Unofficial World Record Black Marlin
Report written by David Clahan
October 2016 my friends, Colin Hilberg, Lindsey Walicek, my fiancee Zagdaa Baatar and I traveled to Baja, Mexico hoping to catch some Yellowtail and Wahoo. Little did I know, this would be the most epic fishing trip of my life.
We usually go twice a year and stay with our good friends Chay M. Ochoa and Linda Selby who own and operate the excellent Sea Sniper Baja resort. Although I have been there over a dozen times before, something was different this time. A storm brewing on the Pacific side gave way to incredibly calm waters on the Gulf of Mexico. The calm waters continued throughout our first day and I caught a nice size wahoo right off the bat. Made me very happy with the choice of spear gun I brought this time, it was the 67 inch Sea Sniper.
Chay informed us of his secret seamount spot and the following morning we awoke at 3:30 a.m. extremely excited. We traveled the 2.5 hours and upon arrival were simply awestruck at the sheer amount of life there, it was heaven. The water was crystal clear with visibility of over 100 ft. deep.
By 10 a.m. I had put my first Wahoo in the boat. I used a homemade set up flashers on a Rob Allen float. After a few minutes, something very large caught my eye. It was about 35 feet down quickly closing the 15 foot gap between it and the flashers. I dove and went into chase mode. This fish was bigger than anything I had ever shot. I quickly surmised it was at least a 300 pound Marlin. As I came into range I remembered Chay telling me that “Shooting a Marlin in the tail is a great holding shot”. Aiming my 67 inch Sea Sniper gun at the the tail, I took a long shot of about 20 feet. I do not think I could’ve hit it any farther back on the tail than where it hit. As my float went screaming down and out of sight, I thought I had just lost my float and there was no way that shot was going to hold. I surfaced and motioned for Arturo, the boat captain to pick me up. He saw me waving without my float and quickly guided the boat to my side. I told him I had a huge fish directly straight down. After about 8 minutes of looking for the float, we saw the tip pop up around 75 yards away from us. I jumped back in the water and swam over to it. Arturo pulled up behind me and threw a hard float down. I saw the bottom of his boat heading over to pick everyone else up as I was dragged out into the sea by this gigantic Marlin. I still couldn’t believe that shot was still holding!
After 15-20 minutes the fish began diving again. I had to let go and let him tire out. When I finally noticed him getting tired, I began pulling him up 6 inches at a time, lowering the float down because I couldn’t actually pull him up. I think the tail shot was an excellent location because it tires the fish out from kicking. Meanwhile I was still working the fish up on my buoy and finally I was able to pull it straight up working the tail. It was nerve wracking grabbing this massive fish because one kick from the tail and I could have gotten into some real trouble. Fortunately, he didn’t resist and I was able to flip him belly up and bleed him out from the gills.
Arturo and my friends pulled up on the boat. They all had the same look of shock and disbelief on their faces. We all got it into the boat and then breathed a huge sigh of relief. This fish was massive. It took up the whole center of the boat. We couldn’t even move without stepping on it.
Since it was still so early in the morning, we doused the Marlin in cool water throughout the day, everyone helping and taking turns to keep the temperature down. Arturo thought the fish could easily be about 270-350 pounds. This turned out to be an incredible day and I had a really nice fish to show for it. We headed back to our original spot and I went back in and caught a 40 pound Wahoo and a 20 pound Tuna.
So, after completing a successful day of fishing, we headed back to camp at Sea Sniper Baja. When we arrived, Chay saw the fish and estimated it to be around 400 pounds. It took five guys just to lift it up to the edge of the boat. The picture only shows the part of the fish that’s on the edge of the boat, most of it is on the back. When we tried to weigh the fish, even with everyone’s help, we couldn’t hold it up high enough. We cut the fish into sections and weighed those. While cutting the Marlin in half, a whole intact 5 pound Bonita fell out. Bonus fish! The total came out to be 509 pounds. Plus a few pounds with the couple things that fell out, we estimated it to be over 515 pounds. While prepping the meat, someone had said maybe it’s a world record but I didn’t think much of it from all the excitement and thought someone must have shot one bigger. Going on 21 hours, we were all exhausted and went to bed.
The next morning I looked up the world record and it was recorded to be 467 pounds. I was shocked! I asked what we needed to do to verify it and the only thing we did not do was use a tape measure. They do not accept it without the girth and length in the record book. Oh well, it was not as important as saving the meat and having this incredible story to share with my family and friends. For me, this was the most epic day of fishing of my life, so far. And from now on, I always bring a tape measure on my fishing trips, just in case!