You’ll also find information on guide services and tournaments -- so you can hook into this thrilling blockbuster escapade and your very own marlin, sailfish, swordfish or spearfish. American author Ernest Hemingway knew something about these grueling clashes; he was a fervent deep-sea fisherman who frequently spent more than half his year afloat on the Straits of Florida and held several records for catching marlin.
Hemingway often featured these striking blue and silver beauties in his books, including The Old Man and the Sea, which chronicles a heroic struggle between an aging fisherman named Santiago and an enormous marlin. Blue Marlins have blue-black backs that blend into silver-white bellies, and the tips of their dorsal, pectoral and anal fins are pointed.
These giants of the deep feed mostly on fish and squid, hunting alone and usually during the day, sometimes using their lengthy, sharp bills to pierce or stun their prey. The Florida state record for a Blue Marlin is a whopping 1,046 pounds, caught near Panama City.
Known for their feisty dispositions and jaw-dropping leaps, these native fish are dark blue to brown on their backs, which blends into silvery-white bellies. White Marlins use their bills to daze squid and pelagic fishes before eating them, ranging throughout the Atlantic and Caribbean.
Often misidentified as White Marlin, Round scale Spearfish are a separate species, though they’re a similar size, commonly 62 to 70 inches in length and 45 to 65 pounds. It’s no coincidence a charter boat captain from Destiny caught his record-breaking 1,046-pound Blue Marlin in those gorgeous, clear waters.
Likewise, there are obvious reasons why the area is home to multiple prestigious billfish tournaments and why Destiny’s nickname is the “World’s luckiest fishing village.” If you’re headed to Northwest Florida and the Panhandle, a bit later in the year is perfect, and October is rated as the most productive month.
It’s best to troll with 50 to 80-pound tackle, and use high-quality, large-volume wide reels with generous line capacity, just to have a fair chance if you hook into a big game fish. With bragging rights as Florida's official saltwater fish, the iconic Sailfish is utterly unique, with an imposing, sail-like steel-blue dorsal fin that runs nearly the length of its back as well as a long, spear-like bill.
With bragging rights as Florida's official saltwater fish, the iconic sailfish is utterly unique, with an imposing, sail-like, steel-blue dorsal fin that runs nearly the length of its back and a long, spear-like bill. Stunning to the eye, this prized fish has a dark violet-blue body that blends into lighter hues of blue-gray or blue-brown on its sides and a delicate silvery white on its belly.
Its speed -- upwards of 60 mph -- combined with its magnificent looks and acrobatic jumps make a sailfish fishing expedition irresistible for both seasoned anglers and novices. Sailfish are a quickly growing species that reach four or five feet in a single year, feeding aggressively on small fish and squid.
In the summer, off southeast Florida, Sailfish migrate inshore to shallow water and spawn close to the surface. Slender enough to fit into the sailfish’s small mouth, and abundant in winter, the ballyhoo is a popular choice for bait.
Trolling usually includes using a dredge, which consists of umbrella shaped wires rigged with numerous live or dead baits. When pulled through the water, the dredge mimics a school of bait fish -- which to a sailfish means a hearty meal.
As the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission points out, Sailfish tire easily and should be revived after a long fight to ensure their survival. This prized fish is usually a deep brown to purple color, which fades to a lighter hue underside, and it doesn’t have pelvic fins, scales or teeth.
One of the most coveted fish by anglers and foodies alike, it can be readily identified by its elongated, sword-like bill, purple hue, and cylindrical build. These giants gravitate to frigid, extremely deep water in the 1,000 to 1,500-foot range that can be found in the middle of the Gulf Stream and Straits of Florida.
Be forewarned, fishing for swordfish isn’t for the fainthearted, and landing one of these marvelous monsters is not only thrilling but perilous. In the daytime hours, swordfish stay in the depths of the ocean, and catching them requires an abundance of line and patience.
But under the cover of darkness they’ll swim up to 500 feet, or even less in search of a meal, where anglers aim to catch them drift fishing. Fishing at night for swordfish many times involves lights as well as heavy hooks drifted with balloons to help you notice the strike.
Use your bottom finder to search for hills, valleys or other structure; that’s where your potential catch will be hunting for a meal. It’s best to use a few lines at multiple depths and drift with the Gulf Stream on a northerly crawl using a sea anchor to slow your speed.
Attaching safety lines to your rods is smart; they’ll stop the formidable swordfish from removing your gear from the boat while it performs aerobatics. A chum line laden with live and dead baits, including Mullet, Herring, Bonito, Goggle-Eyes, Mackerel, Squid, Eels and Deepwater Hake can useful to tempt the Swordfish.
Local fishing guides will have a wealth of knowledge and experience recognizing billfish migration patterns and where your potential catch is located. Remember that the waters can be choppy in the open ocean, so pack sea sickness medicine if you’re not accustomed to the bounce.
Whether you’re looking for a tournament with immense marlin, robust competition, rich payoffs or great parties, you’re bound to find it in Florida. This prestigious, all-release billfish tournament is rich in tradition, promising intense competition and rivalry as well as superb fishing.
EMERALD COAST BLUE MARLIN CLASSIC, Sandstone: Purses topping well over one-million dollars, a mind-blowing Sunday morning brunch and a stunning location on a white-sand beach combine to make this June event a must-do for some of the best teams in sport- fishing. It runs simultaneously with Hemingway Days and delivers nightly fun that includes a fish fry, a pig roast and awards banquet.
Florida East Coast Final Sail, Miami Beach, Marlin Madness Qualifying Event Chasing Marlin in the Gulf Stream is one of the most thrilling and challenging fishing experiences you can find.
Having a mammoth Marlin hooked and trying to bring it to the boat is a feat of skill, strength, and patience, because the battles are known to last for several hours. The truth is that you can hook your next trophy anywhere along the coast of Florida, as long as you don’t mind going on the longer boat rides to get to the best fishing grounds.
The reason why Marlin fishing is so successful in the Keys is “The Wall.” This is where the ocean floor drops off suddenly from 1,000 to 2,000 quickly and that makes it the perfect hunting ground for the mighty Marlin. Islamabad and Marathon also offer premier fishing action, and let’s not forget about legendary Destiny.
If you’d like to make the most of your time on the water, head out to your Marlin hunt anytime from late July to October. Late August is the best time to cast your line around The Wall and wait for a record-sized catch to double down your rod.
The Panhandle area can also be productive for Billfish anglers, and you’ll find Marlin there later in the year, usually in October. Because Marlin like to hide in the deep water, you will need to book longer (8+ hours) trips to have plenty of time for everything.
Because these fishing adventures take place in the open ocean, the waters can get choppy, so make sure to bring plenty of sea sickness medicine. Plenty of food and drinks is a must, though some charters have that on offer as well, just double check with the captain.
Whether you’re a first-time Marlin hunter or a seasoned pro, fighting these giants of the deep will be one of the most thrilling and memorable escapades of your life. MarlinFishing is the purist form of big game sport fishing.
The celebrated author and angler who often frequented the waters of the Gulf Stream, Hemingway pioneered the use of outriggers in big game fishing. On June 14, 1985, Warren Culbertson, fishing from Destiny, landed a blue marlin which tipped the scales at 980.5 pounds.
To this day it still remains the largest blue caught on hook and line in the Gulf! The most effective method of targeting blue marlin is trolling lures and rigged baits at a quick clip anywhere from 3-20 miles offshore.
If you’re lucky enough to get the bite from a blue marlin, expect a world-class battle as you must fight for every inch of line you retrieve. High quality large capacity lever drag reels and matching rods are a must for successful Marlin fishing.
An angler can expect even a small marlin (200 lbs) to run off 200 to 300 yards of line in a matter of seconds. The Bimini Twist offers 100 % breaking strength and also acts as an additional shock absorber.
A good recommendation is the original Sea Boots Kong Lure or the Knucklehead. The short pump and wind tactic is a good technique for breaking standoffs.