White Marlin fishing
Class : Osteichthyes
Order : Perciformes
Family : Istiophoridea
Species : Tetrapturus albidus
Other common names: Atlantic White Marlin
Maximum weight : 90kg (200lb)
Current all time I.G.F.A. record: 82.50kg (181lb 14oz) – Vitoria, Brazil – 8 December, 1979
Pectoral Fins: Fins fold flat along the body and are rounded.
Dorsal fin: Retractable
Identifying features: Back and body dark blue. Slightly lighter blue stripes along the body. Belly silver-white. High rounded dorsal fin which is dark blue in color with light blue spots. Second dorsal level with second anal fin and are both rounded. Single lateral line.
Expected temperature range: 68° F to 84° F (20° C to 29° C)
Migration and breeding:
Typical location: Open ocean along the continental shelf and current lines, ocean mountains, and canyons. Around schools of bait such as ballyhoo, pilchards, flying fish, and squid. May be present around floating debris or floating weed beds. Will come close to shore if warm currents and bait are present.
Fighting Characteristics: Spectacular jumper and air acrobat when hooked. Combines lightning surface runs and deep dives which makes this billfish an exciting opponent when hooked on fly or light tackle.
Trolling lures: Small to medium skirted lures, with either hard or soft heads. Of course, a White Marlin may have a chew on a 16″ lure designed for large Blue Marlin, but generally, the 6″ to 12″ range of lures are best suited to this billfish.
Trolling speed can be anywhere between 6 to 12 knots but ensure at all times that the lures are performing at their optimum level.
Trolling live bait: Chub mackerel, mullet, and ballyhoo are productive. When White Marlin is encountered around a bait school, the best method is to troll the same type of bait. Troll the bait around the school on which the billfish is feeding. This may induce a strike from the billfish as the trolling bait would have is natural swimming action hinder somewhat by the hook and leader and presents itself as an easy meal.
Another productive method is to add weight, either to the top of the leader or straight down to the hook, and then troll the bait very close to the school which the billfish is feeding on. When the troll bait is at an agreed position the boat is taken out of gear and the bait then is allowed to sink to the bottom of the school. Remember to allow for the boat moving forward when taken out of gear, wind, and current. The bait will then act like an injured baitfish due to the weight and hopefully will trigger a strike.
Trolling dead bait: Ballyhoo rigged with a pink or white plastic squid covering the head is a productive method and perhaps the most popular. Squid, mullet, and chub mackerel are also productive dead baits. Trolling a rigged swimming bait can be productive, but a skip bait is much more exciting, as the Marlin will be seen chasing and then (hopefully) attempting to swallow the bait.
Other methods: Casting live baits with spinning or light overhead tackle in an exciting way of capturing these billfish. The bait should be cast close to the Marlin and in the direction, it’s facing. About 10-15′ in clear water, perhaps less if the water clarity is poor due to organisms and the like. The ideal is to get the bait noticed without startling the billfish, so don’t cast the bait with the intention of knocking the billfish unconscious as this will only frighten it and you’ll see just how fast these guys can swim!
Flyfishing is growing in popularity worldwide and is perhaps the most exhilarating method for catching White Marlin. The fish can either be teased while trolling hookless lures/bait and then cast to when the billfish is adequately stimulated into feeding or cast to if a billfish are found cruising casually along the surface.