When Ernest Hemingway wrote about Marlin fishing as part of his novella called “The Old Man and the Sea,” the story was not far from reality. He talked about an old Cuban fisherman who caught the biggest catch of his entire fishing career—an 18ft Marlin.
Marlin fishing is the most popular—yet the hardest—form of sportfishing around the world. Marlins—white, black, blue, or striped—are known for their huge size, weight, and their telltale bill.
Catching them is very difficult because of their fastidious nature; when they do fall for your bait, they put up an incredible fight. Santiago—Hemingway’s Cuban fisherman—took three days to kill the fish.
The History of Marlin Fishing
In 1992, a sport fisherman was able to catch a 1,400-pound Blue Marlin in Brazilian waters. Another fisherman caught a 1,560-pound black Marlin in Peru.
The biggest catch, however, was made in 1970 on a charter fishing boat out of Oahu, where a man caught an enormous Marlin weighing 1,805 pounds. This beast of a Marlin was named Choy’s Monster.
In fishing circles, a grander is any catch that weighs over 1,000 pounds. Marlin fishing more than qualifies.
Different Types of Marlin
Marlins are a part of the Billfish family, just like the Swordfish and Sailfish. They are highly predatory fish and use their spear-like ‘bill’ to stun and slash their prey.
Moreover, they are migratory species and change their locations based on the warmth of the water. They are mostly found in tropical and sub-tropical waters.
Even though there are four varieties of Marlin, they all possess a familiar color scheme, habits, and characteristics. This means that amateur fishers—or people who are untrained—can mistake a Blue Marlin for a Striped Marlin or a black for a blue one.
Here’s how you can distinguish between each type of Marlin:
Blue Marlins dive deeper but get tired really quickly compared to other Marlins. However, they are incredibly acrobatic and are known to put up an aggressive fight by swimming hard and long.
You can recognize a Blue Marlin by its:
- Pointy front dorsal fin which is never higher than the maximum depth of the body
- Cobalt blue-black which fades into white and pale blue stripes that aren’t as visible as that of a striped marlin
- Cylindrical body shape
Popularly referred to as “the bull of the sea,” these beings are bigger than the Blue Marlin and are very rarely found in temperate waters.
The males can grow up to 15ft long and may weigh as much as 1,600 pounds, but they are usually smaller than the females.
They are sought after because of their large size, extreme strength, and incredible endurance—which is why they are popular in sportfishing. You can recognize them by:
- The smaller Mohawk compared to most Marlins
- A body and bill that tend to be shorter than other species
- The dark blue-black color fading into a silver belly
- Pectoral rigid fins which can’t be folded
These are known to catch their prey by overtaking them instead of slashing or stunning them. Despite being the smallest of the lot, they are sought after because of their stunning speed, leaping ability and the difficulty of hooking them.
You can recognize them by:
- They’re round first dorsal
- The height of the first dorsal is often greater than the body depth
- The lighter, green color
Striped Marlins are usually found in colder waters compared to Blue or Black Marlins. They are famous for their fighting ability and have built the ability to spend more time in the air than in water once hooked.
You can recognize them by their:
- Pointy front dorsal
- Pale blue vertical stripes—more visible than in any other species
- A lean body and compressed sides
- Flexible pectoral fins
- Pointy pectoral and anal fins
And that’s all you need to know about distinguishing between Marlin species. Now get fishing!