Reader Stories of their First Billfish Catch

Marlin's fans share the detailed accounts of their "first time," whether it was decades ago or more recent

September 6, 2017

It’s fair to say most anglers remember their first fish. It’s a special moment in someone’s fishing career, whether it was a tiny bass pulled out of the creek behind the house or a hard-fighting trophy tuna landed during a Louisiana oil rig adventure.

The same is true for offshore anglers and their first billfish catch.

Marlin‘s Facebook fans were asked a simple question — “How old were you when you caught your first billfish?” — and then they were invited to share all the details that stuck with these offshore enthusiasts over time. In some cases, these catches happened many years ago. But some happened not so long ago — one even a few days prior to telling the tale on Facebook.


Below is a roundup of the top responses from Marlin‘s Facebook audience. A few even supplied photos. An angler’s first catch is a cherished moment. The same goes for someone’s first billfish catch. So as you read these stories, reminisce your own “first time.” You’ll probably remember it like it was yesterday.

How Old Were You When You Caught Your First Billfish?

fighting billfish in chair
Luke Darby prepares for the fight with a billfish. He caught his first blue marlin at age 16. Courtesy Luke Darby

Luke Darby

“[I was] 16 and lost 17 blue marlin before [my friend] Scott Lee said, ‘I’ll show you how,’ and got my first one. [We had] one from nine bites for the day and had two fall off right at the boat. This boat was part owned by my dad Graham Darby and was a legendary fish raiser for its time.”

Chris Molinet

“[I was] 12. I had the pleasure and good fortune to have two legends in the game help me along the way. Kent Smith and Mark Anthony Leto helped me land my first sailfish. I put up a good fight trying to avoid my dunk [into the water] but I could only run for so long before they caught me and threw me in. I still have the replica mount on my wall 20 years later.”

blue marlin hooked to lure
Lawrence Smith caught his first blue marlin at the 2017 Mobile Big Game Fishing Club Labor Day Invitational. Courtesy Lawrence Smith

Lawrence Smith

“[I was] 51 and it was two days ago, at 10:32 a.m. in the [Mobile Big Game Fishing Club] Labor Day Invitational. I was fortunate to be invited by a great group of guys from Tennessee. Fishing aboard the Lady Ann we were headed north on last day of tourney and had just released a nice fish at around 9:42. Mine hit the same bait and same rod on a flat line. The blue marlin came in green in less than 10 minutes and became angry when wired up. Put on an incredible show at the boat. Made a great lifetime memory with new friends Brent Hendrickson, Ryan McDonald and their crew.”

David J. Cowhey Jr.

“[I was] 18 and went to Cabo over winter break my freshman year in college. We chartered the 31-foot Cabo Express from Picante. We shot out to the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula. We trolled for about two hours with no action. We were about to give up that and go bottom fishing when a 500-pound blue marlin crashed our right rigger. Fought it for two and a half hours then brought it boatside. Biggest rush of my life.”

Mike Traylor

“[I was] 10 years old in 1990 aboard the Show n Tale with my uncle and father. [It was my] first white marlin ever and ended up taking junior offshore grand champ at Port Mansfield [Texas] Fishing Tournament.”

blue marlin release on tijereta off costa rica
This fish was caught off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Steve Mosley caught his first Pacific blue 27 years ago off Hawaii. Courtesy Tijereta Charters

Steve Mosley

“August 1980, I was visiting Kona, Hawaii, and my father-in-law and myself chartered the Topsail VII captained by the world-renowned George Parker. I hooked and fought a Pacific blue marlin. After 45 minutes we brought the fish to the boat. It weighed in at 665 pounds and measured a little over 12 feet long. Thrill of a lifetime! At the time, I was 28 years old.”

Kim Battjes-Fleming

Almost 5 years ago, I was 39 (a day away from 40). My hubby took me to Los Sueños, Costa Rica for my 40th birthday “fish-cation.” On Day One aboard Miss Behavin’ we caught three sailfish, and on Day Two we caught a couple more. What an amazing trip. I will be going back, one way or another!”

white marlin leaps in the air
This white marlin was found recently off Virginia Beach, but offshore anglers have long sought this species. For some, like Heinke Trapp, a white marlin was their first billfish. Courtesy Garmin

Heinke Trapp

“[I was] 15. My parents were attending a conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and they chartered a boat for a half day. A white marlin paddled up and ate the right short, a rigged mullet. It was a very cool bite!”


Christy Drummond

“[It was] 1990. I was 16 years old. I had waited so long to catch my first white marlin. It was so amazing. It made several jumps. When we landed it, we realized it was a very unique fish. It’s bill was split or broken. We all came up with stories of how that had happened.”


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