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Fish Tales


B-Day Marlin


Capt. Mike Hennessy shares the story of a special day for a charter client ...

Monday wasn't just another day at the office; it was my fishing client Emmet's birthday and his wife Monica wanted to treat him to his dream of catching a marlin. It was a day to remember. The marlin wasn't quite a grander, but well over 800lbs and more than 14ft. long from bill to tail. This is how it happened ...

Live baiting one of my marlin reefs, we had the standard 2 small yellow fin tunas in the outriggers and 1 skipjack long out the center. All rods had 2 speed Fin-nor 50's with 50lb test packed to the top.

Two rogue Dorado's came tearing in and ate one of the yellow fins, and killed the other one. We took our time to switch the crazed Dorado over to eat a strip of tuna and ended up catching the 40lb female on an Ahab spinning reel with 20 lb test, good fun. The big male Dorado wouldn't eat after feeling the steel of the marlin hook in the live tuna it tried to eat. When marlin fishing Dorado's seem to show up like maggots and eat all you're hard to catch marlin baits.

We then only had the long skippy out the center, and needed to catch 2 more tunas for live bait. Luckily live bait was easy to catch and within a few minutes Monica was reeling in a 3 lb tuna. As she was lifting it over the rail into the hands of my crew Luis, I saw an immense shadow come up from under the boat within about 6 ft. of the transom.

At first I couldn't focus my eyes on the beast, it was so long and black, when all of a sudden it lit up like a Christmas tree turning its dorsal and pectoral fins fluorescent blue.

I yelled to Luis, "Big Marlin…. get your %^*$%^*$ tuna back in the water quick ^*$%&^*$!!!!!!!

She then turned and swam away from the boat through the prop wash with her giant dorsal fin sticking out of the water. The fin looked like JAWS. I then cranked in the long center bait as Luis was frantically trying to bridle the small yellowfin. Before he got the bait in the water, the marlin got a glimpse of my skipjack flopping towards her. She missed it on the first strike and got the leader stuck on her bill, luckily it didn't spook her. She just threw the tuna up in the air, and circled back again.

At this point we are all freaking out, there was electricity in the air and time seemed to stop as we watched her come back for the next pass and open her giant mouth and swallow the tuna, like a shrimp cocktail appetizer.

I free spooled for a count to 5 then threw the reel and the boat into full throttle at the same time. The rod doubled over and she came up half way out of the water to look at us then took off at 40 mph towards the horizon. The 11/0 Owner circle hook was lodged perfectly in the corner of her jaw, no blood was coming out of her mouth on the first jump so we knew it was going to be a great and fair fight, and hopefully a successful and healthy release.

Emmet fought the monster black marlin for 3 hrs with Monica wiping the sweat off his now sun burnt forehead, and pouring cold water on his head and back. His arms and legs where starting to shake. I had to keep telling him to breath, and pace himself.

She jumped in 4 different sets but never enough jumps to actually make her tired, which are what you dream for on big marlin. They build up lactic acid in their muscles and get tired quicker. Unfortunately this wasn't the case with this ^&*#^*% marlin. She stayed in a thermo cline at 130ft, and it was obvious on the fish finder what she was up to. Her direction stayed due west for 3 hrs, and none of my boat maneuvering tricks would change her mind.

Then at the third hour she changed direction and started shaking her head and swimming erratically. Half an hour more of heavy drag with the 50lb test line on the verge of snapping, the double line came to the surface followed by the leader. Luis pulled as hard as he could on the leader with 2 pairs of gloves on, only to lose her into the depths again, with just 2 kicks of her tail.

On the second leader attempt he managed to hold on with the boat in full reverse and waves coming over the back of the boat….. Monica managed to snap off a few photos of a final jump, before the leader exploded like a shotgun. The big black swam with us for a long few seconds before turning tail and swimming off for a perfect release.

All was quiet for a minute as we all looked at each other in amazement of how big the fish was and how one must be careful what they wish for on your birthday, Emmet said, "This birthday present will last a lifetime, and I never need to catch something that big again!"

We then opened a round of beers and headed for home in a state of adrenaline euphoria. I doubt Emmet will ever fish for marlin again.

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