A CHANGING WORLD
Change is the only constant, and so we have only two choices: adapt, or be left behind. It wasn’t that long ago that most of us went marlin fishing with a stack of ballyhoo rigged on needle-eye J hooks and wire leaders. That evolved into using short-shank hooks and heavy monofilament; nowadays, it’s circle hooks with fluorocarbon. And this is just the fishhook, the most basic part of the equation. There will always be a better way to do something: a faster boat, more powerful electronics, a more effective dredge or even something as simple as a better hook. We have to stay on the leading wave of change, not clamoring for the latest fad but identifying the truly important groundswells and jumping on for the ride. Otherwise, one day you’ll find yourself dead in the water as the world passes you by in a blur of color and motion. Change is constant.
A few months ago, I was talking with a good friend of mine from North Carolina about the terrific blue marlin fishing on the seamounts in Costa Rica. He thoughtfully remarked that the best days are happening right now. That fishery is at its peak, and unfortunately, the only direction it can go is down. And he’s correct. Why? The answers are numerous, from increased recreational-fishing pressure (yes, as recreational anglers, we do have an impact on the fishery) to longlining efforts, purse-seining and a host of other threats. But wait, you cry, we’re using circle hooks and releasing all of our marlin! What about the ones that are being caught on live bait that come up smokebombing blood from a hook in the gills? Even if it just happens a few times a day, multiply that by the number of other recreational boats out there fishing for days at a time and it absolutely does add up. We need to change that.
While there’s no way to fish for marlin and sailfish without causing at least some harm from time to time, using dead bait is a pretty good start. The fish don’t wolf them down like a gumdrop-size live tuna, and besides, the bite is the best part anyway. I’d much rather spend the day trolling to see a fired-up blue crash the teasers than doing endless slow circles waiting for an unseen bite. So here’s one possible solution: Do away with live bait in the offshore seamount marlin fishery. Make it all dead bait and trolling only. It worked in Isla Mujeres more than 25 years ago, and it would work in Costa Rica today. The numbers will remain consistent, and it’s a long-term answer for the overall health of a booming fishery.
At Marlin, we will always be an advocate for healthy fisheries, and healthy anglers. In this issue, Heather Maxwell takes us on a tour of the many ladies-only billfish tournaments out there. If you’re looking for a really fun tournament to fish this summer, these are a great place to start. The charities they fund are incredibly important, both nationally and in their local communities. Besides, you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen 500 women in outlandishly original costumes enjoying a full open bar for a few hours. These events are a great way not only to join the fight against cancer but have a great time along the way. In any form, cancer is a terrible disease, but together, we can beat it. That change is coming as well.