1. New Zealand - Striped Marlin, MakosWith 13 world-record striped marlin - all over 200 pounds - New Zealand leads the world in both size and numbers of striped marlin caught. Bay of Islands and Three Kings Islands off the country's northeast coast represent the most productive striped marlin grounds in the world, with 10-fish days not uncommon. Mako sharks also show up in numbers that few U.S. anglers would believe. Anglers can land 10 to 12 makos a day ranging in size from 100 to 400 pounds.
The jewfish (Epinephelus itajara) is the largest member of the grouper family. Female jewfish reach sexual maturity at six to seven years, and males four to six years. Maximum age is 37 for females and 26 for males, and maximum height/weight is estimated at 7 feet/1,000 pounds. Jewfish spawn offshore in 100 to 150 feet of water. As is the case with other groupers, it's believed jewfish eggs hatch in a day or so in the water column and spend about a month floating as plankton. They then move into estuaries and mangrove areas with an incoming tide and grow as juveniles.
If you catch a jewfish, you can help with the ongoing research effort. If the jewfish has a beaded tag, don't remove it. Instead, photograph the fish and tag if possible. Write down either the number on the tag or the black-and-white bead pattern. Note where the catch was made, plus the depth, date and time, estimated length, and any observations about the jewfish's condition. Call the tagging hot line toll-free at 800-367-4461, or send the information along with your name, address and phone number to Dr.
Stainless wire is at the heart of every kingfish rig, but "stainless" on the wrapper doesn't mean it won't rust. Wire exposed to salt spray and then packed away for a few months will turn black and begin to deteriorate. To solve the problem, buy wire in small coils, cut off what you need and quickly put the remainder back into a resealable plastic bag. If the supply coil gets salted, wash it off with fresh, soapy water, dry it, and then put it back in the plastic bag. Treat your finished rigs, complete with hooks and swivels, the same way.
Most kingfish experts prefer single-strand leader wire. Multi-strand cable, though flexible and softer to handle, can be cut by kingfish choppers a strand at a time until it lets your trophy swim away. It's also more visible than a single strand of wire. However, a few prefer Sevenstrand and other brands. "If my buddy using cable is catching and I'm not, I'll go to cable," says Clayton Kirby. "But unless the water is murky, I usually catch more on single-strand that's coffee-colored."
Any charter-boat mate scorns the use of pliers for handling wire, but weekenders may find a pair of needlenose pliers with wire cutters useful. Cutters are helpful in nipping off the wire from the coil, but don't use them for trimming tag ends - these must be cranked off so they break flush and don't leave sharp ends that stick fingers and catch moss. Pliers are also helpful in holding the wraps as you complete the haywire twist.
One of the best videos available on this topic is Dave Workman's Kingfishing Secrets. Workman, co-owner of C&H Lures, divulges his decades of experience in pursuing and catching king mackerel. The 100-minute video includes above-water and subsurface footage, graphics and demonstrations. For information, Contact High Hook, 9930 NW 59th Court, Parkland, FL 33076; 800-340-1544.
REELS -There's no shortage of quality reels on the market, but historically the "big two" for long-range tuna are the Penn International 50SW or Shimano Tiagra 50W-LRS. Most veteran stand-up yellowfin anglers spool these to about three-quarters capacity with 80- or 130-pound Spectra braided line attached to an 80- to 100-pound mono top shot of at least 100 yards. Other reels you're likely to see in use at night, spooled up the same way, include a Penn 50S or Shimano TLD 50LRS. Narrower 50s are perfect for yo-yoing large jigs and fishing live bait.
A specialized live-bait technique being used with great success on the West Coast is called "the spin." This tactic requires the use of large hooks, heavy gear and big baits such as a live mackerel, smaller tuna or bonito, or jacks. To fish the spin, simply grab a live bait and hook it crosswise through the underside (pelvic fins) and let it run. Once the bait slows, near bottom, begin to wind it back in. Retrieving the bait backward will cause it to spin in circles, radiating flashes from its belly in addition to causing vibrations. The spin can drive tuna nuts.
Boats leave either directly from San Diego on 13- to 19-day trips or from Cabo on eight- to 10-day trips after anglers fly in. Fly-in anglers can often drive their gear to the boat in San Diego before it departs. Call each landing for specifics.