Marlin are without a doubt my favorite fish to target in the world. There isn’t another fish out there that has been so well designed to be fast, powerful and super aggressive. The sight of one of these behind your boat chasing a lure gets your heart racing more than any other fish could. Each species of marlin has it’s own characteristics and blue marlin are the best in my eyes.
They come in on a lure at full speed and once hooked display an incredible amount of acrobatics, sometimes tail walking around the boat for more than 20 seconds. This makes them very hard to catch and to control, a hook is easily shaken and a fish can end up in the boat if the skipper isn’t careful. I’ve no doubt you’ve seen the youtube videos of marlin landing in a boat, and I hope this never happens anyone, it’s dangerous chaos.
Marlin fishing was made famous by the like of Zane Gray and Ernest Hemingway who traveled the world in search of these elusive creatures. Marlin are known as a million-dollar fish as that is what it’s said to cost to catch one. Between the boats, gear, captain, crew, travel, and fuel, you can imagine the bill for each fish landed stacks up. Finding a blue marlin is the first step of the achey battle of hooking and landing one. They can be found all around the world but there are some specific hotspots and this is what I am going to share with you today. Here is where the best blue marlin fishing in the world is.
Blue marlin love deep water, it’s their favorite place to be and usually, you might have to run 60 miles to find it, but not in Kona, Hawaii. Thanks to the islands being volcanic, you can find super deep drop-offs right off the reef and will start fishing minutes after leaving the dock.
Kona has been known as one of the best places to target big blues since the sixties and more than 80 blue marlin in the 1000lb category have been landed there. This says a lot considering the number that would have been hooked and lost. The deep drops are the perfect place to hunt for marlin and you can target them all year round. The peak season for big blues is during the warmer months from April to September. Hawaii is full of charters and you’ll easily find an outstanding boat, captain and crew who are just as excited about catching a blue marlin as you are.
Madeira is an island off Portugal, slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic. It has similar features to Kona thanks to its volcanic nature and holds very deep drop-offs on either side that the blue marlin love to frequent. The island is stunning, a mesh of rolling lush hills that finish with a rocky plunge into the sea.
Madeira is known as a big blue marlin hot spot but the peak seasons see to change year on year for some reason, the fish showing up out of sync with previous years. It is said by most charter captains in Madiera, that for every 10 blues landed, one is a 1000lb fish. That’s one serious ratio there. Be aware that blues in Madeira are a waiting game, the sea isn’t full of them but the ones that are there are big.
The best months to find a blue marlin in Madeira is usually between May and August, although September seems to be getting a bite now too. No one knows why the patterns of the fish have changed, just be sure to discuss with your captain before booking to ensure you’re there at the right time.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Only a few hours plane ride from most major US airports lies the waters off of San Juan in Puerto Rico. This American territory in the Caribbean has an exceptional blue marlin bite every summer during the months of June to October. It sits on the bottom end of the famous Puerto Rican Trench, about 60 miles from St Thomas which gives it access to the deep waters that blue marlin love. There are a lot of blue marlin to be found in the area and some of them grow to a good size. The waters are so prolific that in August every year, The San Juan International Billfish Tournament comes to town. It’s the longest continually running billfish tournament in the world and holds the record for the most blue marlin caught in a four-day tournament.
It is certainly worth the quick flight to hop on epic boats with great crews to enjoy the marling fishing of San Juan. You’re likely to hook up to at least 3 or 4 fish in a week’s trip which are some serious odds. There are some awesome package deals to be had, so get searching.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas in Mexico is one of the most famous billfish destinations on the planet. It has been said and proved, that there are more marlin caught per hour in this fishery than anywhere else in the world. Cabo San Lucas sits on the southern tip of Baja California and was once a sleepy fishing village. Today it is not only a party destination for those youngsters on spring break but one of the best bill fishing areas in the world. The marinas are stacked with professional captains and crews waiting to take you out fishing.
The best time to fish for blue marlin is between the months of June and October. They are not here in the size and numbers as many of the other destinations but they are here nonetheless. Along with them come their cousins the black marlin, which are also around at the same time of year. There’s a big striped marlin run in the months of September to March and while you’re fishing you have the chance to hook into dorado, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, sailfish, mako, or even a couple of hammerhead sharks.
The skies are almost always blue in Cabo and seas usually clam. The beaches are stunning and there is an abundance of other activities to enjoy on your days off the water whilst you’re there.
Los Suenos, Costa Rica
If you haven’t heard about Costa Rica’s rise to fame on the tourist map then you must have been living on a deserted island for the last few years. The country set aside over twenty percent of its land to national parks and protected areas where tourists can enjoy everything from cloud forests, zip lines, jungle hikes, and bungee jumping. There are volcanos to climb and of course some amazing fishing to be had on the Pacific coastline.
Marlin can be found all the way from the north in Papagayo to Golfito in the south. They come in large numbers and there are some huge specimens caught every year. Blue marlin tend to run hardest in the month of June – August and the best way to catch them in on multiple-day trips to the seamounts far offshore. A three-day charter can see you raising over 40 fishing when they’re hot. A lot of these fish are not the biggest which makes them perfect to pitch baits to and target them on fly. Can you imagine hooking a blue marlin on fly? Mind-blowing to say the least.
The best place to book a long charter is out of Los Suenos on the central west coast, it’s only a 3-hour drive from the capital San Jose or a quick plane ride. The marinas are littered with beautiful sport fishers and outstanding crews that know the waters well and how to get the job done.
It’s not only blue marlin that venture into the waters off Costa Rica, black marlin shown up in April and May, and striped marlin are there all year round. There are also hundreds so sailfish that call these waters home in the dry season between November and April. This makes it a grand slam destination where you could catch a blue, black, stripey and sailfish in one day.
Costa Rica is easy to get to from the US and is also an amazing place for a family holiday. There is so much to do and enjoy that you won’t know where to turn next.
The Portuguese islands of Cape Verde sit off the coast of Senegal and have an incredible blue marlin bit in the months of April to July. The fish are said to migrate through this area every year on the way to their breeding grounds which means some big females are going to be coming through too. Cape Verde is possibly the best blue marlin fishery in the world and it is not uncommon for boats to come back to the dock having landed more than 10 fish in a day. That is a lot of fish and numbers you would be hard pushed to beat anywhere else in the world.
Most of the fishing happens in and around Sao Vicente, Santo Antao, and Santa Luzia and all the charter boats are moored in Mindelo at the Big Game Fishing Club. The reason the fish stick to this area is due to the numerous underwater features of seamounts, drop-offs, banks and deep holes that create a lot of currents and upwellings that attract the baitfish and therefor the big blues.
The waters around Cape Verde are rough due to the currents and with a little wind get rocky quickly. The boats can handle it but if you’re prone to seasickness then you may want to take some tablets with you. Most charter boats fish a tease and switch operation and pitch baits to fish that have been drawn in on the teasers. This is a really exciting way to fish and gives you good shots at catching one of the fly too.
Cape Verde is not very easy to get to and you’ll have to fly via either Dakar or Lisbon. You won’t regret it once you’re there and be prepared for some of the best blue marlin fishing of your life.
The Dominican Republic sits on a high ridge with seriously deep drop-offs on either side of the island that makes it an awesome blue marlin fishery. Over the past 5 years, it has slowly risen to fame among the bill fishing community and is now renowned as one of the best blue marlin fisheries in the world.
Blue marlin cruise the warm waters around the Dominican Republic all year round, the low season runs from February to May and the high season is July to September, there is no low season. In high season you can expect to see fish every day and are likely to bump into double-headers while you’re out there. The fish are not big but they are plentiful and make for some amazing all-day action. The fishing can be so good that in 2013 the Dominican Republic was named the number 1 bill fishery having had one of the best blue marlin seasons the world has ever seen.
There are a number of professional charters to be found with excellent boats and crew that will show you a good time. There’s a lot of other things to do on the island outside of fishing with beautiful snorkeling, diving, white sand beaches plus some fantastic resorts to stay at.
The islands of Seychelles sit slap bang in the middle of the Indian Ocean and have some exceptional blue marlin fishing which is not publicized very well. I only know about it because I have fished there. If you fly into Mahe and book a charter to fish off Denis Island, you won’t be disappointed. I have heard stories of 20 blue marlin being landed by a single boat in one day, that doesn’t even include the fish that were missed, that is some insane fishing right there. There are also black and striped marlin, sailfish, and broadbill making a fantasy slam very do-able. The best time to be there is not public knowledge and if you’re interested, I’m sure a charter captain in Mahe will divulge.