Fish

Black Marlin

posted: 05/15/12
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Black Marlin
Georgie Holland/Getty Images

If you're a high sea adventurer with a taste for saltwater and big game fish, then the black marlin is likely high on your list for the prized catch. But be sure to save your strength and use your high test fishing line because these billfish are notorious for putting up a fight once hooked and can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds or more.

With a Jaw Like a Sword

Chances are, you've see a poor reproduction of a mounted marlin in all its splendor hanging on a restaurant wall. These prized sport fish are unmistakable in appearance, with their long, swordlike upper jaw. There are many kinds of marlin, and each one has a sharp bill and tall, pointed dorsal softrays. The black marlin is distinguished from its cousins by the fact that it's the only of its species that can't retract its fins. The fish likes to stick around the warm, shallow waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and it's been known to migrate as far as 6,000 miles. The females are the most prized because of their size. They typically weigh several hundred pounds more than their male counterparts.

A Strong-willed Opponent

Fishing for black marlin is not for the amateur angler. Once you're in the tropical waters of the Indio-Pacific, you won't have to venture too far from shore. It rarely swims below 100 feet deep and stays near land, islands and coral reefs. But make sure you have the strength and stamina it takes to reel in this prized game fish; it's known for its power and size, as well as its persistence.

A black marlin will dive deep once hooked. And when you get it to the surface, it may leap spectacularly from the water for that picture-perfect, man-vs-fish moment. Artificial lures and live bait are both used to pull the black marlin from the water, so pack a cooler of squid, cuttlefish and mackerel to entice the marlin to take the bait.

Why You Should Throw It Back

While not endangered, billfish like the marlin are always threatened because of their notoriety as prized trophy fish. This means that few anglers might elect to practice effective catch-and-release measures in favor of mounting the big fish on a wall. In 2008, Peru enacted a ban on the commercial sale of all billfish from its waters in an attempt to protect fish like the black marlin.

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