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Finding Big Marlin

Looking for the best place to catch a big marlin

June 23, 2011
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Q: Where is the best place in the world to go to catch a big marlin?

Bryan Rogan
Bozeman, Montana

A: Good question, Bryan. It’s one that needs a few qualifiers. All marlin are big fish by almost anyone’s standards. Even white marlin, the smallest of all the marlin species, reach the 100-pound mark, and few people would consider that a small fish. However, you asked specifically about big marlin, which excludes both white and striped marlin.

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The blue marlin gets bigger than any of the other marlin species and is found in all the oceans of the world. There are several documented catches of blue marlin over 1,800 pounds from both the Atlantic and the Pacific — with more coming from French Polynesia than anywhere else I know of. Unfortunately, your chances of ever catching one this size, even if you dedicated your entire life to the pursuit, is almost infinitesimally small.

If we define big as weighing more than 1,000 pounds, we can pretty definitely say that the water of North Queensland, Australia, along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from Cairns to Lizard Island, makes the best spot to catch a big one. More than 700 black marlin weighing in excess of the magical 1,000 pounds have hung on certified scales in the Great Barrier Reef, so your best chance for a grander lies with the excellent charter fleet out of that area.

Cabo Blanco, Peru, runs a distant second with 34 granders caught, though none within the last 50 years. There is, however, another contender in the Indian Ocean off Mozambique in the southern part of Africa. I do not know how many black marlin over 1,000 pounds have been caught off Mozambique, but way back in 1973, I visited the area while scouting out potential new marlin hot spots. I met a guy on that trip who said that he had caught several black marlin over 1,000 pounds and quite a few more over 900. After he described his tackle and techniques, it occurred to me that he wouldn’t have fared any better had he been fishing the same amount of time out of Cairns!

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