Chasing Records in Cape Verde

Preparation, persistence and a bit of good luck equal success
A sport-fishing team stands in the cockpit of a sport-fishing boat next to a large record marlin.
Trent Graham, Yoan Alcala, Capt. Chase Travers, Gary Carter, Sarney Neves and Sherrell Carter celebrate after landing a new IGFA world record in Cape Verde. Courtesy Gary Carter

Special delivery: Sign up for the free Marlin email newsletter. Subscribe to Marlin magazine for $29 for 1 year and receive 2 bonus digital issues.

On May 8, my wife, Sherrell, and I arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde, with our longtime friend and captain Yoan Alcala. We were there to pursue the men’s and women’s IGFA 30-pound-test line-class records, which were our primary targets for this trip.

Of note, while we were in Cape Verde in 2022 fishing with Capt. Divan Coetzee and his crew, I had broken the ice fly-fishing for blue marlin, and so Alcala had brought some fixed gaffs with him from Madeira, which are required by the IGFA for fly records. We were also ready for battle with the wand as well.

The next morning, we joined Capt. Chase Travers and mates Trent Graham and Sarney Neves on the 33-foot Bertram La Onda Emma. We departed Mindelo for São Nicolau, which is my favorite location to base from while ­fishing in Cape Verde.

We spent a lot of time learning how to most effectively respond to any possible opportunities to catch either a 30-pound line-class or 20-pound fly-tippet IGFA-record blue marlin. This was really a great ­team-building exercise in that Alcala and I had almost no experience fly-fishing for marlin; Travers, Graham and Neves had exactly zero.

Read Next: At an amazing 1,370 pounds, Cape Verde produced the second-largest Atlantic blue marlin in 2022.

On our fourth day of fishing, we had our first good shot on fly, and all went as we had hoped until, after 38 minutes, the estimated 250-pounder popped the tippet during a scorching run away from the boat. We knew that this wasn’t going to be easy.

Two days later though, it all came together. After a perfect tease-and-switch, we survived a 400-plus-yard blast, accentuated by a series of those insane signature blue marlin leaps. At the 1-hour-and-5-minute mark, the blue broke the surface near the port corner, and Alcala and Graham made two incredibly swift and accurate gaff shots—it was over. After the run back to São Nicolau to weigh the fish, the certified digital scale read 293 pounds, 10 ounces. This bested the previous record of 208 pounds, caught off Venezuela in 1994.

Email Newsletters and Special Offers

Sign up for Marlin emails to receive features on travel destinations, event listings and product reviews as well as special offers on behalf of Marlin’s partners.

By signing up you agree to receive communications from Marlin and select partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You may opt out of email messages/withdraw consent at any time.