Five Legendary Big Game Spots

Current and past big-game fisheries that every offshore angler should know about.

May 7, 2014
Many fisheries across the globe have, at one time or another, generated the sort of fishing upon which fables are built, producing big fish in numbers and attracting the attention of the world’s premier anglers. But among those, a few have gone down as truly special, often transforming the very way we fish and think about our sport. They give us something to dream about. Here are 10 such fisheries we highlighted in the print pages of Sport Fishing magazine. The five fisheries in this gallery deserve considerable recognition too. Even if not gaining as much historical prestige or lasting as long as many in the original 10, each fishery is one that most anglers would dream to experience. What fisheries did we miss? Tell us about the fisheries that didn’t make the cut and why they should be included COURTESY ZANE GREY INC. (LOWER RIGHT), COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG

Bluefin Tuna

Location: Southern California Primary Species: Tuna Golden Era: 1898 to present The History: The first bluefin tuna ever caught on rod and reel didn’t come from Bimini or the Canadian Maritimes — it stemmed from Catalina Island off the southern California coast. Ditto for the first marlin and swordfish. That tuna, landed by Colonel C.P. Morehouse in 1896, marked the beginnings of big-game fishing as we know it today, not to mention the construction of the oldest sport-fishing club in the world, The Tuna Club, built in 1898. The club’s goals were lofty and conservation-oriented and the Catalina fishery was amazing. Before long, Dr. Charles Frederick Holder caught another big tuna, a 183-pounder that gained national publicity and propelled big-game fishing into the national dialogue. Memorable Moment: At 115 years old, The Tuna Club is still active today — and a 251-pound bluefin caught by Morehouse in 1899 still stands as the club’s heavy-linen record. More information: The Tuna Club (; 310-510-0079) Courtesy Bill Roecker,

White Marlin

Location: Vitoria, Brazil Primary Species: White and blue marlin Golden Era: 1980s and 1990s The History: From the mid-1980s to the mid-’90s, Vitoria, Brazil, was an epicenter of record-setting marlin fishing. Seven IGFA line-class records were set for white marlin (all of which still stand), punctuating Vitoria’s bragging rights to the all-tackle record white, a 181-pound, 14-ounce fish caught only a few years earlier. But it was another fish that truly turned the big-game fishing world on its head. In 1992, Paulo Amorim caught a 1,402-pound, 2-ounce Atlantic blue marlin off Vitoria. The monster dwarfed the existing record by 120 pounds and even surpassed the all-tackle Pacific blue marlin record of 1,376 pounds. Memorable Moment: During the six hours it took to tow and weigh his marlin, Amorim said the fish spit up three tunas in the 20-pound class and a dorado. “Considering that, the blood it lost, and the dehydration,” he told Marlin[ital] magazine in 1994, “I’m sure that blue would have come close to 1,500 pounds.” More information: Capt. Eduardo Baumeier ([email protected]) Courtesy Ken Neill

Yellowfin Tuna

Location: Baja California, Mexico Primary Species: Yellowfin tuna Golden Era: 2012 to present The History: Legendary fisheries aren’t always a thing of the past — over the last couple of years, the waters south of Baja California have been producing an unusual amount of 350- to 400-plus-pound yellowfin tuna. The region, which includes the Revillagigedo Islands, experiences a high nutrient flow from the California Current system and has long been a mecca for cow yellowfins. But advances in fishing tactics and technologies are seeing absolute monsters coming aboard long-range charter vessels and private boats alike. Memorable Moment: In a three-month span last year, a new IGFA all-tackle record yellowfin tuna was caught (427 pounds), as well as the largest yellowfin ever taken on rod and reel, a 445-pounder. More information: Capt. Josh Temple (; Royal Star Sportfishing (; 619-224-4764) Courtesy Tim Ekstrom

Blue Marlin

Location: Madeira, Portugal Primary Species: Blue marlin Golden Era: 1990s The History: Probably the most significant discovery in big-game fishing over the last 50 years was the giant Atlantic blue marlin fishery off the Portuguese island of Madeira. Pioneered in the early 1990s by Capt. Roddy Hays, the numbers of huge marlin were astounding. Consider the three-month 1994 season — 200 blues were caught among four boats, averaging 700 pounds apiece, with at least 21 of those being granders. Tracy Melton also caught the first grander ever on stand-up gear that season, a 1,083-pounder. Fishing is still excellent in Madeira, but the abundance of bait has waned in recent years, as have the sheer numbers of huge fish. Still, it remains a topnotch big-fish destination. Memorable Moment: Legendary anglers Stewart Campbell and Guy Harvey are among several who caught two granders in a single day during Madeira’s heyday. More information: Capt. Peter Bristow (; 011-351-917-599-990) Courtesy Adrian Gray


Location: South Florida Primary Species: Swordfish Golden Era: Late 1970s; 2000 to present The History: Swordfishing in Florida is common today, but until 1976, the very thought of catching one of these gladiators was a mere dream. But Miami cousins Jesse and Jerry Webb — spurred by a conversation with Ernest Hemingway’s former captain, Gregerio Fuentes, and stories of recently caught commercial fish — landed a 348- and a 368-pounder on a warm July night that made newspaper headlines and jump-started a wild, new fishery. But it was short-lived — the recreational fishery ended when stocks collapsed within two years after being plundered by commercial longliners. Memorable Moment: Florida’s swordfishery was reborn and revolutionized yet again a decade ago. With stocks rebuilt, Richard Stanczyk and his Bud N’ Mary’s fishing crew discovered that fish could be caught deep during the daytime. With longliners out of the picture, this amazing fishery is still going strong today. More information: Bud N’ Mary’s Marina (; 800-742-7945) and Capt. Dean Panos (; 954-805-8231) Doug Olander

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