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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Alternate Title - Poco Bueno on a budget

Fished Thursday, Friday, and Saturday out of POC. Started mid-week so only partner I located on short-notice was my son Brazos (aka Catchem). Since boating a sailfish a couple of years ago he's been itching to go billfishing. As it was only us two, we already have a freezer full of fish, and seas were extreemly calm, decided to "humor" him and run out to try the East Breaks - Dutra - Falcon triangle.
Catchem brought a stockpile of acummulated reading-to-many-magazines gear (3 50W's, 1 with 80lb-test, spreader-bar teasers, soft bird teasers, squid daisy chains, lots of other plastics, and a monster green plastic by Ballyhood called a Bisbee). He was determined to go after Mr Blue Suit, not just billfish. I chuckled inside but did not want to burst his bubble. I had hoped we could hook up with a small-to-decent wahoo or a bull dolphin, but now was worried about any chances of fish with this too-big spread.

Smooth seas helped us make the shelf area in about 2 hours and we proceeded to start trolling for Marlin (yea right). I was driving the boat and Catchem put out a myriad of teasers and lures trailed by the monster green Bisbee. At the requested fuel-sucking mid-range trolling speed our boat put out an extreemly wide, long, propwash. Catchem adjusted by running the spread WAY OUT. We also decided to use our outrodders to try and get the lures in cleaner water. After an hour, during a troll-slowdown to shake some grass, I thought I saw a bill nosing the Bisbee. Then I saw it again clearly. "BILLFISH!!" We trolled back and forth over that area for another 30 minutes without another sighting. Then all heck broke loose in our little 19' boat. We have brought in sailfish, large sharks, 140 lb YellowFin Tuna, but we were not prepared for our first Blue Marlin. The spool of that previous-viewed overkill 50W all of a sudden looked too small for the job, and was screaming down at an unbelievable rate. Catchem is a light guy at 110 lbs. I stupidly yelled "give it more drag!" He was instantly yanked 10 feet to the front of the boat. How he managed to stay in the boat and keep the rod was beyond me, but the 80lb line was still flying out with only a small percentage left.

Time then stood still as I saw my first airborne Blue Marlin. It came straight out of the water, it's tail remaining in the water, and leaned over with a big splash. THATS WHEN I KNEW WE WERE IN TROUBLE. I haven't weighed/measured any Marlin, but I know the portion out of the water was > 6 feet. I had only a single teaser reeled in from timbaktu, but instantly decided our only chance was chasing after the running Marlin with the boat. I gunned the boat toward Mr Blue Suit to try and beat the empty spool and Catchem potentially getting pulled over. I was going foward fast, > 15 mph, maybe even 25 mph, bouncing Catchem on the bow rail like a forgotten bumper, with 0 hands available to hold on, and that Marlin was still taking line. Catchem started putting a little line back on the spool. We looked up and realized why. The Marlin had started running towards us. I still had 3 or 4 lines out behind us and Catchem was yelling to CUT THE D*&% LINES. I proved my Wife correct and was too cheap to purposely cut loose all that money. The line came zipping basically under the boat and we maneuvered around for another chase and 1 more almost spooling. I was quicker on the throttle and we caught up to the run faster. But since I was erroneously (was informed later) chasing towards him, I overran him and slack developed, so Mr Blue Suit managed to shake the hook. I was on cloud nine, elated at hooking up with a Marlin. Catchem was ready to throw me out of my own boat for not cutting the lines and concentrating on maneuvering the boat.

In the heat of the aftermath we decided too much line was taken too quick for us to recover from that monster, probably due to not enough drag preset for the 80 lb line, so we tightened down the drag (bad decision).

Later that afternoon trolling back from East Breaks, we had another good hookup in the same 1/4 mile area as our first Marlin, again on the Bisbee. Catchem gave this fish a longer fight but it eventually shook the hook. Never saw what it was but it was sizeable. Also hooked a 2 foot dolphin on another Ballyhood lure he sells called a PayBack.

Friday was Poco Bueno. When we arrived after a 3 1/2 hour ride out in no-longer flat seas, the "Night Lady" had just lost a nice fight with a Blue Marlin they estimated to be around 500 lbs, in roughly the same location we lost ours. May or may not have been the same fish, but gave me some satisfaction knowing people with more experience than I estimated a large Marlin in that immediate area. We reduced the number of teasers and ran the whole spread closer in to aid our reaction time for the next hookup. We decided to not use the outrodder and ran the Bisbee straight behind the boat. We finally ran out of trolling gas without a single hit. We had planned on overnighting but now only had enough gas to get back. No use staying out overnight if we couldn't troll the next day. So we spent 60 gallons of gas and 7 hours of traveling to go get 15 gallons for trolling on Saturday. Funny economics.

With Poco Bueno going on we couldnt get a motel, so we watched the Poco weigh-ins and headed back out at 11:30 pm. On way out of POC we were passed by one of the Poco Bueno boats blasting across diag the short way to the little jetties at a fast clip. Looked like he was trying to beat the midnight 1st day weigh-in. No moon and tired, so decided to sleep anchored off the lee shore of the island. Beautiful, breezy sleeping, awakened only by the waves from the occasional ship as the waves-from-nowhere crashed along the shore.

Saturday morning the seas were a little rougher yet and it took us 4 1/2 hours to make it out. The Poco Bueno group had been out all night and the action noted on Friday seemed to have stopped based on radio chatter. We eventually trolled off to Dutra but came back to our Thursday hotspot. With seas up, we had not been successfull at keeping the Bisbee bubbling on the surface as on the successful day. Decided to take the lowest-common-denominator for speed, the spreader, off and increase speed to get the Bisbee bubbling constantly on the surface. Within 5 minutes our Bisbee reel began screaming. FISH ON and BIG! Catchem reached for the rod, and at that point it all becomes a blur. What we KNOW happened is an explosion and his new 50W took off like a missile DOWN into the deep. It wasnt a slow sinking, it was rocketing. Looking at the boat where our rod holder used to be it looks as if the spot welds of the top of the rodholder to the body broke, allowing the outrodder to pivot and pull the rodholder out. The 1/3" nylon saftey strap did not appear to be as strong as the 80lb line and snapped at the grommet holding it to the outrodder, and the decision to tighten down the drag appears to have been a grave mistake. Within 3-5 minutes we heard a splash. Looked up and it was a Marlin thrashing on the surface, kind of billing. Drove over to it and got several good looks at it before it went down again. I think it was trying to shake the line still. We trolled for a bit, then called over a Cabo in the area letting them know we had raised a blue. We had visions of someone winning Poco with it, and maybe returning our rod and reel in the process.

We returned to POC sandwiched in the Poco Bueno fleet. Was cool Saturday evening to look across the horizon and see large white battleships coming from all points in the gulf, converging on little POC. Heard the chatter of "How was Little Sisters, how about Cervesa, spent the night at Hospital Rock, found a rip 50 miles south of East Breaks". And it sounded as if most of the Poco action happened within a few miles of where we spent Poco Bueno. COOL! Many boats never lost a rubber band. Only 1 boat landed a keeper. And we had 2, maybe 3 Marlin hookups. Not too bad for our accidental Poco. Some boats had 4 hookups with 0 making it to be measured. When we pulled up at the Fishing Store to load up, a large crowd was awaiting the fleet. A man looked down at our little boat and asked how we did. We told him "Great, we hooked up with 2 marlin, but lost them both". He smiled at our story and said "Son, those Poco boats go out over 50 miles into the gulf to hook up with them there Marlin....."


Some hard lessons learned (obvious in hindsight)
1. Keep your drag scale on board
2. Upping line weight requires considerations beyond rod/reel/tackle
3. 80 lb line can pull in a 110 lb young man before breaking if drag is over-set
4. You cannot brace yourself against the boat for a shallow outward run (Marlin) as securely as a deep run (Tuna)
5. Chase somewhat parallel to a running Marlin, not directly towards it
6. Marlin plastics trolling speed use fuel fast (pushing without planing)
7. A trusted producing lure (Bisbee in my case) becomes priceless when you no longer have one onboard 60-70 miles out
8. Need more than 2 people on the boat
9. Its not always a bad thing to follow the enthusiasm of the young
10. A Marlin is not a Sailfish - I underestimated the power of a large Marlin



Would welcome any experienced advice on boating a Marlin standup (no fighting chair)


esCape
 

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Live Like No One Else.
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That is a great report. I am ready for the day that I get a chance at a sail and them maybe a day to have a great story of hooking up to a Marlin.
 

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Good on you two esCape. That was a great report. Unfortunate about the rod and reel, thanks for sharing all the details with us.
 

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Just one More
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esCape,

That's a great report! I felt like I was right there and wish I would of been to help clear the other lines. As for now just remimber the sight of that Marlin jumping out in front of you and your son. With hopes for the next time you will leader it and be able to say you caught Mr Bluesuit.
 

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From the old school
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What a father son time

man what a report. It sounds like a REEL learning experience. You are now a blue marlin veteran with the battle scars on the boat

I would have tryed to chunk a diamond jig after that rod that went over board esp. if the fish stayed on the surface.
Now replace all the rod holders with lee rod holders and reinforce the gunnel and after my experience with rods overboard all trolling rods have safety lines on them with good clips.....you get a good feeling when the next one pops out and the safety line keep your rig in the boat.
Go spend the money on a good fighting harness with back support that you can put some pressure on so after a hour you will not be spent
So you going back out this week?
joker
 

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Freelance Gynocolgist
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Awesome report! I will re-mention the below

7. A trusted producing lure (Bisbee in my case) becomes priceless when you no longer have one onboard 60-70 miles out


Always have 2-3 backups for the backup
 

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escape you are going to need to attach a safety line on brazos. by the way you need to start feeding him lead weights so he can bulk up. great report and happy ending. you suceeded in hooking up to 2 quality fish and made brazos one happy lure salesman all in one weekend. now how are you going to keep him in dallas?....rick
 

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Your story reminded me of my first marlin off of Destin FL in 1967. A friend of mine and myself had just returned from Viet-Nam and were instructing at Hurlhurt Field Fl in the A1E. We both had gotten relatively small boats, (a 19' and 16') to fish inshore. We got to know some of the charter captains in Destin and noticed that occassionialy, a few were headed to the southwest and bringing in a few billfish. We were getting tierd of catching Kings, and asked where to go for the billfish. We were told to head 210' until we came to the blue water!. So on the 4th of July, we load up the 19 ftr with several extra 6 gal cans of gas, baits that we made from bonita sides, our mackeral rods with 30# test line and a teaser made from a Budweiser can that we had punched holes in, and headed for the deep blue. ( also note: no radio and single 125 HP engine - hell we had been over N. Viet-Nam in a single engine prop fighter- so this was no big deal!!!!).
Ran for about 1 1/2 hrs to the blue water and started trolling by sitting on the back of the seats with our thumbs on the reels and the reels in free-spool. My friend got some weeds on his bait after about 45 min. and had brought his line in when I see this fin come up behind my bait. I said "look a shark" but at the same time I followed the instructions we had been given of letting the line free-spool out and count to ten. After the count, I put it in gear and set the hook and was looking behind the boat to see if any thing was there. About that time, a blue marlin breaks water about 150 yards off to the side of the boat and then we both watched as the line from the rod raced from behind the boat directly to the marlin!!! Talk about surprised; fortunately, no other rods were out and my buddy started the engine and we took off after the marlin. After about an hour and a half we managed to get him up alongside of the boat and it was about 3/4 as long as the boat!!! We were looking down at him and he was on his side looking up at us with this huge eye. Guess he didn't like what he saw as he took off again and we followed him for another hour. Finally had him somewhat subdued as he was doing lazy circles around the boat. Then 2 big sharks started swimming along side of the marlin and my line went over the back of one of the sharks and parted. I was actually relieved as I sure didn't want the marlin to be shark food-was also sure that once it was free it would handle the sharks.
The next year, I had a 21' boat and my friend had a 24' boat- both with out-riggers, radios, 50-80# rods and reels and professional teasers. we spent the next 3 years running off-shore and catching many sails and whites but only hooked into 2 other blues during that time. After retiring from the AF, my buddy stayed in Destin and became a charter boat captain and I ended up in Dallas; a long ways from the "blue water" that I loved so much. Been fortunate to be able to chase marlin out of Costa Rica and Cabo San Lucas over the past 8 years. Getting ready to retire for the last time and have bought my 22' Pro-Line in anticipation of getting to the coast permanently. So "catchem"; hang in there and follow them marlin whereever they lead you-it's worth it
 

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That is a great story.....I love it. I cant wait to catch my first but am not aiming at it any time soon. I still enjoy inshore (40 miles) fishing too much to chase after them suckers. I have started building my gear more towards big game now though, lure collection and rod/reel collection.
 

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I think you got the lessons. Your story reminds me of the summer my dad and mom and wife and I pulled an 18 ft accross Mexico to Mazatlan. We fished 3 days.
Everybody caught at least one pacific sail over at least 100 pounds.

Had a Blue beside the boat on that trip, but the sails had been all we could handle with just 2 men. A real blast, and I still think of it.

Plan on being around the East Breaks myself for the "gathering".
Hope I can find a room close enough to carry the tackle from the boat.

Keep trying, and upgrade the boat infrastructure.
Mike
 

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Great report and story esCape and Catchem. I learned many of the same lessons last year when a friend and I hit the shelf beyond East Breaks last year on a morning when the water wasn't even rippling. Hooked up to a large Blue Marlin, with a 4/0 penn, imagine that. We weren't expecting it either, needless to say it ate our lunch and to our surprise also raced back to the boat leaving a loop of about 500 feet of line beyond the stern, then began passing us on the starboard side, came out of the water 3 times, about the top 1/3 of the body was all, rolled and then sounded and snap. This all took about 2 minutes.

2 people on the boat, no good, can't clear the lines and keep a captain at the wheel.
No backup for the plastic the fish hit
Too light a tackle
Not expecting a fish to go berzerk in the water and end up wanting to troll with our boat rather then us controlling him.

Amazing. Sounds to me like you have most of the lessons learned. Next is wiring the bad boy once you get him to the boat. I wired the one and only sailfish on our boat a couple years ago, the fish was about 7feet long. Rather eery feeling when holding the bill and looking at an eyeball the size of a golfball.

Just keep doing it and try to take someone who's handled these fish before to get some OJT. Bring good gloves for handling.

Great report. Ballyhood Bisbee, sounds like the ticket.
 

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WTG Guys! That was a great report! Next time take some extra gas cans so you can overnight after trolling. Yall's boat is probably rigged up like Dad's boat (20'cc Logic) just to hunt for big fish!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
newman,

We had 4 extra gas cans already to get out that far and troll all day. The mid-range trolling speed used up the fuel faster than I estimated. Faster than our normal troll, and slower than our wahoo troll. Next time might try to take another 3-4 cans, or might need to start looking at a bladder. Theres only so much room on a 19' boat.

MarlinChaser, loved your story. Coincidence that we both had Marlin raised while cleaning grass? I know during my non-Marlin trolling we often trigger hits by starting-stopping, gun it for a second, and such.

GregD, MarlinChaser - I wonder what are proven recovery methods for when Marlin turn and speed towards the boat. By the time you notice you already have a lot of slack. First Mate on the "Mechanics Dream" has had success on outboards running partially parallel, keeping the Marlin away from the boat.

esCape
 

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A bow in the line is not such a bad thing. Although you want to clear it fairly quickly. Think about all the tension that the water is creating on the line from the belly. It is plenty to keep the lure lodged in the fish. Run parrallel and slightly away from the fish as you clear the belly. Once on a tight line, in a small boat, you can either work her from the cockpit or continue running semi parrallel to the fish while gaining line. -tom
 
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