Pacific Blue Marlin
Pacific Blue Marlin make their homes all across the Pacific, including Mexican waters. The best season is considered July through December, but just like any species and fishery, yearly fluctuations do occur. Many major tournaments targeting Blue Marlin take place in October when most anglers feel the highest populations exist.
The Pacific Blue Marlin is considered by many to be sportfishing's ultimate prize. Growing as large as 2000 pounds (the largest caught on rod and reel was 1,805 pounds in Hawaii in 1970), and often seen in Mexican waters from 300-600 pounds in season, the fish is as acrobatic as it is powerful. Alive, the Pacific Blue tends to make colossal runs - like times trial on a liquid dragstrip - and perform aerial shows that give even non-anglers the opportunity to witness their majestic beauty. The Blue Marlin is truly a treat to catch.
Anglers like to troll artificial plugs, but when conditions dictate, live and dead baiting techniques are used extensively. Drop-backs are often employed, using Ballyhoo or similar fish as baits. When using live bait such as a skipjack tuna (7-15 pounds is a good size), the bait will exhibit certain behaviors while attached to the line. It will become nervous when a larger fish is near and a strike is impending, and this is where the angler's and the boat driver's skills must work in unison. Although many claim the right approach is to count to 10 or more after the initial strike, Marlin open their mouths wide and engulf the entire bait with a vacuum-like force, and the hook is often safely set about 3 to 5 seconds after the taking of the bait. Any longer and the fish tends to have swallowed the bait making for a less enjoyable fight and a higher chance of mortality caused by gut-hooking.
Though many biological characteristics distinguish the Blue Marlin from the Black, the easiest way to tell is from the pectoral fins. On a Blue Marlin, the pecs are hinged and will retract close into the body, whereas a Black Marlin's pectorals are fixed.
The current IGFA record for Pacific Blue Marlin is 1,376 pounds, and this fish was caught in Hawaii in 1982.
One of the fun things about Stripers is multiple hookups are quite frequent when they are in season. Unlike the Blue, which is essentially a lone-wolf predator, the stripers often travel in pairs - male and female - and schools. The most distinguishing characteristic of the Striped Marlin (Blue Marlin have plenty of stripes on them, too, when in the water) is the dorsal fin, which extends much higher than on a Blue. In fact, given a fish of comparable size, the Striped Marlin's dorsal find will extend about 30% higher than on a Blue. The average size of the Striped Marlin in Mexico is 100 - 200 pounds with some ranging in Mexico up to 250 pounds. The IGFA record is 494 pounds, caught in New Zealand in 1986, where it is widely acknowledged that Stripes grow much larger.
Although not as large on average as the Blue, the Striper is a fun fish to fight, especially on light tackle. Because of this, anglers like to switch to lighter tackle in areas and seasons when Stripers are more prevalent than Blues. The prime season for Stripes in Mexico is May through November, though early and late season runs are frequent and this species is caught to some degree year-round.
Dead bait, sighting tailing fish, and trolling lures are the common methods used to hook this acrobatic surface fish, and crews that truly pay attention to the waters with a keen eye will usually catch considerably more Stripers in the course of a year.
Black Marlin are not as common in Mexican waters as they are in the Southern hemisphere, though they certainly show up unannounced often enough to keep everyone interested. It is thought by some that the Black Marlin that travel away from their "home" down under strayed following a school of bait and either forgot about or didn't care about the way back after a feeding frenzy dissipated, then followed one current after another until they crossed the equator and onto another current or school of baitfish.
Not much is known about the breeding or feeding habits of the Black in Mexico, and many are incidental catches while trolling or baiting for Blues. They put up one heck of a fight, and anglers have spent way too many hours at night arguing whether or not it fights as hard or harder than the Blue.
Growing as large as the Blue in some parts of the world, the largest Black on record for IGFA purposes remains Alfred Glassell's 1560 pound monster caught in Peru in 1953. Reports of commercially caught fish in excess of 2000 pounds do surface now and again, and most anglers do believe it's just a matter of time before one that size is harnessed on rod and reel.
Catching the Black is much the same as the Blue, and the season is about the same. Trolling with lures or baits, live and dead, is the predominant method.
This fish is one of the reasons why Mexico is able to provide such diversity to the Angling Adventurer. The Broadbill, a colder water fish that primarily feeds at night and lazily basks during the day, was once the pride of the Southern California harpoon fishery before less discriminatory commercial harvesting techniques reduced stocks significantly.
A rare catch for East Cape waters, there are occasions when they show up, and are often caught on some type of live bait rig such as the abundant mackerels. The fight of a Broadbill is legendary. With its huge, powerful pectoral fins resembling a weightlifting Marlin and it's uncanny ability to conserve strength during the fight, it rarely jumps. It just stares anglers down and waits for its moment to strike, almost as if it is planning the entire battle. Broadbills win more battles than they lose, and for many anglers, catching one ends up being the last of a long line of species on their life's "to catch" list.
The Broadbill is a delicacy known as shutome in Japan, and they have commanded high prices all over the world. But because little is known about their breeding habits and they have been largely exploited for their flesh, like other billfish species, the Broadbill is considered overfished in many oceans.
The current IGFA Record for a Broadbill Swordfish is 1182 pounds, and like the Black Marlin, this mark was set in 1953 off another country in South America - Chile.
The East Cape often has a nice abundance of Sails during the months of July through October. A terrific light tackle opponent, the sailfish is known for its schooling, multiple hook-up tendencies and aerial acrobatics. Though they generally don't get much larger than 80 pounds, they will sometimes come in up to 180 pounds on occasion. Most sport anglers release Sailfish.
Caught by trolling, teasing, and drop-back baiting methods for those paying close attention to when they arrive in the lure pattern behind a boat, schooling Sailfish are the target of tournament anglers from Baja to Peru on the Pacific side and Florida to Brazil on the Atlantic side, with places such as Panama and Costa Rica considered prime.
The IGFA record for Sailfish was set in 1947 at 221 pounds, off the coast of Ecuador.