Trolling Lures for Pacific Blue Marlin
12.15pm Kadavu Trench
Trolling a 4kg Skipjack tuna skip bait rigged with a 14/0 Owner Super Mutu Circle hook. The hook was rigged to sit 4 inches ahead of the tuna’s nose and connected with waxed rigging thread. 9 feet of 400lb Ande leader, 19ft of wind on leader to a Melton bent butt & Penn International STW 80.
A nice blue marlin sidles up alongside the bait and engulfs it leaving a large hole in the wake and a big flash of silver flank as she turns. Skipper yells “big marlin” and angler comes charging out of the saloon to drop the bait back and allow the blue to swallow.
After 15 seconds the skipper calls for the drag to be eased up. Road loads up and the fish is hooked. The blue doesn’t jump at all. She peels off line but at a steady pace and sounds out and down to about 100m. One hour and fifteen minutes later we bully her up behind the boat.
A couple of head thrashes and she comes in quietly. Upside down quietly. Now we are all worried. We ease her alongside the boat, pop the Billfish Foundation tag in and find that we can’t see the hook.
She’s gut hooked and the damage is obvious. We cut the leader inside the mouth and start towing her behind the boat. A disposable gaff with the tip stoppered with a cork is used to hold her upright. Sadly she does not recover.
She weighs in at 420lbs and is donated to two local village schools to feed the kids.
What went right ?
We used the right technique to raise and hook up a blue on a circle hook.
We used a fairly heavy drag setting to bring the fish to the boat sooner rather than later.
We tried to revive the fish for some considerable time, even though the signs were bad.
What went wrong
The Owner Super Mutu hook is a KIRBED circle hook. The rig used was not one of ours. It must have been left on the boat by a previous angler and in the busy period of bait catching, my deckie grabbed the first ready rig in the box and quickly rigged up a skipjack to get a bait out there fast.
I didn’t check the rig.
“In my humble opinion”
Never use a kirbed circle hook for marlin fishing. It will gut hook just as well as a J hook and to make matters worse, you just dropped it back ensuring you gut hook. You will almost certainly kill the marlin.
Check everything twice before you set a line. Even if you are in a hurry. It just might save you from a bad day.