Nearby Store :

Landing Your First Marlin By Hayden Speed

Landing your first marlin is a massive achievement. In my opinion, it is up there with landing the famous 20lb snapper. And while some anglers will catch multiple Marlin on a single day or the ‘first timers’ that nail one on their first time game fishing, this certainly wasn’t the case for us!

Being completely new to game fishing as all of our previous fishing was done inshore out of a small boat this was to be a very steep learning curve. About 4 years ago after compiling a basic range of lures and a few rod and reel combos we were at least in the game and our hunt for a marlin began. 

If i’m being completely honest, on our first trip out we had no idea what we were doing and just went out there and towed some lures around. We had no outriggers and were completely underprepared if we did somehow fluke a marlin hookup. However, it is probably no surprise that we were entirely unsuccessful.

Fast forwarding a few seasons we had now gained some knowledge from some very experienced people and invested in a pair of decent outriggers and some good quality gear. An addition being the Daiwa Saltiga LD 60 paired with a Daiwa Tournament Game Rod which makes an excellent option for targeting large pelagic fish. Fortunately, to justify some of the effort we did have some bycatch success. These came in the form of a few SBT’s, a Yellowfin Tuna and a triple of Mahi Mahi which was encouraging and most certainly welcome but still had not even seen let alone had a bite from a Marlin.

Our first encounter with a marlin came off Waihau Bay in the Bay of Plenty last season. This came on the second day of a two day trip while we were swimming some Kahawai live baits. Upon arrival, we had seen Saury jumping out of the water and a marlin rounding them up so we knew things were about to get interesting! Half an hour later, one of our live kahawai was eaten and a large striped marlin burst up from behind the boat. You can imagine our excitement after finally seeing our prized target after countless unsuccessful days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and the hook pulled just over an hour later. We were gutted but at the same time, it was an awesome experience and knew now that we could raise fish and it could be possible. Only to rub salt in the wound - later that day after we had switched to lures, we had a small blue marlin come in and eat our short rigger. This fish peeled off taking a lot of line before unfortunately also shaking the hook. Gutting again but still promising signs of things to come. 

Finally, this season rolled around and brought with it some warm water and some very good fish numbers. After an unsuccessful day targeting yellowfin tuna out of Whakatane just after Christmas, the weather presented a nice window and it was time to have another crack at a marlin. There had been good reports of fish out of our home port of Tauranga so we opted to fish from there.

Like many other missions, the day began - an early start, followed by a live bait gathering session. The only issue was that our chosen livebait kahawai was nowhere to be seen. Without wanting to waste a large chunk of the day targeting kahawai we decided to push on with the lures. At midday, we came across a nice patch of water just over 21.5 degrees with bait pushing up to 15m below the surface. Only minutes later we had a pack of at least 3 fish come up into the gear. The short rigger was the first to go, closely followed by the short corner and finally the long rigger. We were hooked up to three Marlin! Yet again, you can imagine the chaos and mayhem of three rods going off with multiple Marlin jumping and going nuts while we scrambled to clear the remaining gear. Unfortunately during this time, one fish had jumped on the line of another fish and snapped it. Shortly after the second fish pulled the hooks. Surely we couldn’t mess this opportunity up!

It still feels surreal to have finally achieved this goal that I could only imagine for many years. Better still it was awesome to accomplish this onboard our own boat, off our home patch with the same crew that had been involved right from the start - those being Dad, my younger brother Tyler and I. Hopefully now that the monkey is off the back they will begin to flow more frequently! So what tips would I give to someone targeting their first marlin (or any for that matter!). I would suggest fishing structures, whether this be steep contour lines, reefs or upwellings. These will often hold good amounts of bait which will often correlate with marlin. I would also suggest investing in a pair of outriggers as this allows you to run lures and baits more effectively. 

It also pays to keep an eye on your sounder to mark baitfish. So often finding the bait is the key to finding the larger predators. To help with this, having the VHF radio on a local gamefishing chat channel can be a good way of gathering current intel as to where the bait fish and fish are holding. But as the case with all fishing - you won’t catch them on the couch! So get out there and give it a crack! You can find the video from this day on my YouTube channel “Mayhem Fishing”.