Billfish Addiction Leads to IGFA Billfish Royal Slam

A family vacation leads to an IGFA Billfish Royal Slam in just under a year

pulling a billfish out of the water boatside
It's known as one of the most difficult feats in angling: the IGFA Billfish Royal Slam.Richard Gibson

By Trent Glaub, as told to Capt. Jen Copeland

On his daughter, Marlynn's (pronounced mar-lin) 2018 spring break trip to Los Sueños, Costa Rica, Trent Glaub began a quest he didn't even know he was on. Fishing aboard Dreamwork, the family of three each landed their first Pacific sailfish. Having not been on a charter boat in 20 years, Glaub remembered the standard procedure of charter fishing's hook-and-hand—the hard way. The next day, on Go Fish, Glaub hooked his first of nine IGFA-landed billfish: a black marlin. Thinking it was another large jack they'd been catching and ready to hand the rod to his then-7-year-old daughter, he heard the words from the bridge that changed it all: "No! Marlin negro!"

Black Marlin, March 20, 2018, Los Sueños, Costa Rica

After releasing a few sails earlier in the day, we started live-baiting with some small tuna. Just as I heard Capt. Randall call the fish a black marlin, I saw the dorsal fin break the surface: I’m hooked up to a 400-pounder on 30-pound stand-up. After a few windshield wipes of its bill, my fish must have spooked two other fish in the area as one jumped offshore and the other directly at us. The captain gave the boat some throttle to avoid a collision and shortly after, I released my first black marlin. It was then I realized I was addicted to marlin fishing and set a goal for myself: catch all five marlin species, still without a thought of a royal slam.

White Marlin, May 5, 2018, West End, Bahamas

I was fishing the Mike Schmidt Winner's Circle Charities Tournament with my regular tournament team and Capt. Joe Garberoglio on Fragrant Harbor. We were trolling ballyhoo on 50-pound tackle out of Old Bahama Bay. I hooked a blue marlin, but broke him off on the 60-pound leader, a first of many that I would lose. Luckily, I did land a white marlin during that tournament, and had Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Schmidt sign the release flag.

Pacific Blue Marlin, June 23, 2018, Kona, Hawaii

Another family vacation and another opportunity. I chartered Capt. Kevin Hibbard aboard Divergent in hopes of catching my Pacific blue. The thought of obtaining a royal slam had entered my mind at this point, because I had two of the required fish under my belt in just a few months. We were lure fishing with 130-pound-class tackle and it was big-girl time in Kona. I got one on, and it was a battle, even on the 130. The fish jumped and immediately sounded. Afraid of it going too deep, we loaded up the drag, eventually getting a tag in before the release. Three down, six to go.

Atlantic Blue Marlin, October 21, 2018, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Day One of the San Juan Invitational Billfish Tournament had me aboard Sin Vela. Right after I rotated off the left flatline position, we raised one in that spot. The second day, I was fishing on Para Papa; again, as soon as the angler rotation was called, same thing. I starting thinking: "Am I ever going to catch this Atlantic blue?" I quickly got over the sting of a blue one I pulled off, but got to witness 85-year-old Capt. Jose Campos put the hurting on a feisty one. On the last day I was assigned another local boat called Heavy Duty. I finally get a blue to stick on my lure after a successful tease. Fish four off the list, now on to Mexico.

Another family's [quest for the IGFA Billfish Royal Slam]https://www.marlinmag.com/billfish-double-royal-slam/).

Striped Marlin, December 15, 2018, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

My family and I were off to Cabo to target striped marlin aboard the Bertram 31, Rebecca. We decided to fish the Finger Bank, where the 50-mile run could easily net us 15 shots, as opposed to the five shots we might have out front. I ponied up the fuel surcharge and we settled in for the two-hour run to the bank. On arrival, the action started right after we stopped on some porpoise balling bait. It was nonstop catching with my daughter landing six, my wife, Stacy, landing four, and me with 10. One of Marlynn's fish was an IGFA-legal hook and release, which started her own quest as an 8-year-old.

two anglers holding up a pacific sailfish
Glaub's Pacific sailfish was caught aboard Casa Vieja Lodge's A-Fin-Ity.Courtesy Trent Glaub

Pacific Sailfish, December 28, 2018, Puerto San Jose, Guatemala

My birthday and Christmas coincide with one another so for my 40th birthday, I took the girls to Casa Vieja Lodge. We fished for three days aboard A-Fin-Ity with Capt. Nico Melendrez, where I quickly knocked out my IGFA-caught Pacific sail. No surprise there, but I was happy to be able to practice the bait-and-switch method with ballyhoo on 30-pound tackle.

Atlantic Sailfish, January 11, 2019, Palm Beach, Florida

After realizing I was approaching the one-year mark, I suddenly upped the ante and told myself I wanted to get my royal slam within the year. I live in South Florida, so this one was a give-in. I have fished the Silver Sailfish Derby with Garberoglio for 13 consecutive years, catching plenty of sails on 20-pound-test, but this year we finally won it on Fragrant Harbor by one fish, so I chose that sailfish to be my Atlantic sail for the royal slam.

Broadbill Swordfish, February 16, 2019, Palm Beach, Florida

I was waiting to get back to Hawaii on the moon to catch a spearfish, so I decided to be sure I had a swordfish before I left. I was gearing up my 32-foot Intrepid, No Worries, with my friend, Conner McKee. The weather was perfect, and by 8:20 p.m., we're bit. I picked up the 50-wide and started to crank, coming tight for just a second, but the fish was swimming to the surface. I'm cranking as hard as I can to get tight again, and just as it surfaces in the lights, the 200-pounder immediately takes off toward the bottom. I had more drag than I should have, which eventually broke the harness, forcing me to back off the drag so I didn't get pulled over. Thinking I might have to surrender, the fish slowed down enough to turn its head. Now just one chucker to go.

three anglers standing on the boat deck of a sport fishing yacht
Trent Glaub holds his spearfish release flag in the cockpit of Huntress, a 42-foot Merritt based in Kona, run by Capt. Steve Epstein.Courtesy Trent Glaub

Shortbill Spearfish, March 16, 2019, Kona, Hawaii

I found myself back in Kona with Capt. Kevin Hibbard, but this time on Huntress with Capt. Steve Epstein. It was 35 years to the day that Capt. Bart Miller caught the legendary 1,656-pound blue marlin aboard the same boat. I told the guys I was feeling it, and with the timing, I was sure it would be a special day. Not long after we got the spread out, we got a bite on the left rigger, but it was gone. A few seconds later: right rigger. I’m tight on the 130, and a few minutes later, it was done. I had my spearfish and my IGFA Billfish Royal Slam in 361 days.

What a journey it was: Five different countries—a few of them twice—plus Puerto Rico, and catching five of the nine billfish with my wife and daughter. I couldn’t thank all the captains and crews enough for helping make this happen; and of course, my family for the all the support they’ve given to me.