Cape Verde Super-Grander Landed

Charter angler boats the second-largest blue marlin ever caught in the Atlantic

A sport-fishing team posing next to a large marlin.
The fish of a lifetime for angler Ben Vorster. Note the mostly straightened flying gaff. Courtesy Capt. Matthias Henningsen

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Cape Verde is well-known in sport-fishing circles for outstanding blue marlin fishing, for both numbers and big fish.

Might as well add one more accolade to the list: a “super-grander” blue that was landed in May 2022. Germany-born Capt. Matthias Henningsen moved to the Canary Islands in 1994, after spending time in Ghana, Australia and Hawaii. He founded Atlantic Fishing Charters in 2003 and fished out of Ascension Island before heading to Cape Verde in 2009. He gives up the details on this one.

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“South African angler Ben Vorster fished with Capt. Ryan Williamson and mates Papau Alves and Martin Palmer on the 37-foot Bertram Smoker,” he says. “They had a great week of fishing, with Ben and his friends Gerhardt Vorster and Michiel Roos releasing 13 blue marlin, including an 800-plus-pounder.” Henningsen says they saved the best for last.

That week the team had fished around the island of Santo Antão. On the morning of May 19, they departed the anchorage at Tarafal to fish their way back to Mindelo on nearby São Vicente. Henningsen continues: “Fifteen minutes after leaving Tarafal, and not even a mile offshore, a marlin showed up behind a Pulsator tube—it was the only lure with a hook in it—that they were pulling from the center rigger. Martin teased the marlin to the boat, and Papau pitched a yellowfin tuna rigged with an Eagle Claw circle hook using an 80-pound-class chair rod, with an 80-wide Tiagra spooled with 100-pound-test mono.

“Everyone saw the bite and knew it was a big fish. After 35 minutes, Martin had the leader, and the decision was made that this was the right one for the gaffs.” Once the fish was aboard, Williamson headed for Mindelo. Three hours later, the certified scales told the story: 1,370 pounds. The marlin had a short length of 154 inches, a girth of 80 inches, and a tail-stump circumference of 20.9 inches. According to Henningsen, the catch represents the second-largest Atlantic blue marlin ever weighed.

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“Smoker had an incredible season in 2022, releasing 100 blue marlin, with five of those fish over 900 pounds,” Henningsen says. “Atlantic Fishing Charters reached another milestone, releasing more than 25 blue marlin over 900 pounds, weighing seven granders, and holding three of the six biggest blues caught in the Atlantic.”

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