Now why do you suppose Getting Nauti features a marlin as one of our signature fish to display on our T-shirts, tank tops, baseball jerseys, hoodies and other men’s and women’s apparel? For that matter, why does the marlin figure so predominantly in…well, most touristy coastal communities on both U.S. coastlines?
If you replied something along the lines of “‘cause it’s about the baddest fish in the sea,” give yourself a gold star because it is one badass fish. Mind you, the Great Whites or Tigers of the shark family might suggest that a marlin ain’t all that tough, but, absent teeth, pound per pound it is one tough fish. In fact, we’d posit that those sharks should mind their own business because, well, they’re almost like some other completely separate species right? Kind of like comparing a raccoon to an armadillo.
In fact, the marlin pretty much represents the Holy Grail for saltwater fisherman. And not so much for its taste or commercial value—unless you live in Japan, where everything from the ocean tastes great (especially raw) and is worth a lot of money—but because it is the most exciting saltwater fish one can catch.
Just ask Santiago, a Cuban fisherman who battled an 18-foot marlin for three days back in the early 1950s….
Oh, well, guess you can’t ask him because he’s a work of fiction, crafted in 1951 by Ernest Hemingway in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Old Man and the Sea.” But Hemingway, a long-time marlin fisherman before writing the book, along with noted author Zane Grey, are considered instrumental in the rise of marlin fishing as a popular sport, because they wrote about their experiences so enthusiastically and extensively back in the 1930s.
Back then people didn’t have televisions, let alone Xboxes and the like, to occupy their free time, so when cool experiences were described in books and magazines people were much more likely to go out and actually try such experiences themselves. Which they did. World War II put a big damper on the nascent sport fishery, but Hemingway’s novel helped revive it, and the sport has grown ever more popular since.
Of course, much as the fish is big, you are going to have to spend some seriously big coin to catch it. It’s not like you can just go buy some shrimp and cast a baited hook off the beach or from a dock and expect to catch a marlin. No, you’re going to need a big boat and probably a lot of expensive gear. While you might get lucky if you pull a Santiago and head out to the deep water in a small, beat-up, 16-foot sailing skiff with some cut bait, hooks and braided line, I wouldn’t bet your life on it.
Die-hard marlin fisherman can spend hundreds of thousands, even into the millions, of dollars on their sport. The specialized deep-sea, big-game fish seeking boats alone can easily cost $1 million and upwards. Heck, we’ve seen a specialized big game rod and reel going for more than $5,000.
Now for us common folks who would wince at trying to pony up $7,500 to $18,000 for a half decent fighting chair (which you’re going to need if you hook into a sizable marlin), there’s always the charter. For a reasonable amount of money (with the reasonability being highly dependent upon location, boat, skipper, equipment and likelihood of catching a marlin), you too can be like Ernest Hemingway for a day.
So, what can you expect if you go out marlin fishing? Well, if you actually hook into one, you might be in for the fight of your life, given that they are the largest bony fish species in the world. The world record for all marlin subspecies caught on a rod and reel stands at 1,805 pounds for a Pacific blue marlin caught by a boat out of Hawaii in 1970. This fish was so big that they found a 150-pound whole yellowfin tuna in its belly. Numerous other 1,000-pound-plus marlin have been caught over the years, and a commercial fisherman out of Japan even caught one that weighed almost 2,500 pounds (now that’s a lot of sushi!).
If you manage to catch one of these big ones, you have likely caught a female, as males generally max out at only 330 pounds. And these girls do not like to be hooked. Once hooked they will fight almost to the death to get off, going deep, pulling hard and leaping out of the water in a schizophrenic frenzy…and will just keep repeating that and perform other tricks. And “to the death” could mean your death, as marlins have been known to attack fishermen and fishing boats. That long bill-like thing (the marlin is often mistaken for a swordfish by non-fishing types) is a weapon used by the marlin to stun its prey, so it kind of makes sense that he (I mean “she”) might turn and use it on an attacker—i.e., a fisherman and his boat. And this seems to happen periodically.
All in all, should you hook into a decent size marlin, you will undoubtedly experience one of the most exciting catches of your life. And if, for whatever reason, you can’t catch the fish, you can always grab the Getting Nauti Marlin shirt.