One Boat, One Day, Nine Anglers: 330 Marlin

The record-setting number of releases off Baja’s Magdalena Bay came in just 6 ½ unbelievable hours of fishing.

Multiple marlin hookups
Pure mayhem, with insane action bringing nonstop multiple hookups on the Bad Company for hours.Erik Landesfiend

As the 92-foot Jones-Goodell Bad Company, ran along the pitch-black Pacific coast of Baja on its way back to our anchorage in Magdalena Bay,” Capt. Steve Lassley characterized the day as “crazy.” Understatement.

When the dust on November 6 had settled in the fading light offshore, nine anglers with six crew on the boat had released no fewer than 330 striped marlin.

Consider that our original goal — the brainchild of Bad Company owner Anthony Hsieh — for this outing was to break the standing record of 189 marlin in a day, having anglers casting live mackerel to marlin the bow. “When the Game Changer released 308 marlin a couple weeks before we left, trip planning got a lot more stressful because I knew Anthony was going to want to go for it,” Lassley told me later. “ I still can’t believe we did it on our first try,” he now says.

Catching multiple marlin from the stern
While several anglers were hooked up on the bow, the same scene was repeated on the boat’s broad stern.Erik Landesfiend

To try to break the 189-release mark, Hsieh put together an eclectic group of primarily Southern California anglers from a variety of backgrounds and fishing interests, but all expert live-bait fishermen.

There were some logistical issues to consider when going for such a great number, the first of which was having enough live bait. The boat had the capacity to hold approximately 700 to 800 live mackerel, but each had to be caught by the anglers the previous night.

The next big hurdle was being able to have enough of the 50-pound-class rods ready to keep catching fish in an extended bite. When the bite got hot, we would have four participants assigned to rigging rods and two acting as roving leader men.

Despite all the planning, day one started out slow and by 9:30 a.m. not a single marlin had been seen. A few minutes later, the 92’s turbos spooled up and Lassley shouted from the bridge, “I’ve got a good one! Get up in the bow!” That good one was the start of an insane two hours of fishing that tested each angler’s casting ability and stamina. With marlin locked in on small bait balls, getting a bite usually required overhead casting from the third row over multiple hooked fish in the bow, but every perfect cast resulted in an instant bite on the circle hooks.

Bait boat replenishing live mackerel
After going through upwards of 800 live mackerel, the team lost two hours waiting for a boat with bait to replenish tanks.Erik Landesfiend

By 1:00 p.m. the boat was out of bait and the anglers had tallied 193 striped marlin releases. Luckily Captain Lassley had kept close tabs on the bait situation and had called ahead to the 144-foot Trinity that was already steaming south to restock our tanks. Two hours of prime fishing time were lost during the run inside to transfer bait, but the fish were still biting full speed upon our return.

A view from the bridge
Capt. Steve Lassley on the bridge.Erik Landesfiend

The 308-fish record fell at approximately 5:00 p.m. and when the last biting fish of that school had been released a few minutes later, the day’s final tally came to 330 fish. Remarkably, all of those fish were released during 6 ½ hours of fishing. Though everyone was too tired, and the tackle too beat up to take another shot at the record later in the trip, in four days we managed 900 striped marlin, three sail fish and a couple dorado. Definitely the trip of a lifetime for all aboard.