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Florida Fishing - Species

MARLIN

Regulations

86" minimum size for blue marlin, 62" minimum size limit for white marlin; no closed season for either species; one of each species per person per day limit

General Information

Catching one of these fish is a lifetime experience for most anglers. An encounter with either species requires a trip offshore, often outside the state's territorial waters and into Federal waters. King to the hill is the blue marlin which averages approximately 300 pounds and can live over 30 years . It is considerably larger than the white marlin which averages a modest 60 pounds and seldom lives longer than 10 years. Interestingly, the larger and therefore older fish of both species are always females.

Distribution

The two species do best in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. You can catch white and blue marlin along the Atlantic coast from Saint Augustine to the Florida Keys. The best fishing for either species is from Palm Beach south to the Keys. Gulf coast distribution is limited to the offshore waters of the panhandle during the summer months.

Tackle and Techniques

This is a specialized type of fishing requiring expensive, heavy duty rods and reels. Trolling is the traditional method used to fish for these billfish and catch and release fishing is widely practiced.

Fighting one of these fish is usually done from a special fighting chair mounted in the working area of the boat. Once a fish is hooked the angler is strapped into the seat so he or she isn't pulled out of the boat. Boating a fish also requires a captain who knows how to maneuver the boat to keep the fish from breaking off. A few brave and experienced anglers will fight these fish from a standing position, but this is not recommended for beginners.

Bait

A slow troll of a live bait, such as a bonita, works well but trolling an artificial bait is the most popular method of fishing. Special big game lures can be trolled at a faster speed than a live bait allowing anglers to cover more territory.

The lures have a hard plastic head that resembles a fish head with a plastic skirt attached that looks like a Hawaiian Hula dancer would wear. The hooks are rigged separately to the lure body.

Secrets to Success

* Chartering an experienced captain with a well equipped boat is the best way to hook one of these fish. The cost of everything associated with billfishing makes hiring a guide a very practical choice.

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