9-Year-Old Angler Captures Billfish Grand Slam

See Cooper McGlashan's story, which started Jan. 1 when he caught a black marlin in New South Wales, Australia

Fishing for billfish
Cooper McGlashan, of Sydney, Australia, fishes for billfish earlier this year on his quest for a grand slam.Courtesy Al McGlashan

Cooper McGlashan started his billfishing career Jan. 1.

In just one month, the 9-year-old angler from Sydney, Australia, already had a grand slam.

McGlashan's trip Jan. 1 with the Strikezone crew became something of a nod to his future. At the tail end of the trip, McGlashan was able to catch the first in the prestigious trio of billfish.

"The line snapped out of the outrigger and before anyone had a chance Coops was on the rod and without any help set the circle hook," says his father, Al McGlashan. "Seconds later 50 kilos of black marlin exploded out of the water."

It took 20 minutes for Cooper to bring it boat side and quickly set it free — igniting a new favorite hobby.

“Watching that fish swim away triggered a passion,” Al says. “… Suddenly there was no stopping him and he was nagging to marlin fish every single day.”

Strikezone continued giving Cooper chances at billfish. A few weeks after the first catch, Cooper joined the crew on the water down the coast at Kiama. Early in the trip, Cooper got his hands on a rod that hooked a striped marlin.

Suddenly, he had two-thirds of the grand slam.

“With two species under he's belt he suddenly had an insatiable appetite for a blue marlin,” his father says. “The problem was that (New South Wales, the state in which Sydney is located) was experiencing one of the best striped and black bites in history so he had to be content practicing on those first.”

Child angler fishing for billfish
Cooper McGlashan, 9, needed just one month of fishing to capture a billfish grand slam in the waters around Sydney, Australia.Courtesy Al McGlashan

Add in the fact blue marlin tend to stay further offshore compared to black marlin and striped marlin, and it’s not often a beginner 9-year-old angler will have the chance to catch the third installment.

Well, the opportunity eventually came.

"They don't stack up on the bait like the other two making them much harder to find and more enigmatic in nature," Al says. "However as luck would have it a late flush of hot water pushed down the coast bringing with it Sydney's best run of blue marlin ever and Cooper's run of good luck continued!"

Al adds that blue marlin in the New South Wales area are usually in the 160- to 240-kilogram range. The hot water brought smaller blue marlin — around 80 to 120 kilograms — meaning Cooper had a better chance to bring one in.

“So with some calm weather coming up Cooper somehow convinced his mum to give him a day off school to have crack at a blue,” Al says. “The fishing was hot straight from the start and the crew were unlucky pulling the hooks on two before Coops was up. He may have been delegate strike last but it only took 20 minutes to hook up. It took him an hour but he got his blue marlin successfully, sealing his grand slam!”

A grand slam is a cool accomplishment for any angler — but for a 9-year-old kid just a month into his fishing, it's unbelievable, right? Believe it.

"Catching a billfish grand slam is something that seems to be high on everyone's agenda. Why not?" Al says. "It’s a privilege to catch just one marlin but to get all three, especially in your home waters, is as good as it gets. In (New South Wales) we are lucky enough to have all three in prolific numbers, so catching a black, blue and striped is a very real proposition. It usually takes several years of hard work to achieve."

And in the opinion of Cooper’s father, this type of story should happen more often.

“The morale behind this story is that we need to get more kids out there enjoying the amazing fishing we have on offer instead of leaving them to play video games at home,” Al says. “Once you get them out there doing it, they will be hooked big time!”