In early December 2016, Capt. Miguel Tirado found himself in the midst of a wide-open blue marlin bite while fishing out of Marina Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. At the helm of Jesus Montano’s Puerto Rico-based Blue Bird, Tirado capped a string of amazing days with one that stands out among the rest. On December 11, the team, fishing aboard Montano’s brand-new Viking 72, caught and released an astonishing 23 blues. The feat represents a new mark for the most Atlantic blue marlin releases in a day, a record previously set in 1997 by The Hooker in Cape Verde. This is Tirado’s recap of that amazing day.
I’ve been fishing the Dominican Republic for the last 15 years, and I’ve never seen fishing like this. The first day was Friday, December 9. We headed to the FADs, and the bite was incredible — we probably had over 30 bites. When we left to come back to the marina, we had 16 blue marlin releases, and we were also one for two on white marlin and one for two on sailfish. In doing so, we had not only set a new marina record for blues, but we also had a grand slam.
We went back to the same area the next day. On probably 80 percent of the FADs we fished, we were marking more bait than we’ve ever seen. We were fishing 30-pound tackle and had 28 or 30 bites — we caught 18 blues. They were mostly small fish in the 50- to 100-pound range. At one point, we had five on at the same time. It was just incredible fishing.
On Sunday, December 11, we got a late start because we had to get fuel. The morning was slow, and we only had two doubleheaders by lunchtime. Then it was like someone flipped a switch. By the end of the day, we had six doubles and a triple. The weather was really rough also, with 6- to 8-foot seas and 20- to 25-knot winds. The boat has a gyro though, and that helped keep us stable in the rough seas. It was a wild afternoon.
We probably had 35 or 40 bites from blues, and I have no idea how many fish we actually saw. At one point, we put the lines back in, made a turn down-sea and saw five blue marlin swimming through a wave into the spread. The last three blues of the day were a tripleheader: We had two on and hooked the third marlin on a bait that was just hanging from the rigger while we were backing down. I thought we had snagged the line in the props, but my mate said, “No, it’s another marlin.”
In three days, we caught a total of 59 billfish: 57 blue marlin, one white marlin and one sailfish. We feel very fortunate to have been there at the right time. — As told to Sam White by Capt. Miguel Tirado.