2,000 BLUE MAR­LIN AND COUNT­ING

Capt. Steve Camp­bell’s 18 sea­sons of de­tailed sta­tis­tics re­veal fas­ci­nat­ing data

Marlin - - BEFORE THE STRIKE - BY SCOTT BAN­NER OT

IIn the mid-1990s, I was a new ar­rival to the won­ders of bill­fish­ing. I out­fit­ted a 41-foot alu­minum-hulled sloop named Elan with out­rig­gers and tackle, put my Florida Keys-based char­ter busi­ness on hold and sailed through the Panama Canal to see what I could dis­cover in the wide Pacific Ocean. One clus­ter of idyl­lic, ver­dant is­lands in the mid­dle of the South Pacific called the Vava‘u group par­tic­u­larly cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion. It be­longs to the last Pacific monar­chy, the King­dom of Tonga, and I felt go­ing there might be sim­i­lar in many ways to vis­it­ing Hawaii 100 years or so ago. Dur­ing my sec­ond visit there in 1998, I met a Kiwi cap­tain named Steve Camp­bell, who’d stopped en route from a sea­son in Samoa with his 46-foot cus­tom Alan Wright sport-fish­ing cata­ma­ran to fish the Tonga In­ter­na­tional Bill­fish Tour­na­ment. I guess Vava‘u had a sim­i­lar ef­fect on Camp­bell be­cause by the year 2000 he was char­ter­ing there with bet­ter-adapted boats, and catch­ing the heck out of blue mar­lin in the is­lands. He re­mains there to this day.

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