Fighting and landing a mammoth gamefish is one of the most exhilarating feelings an angler will experience. Like hitting a perfect golf shot, catching a pelagic beast fuels the fire and brings you back for more.
One of the most sought-after blue water fish is marlin — blue, white, black, and striped. Tournaments are dedicated to them. Charters make livings off them. The chance to reel in a 1000+ pound billfish draws people to all corners of the world as they chase these majestic creatures.
To pursue these fast, powerful fish, you’ll need a proper sportfishing yacht. At any tournament or popular location, you’ll no doubt find charter captains and private owners piloting a mix of custom battlewagons or legendary semi-custom production brands like Viking Yachts.
Where are these hot spots? Here’s a quick overview of five locations around the world you’ll have a good chance at landing the catch of a lifetime.
The 150 mile stretch of the Great Barrier Reef between Cairns and Lizard Island offers some of the finest fishing in the world for giant marlin, particularly black marlin.
The International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) keeps records of fish over 1,000 pounds captured around the world using equipment within the IGFA Rules. 70% of all 1,000+ pound marlins are caught off the Great Barrier Reef between Cairns and Lizard Island.
Some of the more notable spots to land a giant marlin are 10 Ribbon Reefs, Linden Bank, Agincourt, Opal Reef, St. Crispin’s Reef, Onyx Reef, Euston Light, and Jenny Louise Shoals.
The best time of year to snag a black marlin is September-December. For blue marlin, it’s typically December-March.
If you fancy big blue marlin, there’s one hot spot you need to get to: Kona, Hawaii.
More than half of the 150+ blue marlin over 1,000 pounds weighed in the Hawaiian Islands were caught in Kona (this doesn’t count the many more grander blues released).
Several IGFA world-record blue marlin have been landed in the surrounding waters, which are also home to the largest marlin ever caught on hook and line, a 1,805-pounder known as Choy’s Monster that was caught off the island of Oahu in 1970.
The usually calm seas are due to Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two large mountains that make up most of the island. The mountains offer a 40-mile-long swath of water that’s protected from the trade winds.
While good year-round, the most consistent fishing is usually between April and September.
Madeira Island offers some of the finest big game fishing grounds for Atlantic blue marlin and is one of the best spots in the world for 1,000+ pounders.
Situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal and off the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, with Madeira Island being the largest and most populous of the Madeira Archipelago.
A popular year-round resort, it is known for its namesake wine, warm, subtropical climate, and world-class marlin fishing. Madeira is ideally placed at the migratory route for large game fish. The average weight of fish caught is about 700 pounds.
The summer and early fall months, between May and October, bring with them an abundance of massive Atlantic blue marlin (as well as sleek sharks and other magnificent billfish).
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Situated on the northeast side of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, the deep waters off San Juan offer some of the greatest fishing in the world. And you don’t have to travel far offshore from San Juan harbor to find the action; just a few miles offshore, about a 15-minute ride, the depths plummet sharply. You’ll be lowering the riggers and launching your spread before you’ve made a dent in your coffee.
San Juan is known for its copious blue and white marlins. It’s home to the International Billfish Tournament, which recently celebrated its 66th year of big game action in August 2019
The best time to fish for blue marlins is June-October; for white marlin, it’s typically April-July.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The waters around Cabo San Lucas are possibly the best sportfishing waters in the entire world. The presence of the striped marlin means you can fish for a marlin nearly all year round here.
While Cabo is built for tourism, East Cape, about 100 miles east up the coastline of Los Cabos, also provides incredible fishing but in a more remote, tranquil, less touristy setting.
In Cabo, as you leave the state-of-the-art Marina Cabo San Lucas, you’ll cruise past the famous rock formations at Finisterra (Land’s End), including El Arco, the massive stone arch that ranks as the most identifiable landmark of Cabo San Lucas, in pursuit of these glory fish.
The best blue and black marlin bite is usually May-December. For striped, while they can be found year-round, your best bet is typically November-May.
So go ahead – add these to your fishing bucket list, and happy marlin fishing!