Arostegui Completes the Quest for a Royal Billfish Slam on Fly

The South Florida angler fulfills a dream angling achievement

martin arostegui royal billfish slam on fly
Dr. Martin Arostegui (second from right) with the hard-working crew of Minerva II. Despite not being well-versed in fly-fishing tactics, the team adapted quickly and caught several striped marlin over the two-day trip on both fly and conventional tackle.Courtesy Martin Arosegui

After achieving scores of IGFA world records, Dr. Martin Arostegui turned his sights toward a new challenge: releasing a royal billfish slam of all nine species on fly (Atlantic and Pacific blue marlin, Atlantic and Pacific sailfish, white marlin, striped marlin, black marlin, swordfish and spearfish). It’s a challenge that began in 1991, but Arostegui picked up the pace in the last few months, adding a spearfish release in Hawaii and a black marlin in Australia to his previous catches that put the royal slam within reach. All that remained was a striped marlin, so Arostegui packed his bags for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This is his story of that incredible trip.

After returning from Australia, I contacted my friend Jaime Rendon to see if we could fish for striped marlin from his panga in Cabo. He said yes, but the weather gods had other plans. We arrived in Cabo San Lucas to 20- to 25-knot winds from the west, so fly-fishing from a panga was out of the question.

Jaime suggested that we visit a dear friend, Minerva Saenz, to arrange for a larger and faster boat. Minerva, who owns the world-famous Minerva’s Baja Tackle in Cabo, saved the trip by immediately assembling her best team to help me with this quest.

The next morning, we went out on Minerva II with captains Pimi Fiol, Esteban Alvarez and Carmelo Navarrete. I was the first fly-fisherman they had seen in recent years but the team got up to speed very quickly. Shortly after we started trolling, we had two fish behind the teasers.

martin arostegui royal billfish slam on fly
A striped marlin shows off its vivid colors close to the boat.Courtesy Martin Arosegui

After a short fight, we had a striped marlin on fly next to the boat by 11:30 a.m. My wife, Roberta, did not go with us because it was very rough, so now I didn’t have a photographer to officially record the catch. Esteban promptly volunteered to take photos with my SLR camera. This was fine until just before the release, when he told me that he had never used this kind of camera before — just a little added stress! As it turned out, he got some great shots that we needed to certify the catch.

martin arostegui royal billfish slam on fly
Arostegui's striped marlin jumps just out of range of the deckhand.Courtesy Martin Arosegui
martin arostegui royal billfish slam on fly
These amazing marlin are well-known for their acrobatics.Courtesy Martin Arosegui

The seas calmed a little overnight, so Roberta went with us the next day. And as it usually happens, she out-fished me by releasing one striped marlin on 20-pound-test spinning gear and then one more on fly. I did catch one additional striped marlin before the day was over. I was just at the IGFA and my application has been approved and the certificate issued.

martin arostegui royal billfish slam on fly
Roberta Arostegui released two striped marlin on the second day of fishing: one on fly and one on 20-pound-test spinning tackle.Courtesy Martin Arosegui