Stunning Photos of Giant Marlin and Tuna in the Azores

Nine volcanic islands comprise the Azores, one of two autonomous regions of Portugal (another big-marlin spot, Madeira, being the other). The scenic islands rise to more than 7,700 feet (Mount Pico). “During a short three-month season (July-September) and with relatively few boats, the small, picturesque and remote island Port of Horta in the Azores, provides some of the world’s finest blue marlin fishing,” says Capt. Les Gallagher with Oceanic Fishing, who has been fishing the Azores since 1987. His best season in the Azores totaled 112 blues; he has caught a 1,310-pound blue. Gallagher cites these waters as accounting for 25% of current blue marlin conventional-tackle world records and five granders since 2016. Gallagher is also an accomplished photographer, as these images of action from boats in the Azores Fishing fleet show.

Man with massive blue marlin
Massive blue marlin make their way to the Azores to gorge on the great aggregations of blue jacks and Atlantic chub mackerel that gather along the slopes around these islands.Capt. Les Gallagher

The Azores, about 850 miles west of Portugal, are considered an autonomous region of that country. A flight from Boston to the island of Sao Miguel is about five hours.

Reaching the fishing grounds isn’t generally an hours-long proposition: Here, <em>Xacara</em> hooks up a blue marlin on the north coast of Faial Island, one of the best fishing areas out of Horta and only a 25-minute run from the marina.
Reaching the fishing grounds isn’t generally an hours-long proposition: Here, Xacara hooks up a blue marlin on the north coast of Faial Island, one of the best fishing areas out of Horta and only a 25-minute run from the marina.Capt. Les Gallagher
The Azores Archipelago consists of nine islands; the area’s extensive banks and seamounts sit atop the midAtlantic Ridge.
The Azores Archipelago consists of nine islands; the area’s extensive banks and seamounts sit atop the midAtlantic Ridge.Fishpics


Second mate Graeme “Bonze” Fleet (from New Zealand’s Bonze Lures, bonzelures.co.nz) hangs onto a 500-pounder.
Second mate Graeme “Bonze” Fleet (from New Zealand’s Bonze Lures, bonzelures.co.nz) hangs onto a 500-pounder.Capt. Olaf Grimkowski
While monster marlin are the main stars of the show in these waters, anglers catch huge bluefin tuna as well, such as this one that anglers and crew work to pull through the tuna door on <em>Grander</em>.
While monster marlin are the main stars of the show in these waters, anglers catch huge bluefin tuna as well, such as this one that anglers and crew work to pull through the tuna door on Grander.Capt. Les Gallagher
The wireman works to retain his hold on a large marlin in the chop formed by currents passing over the Azores Bank.
The wireman works to retain his hold on a large marlin in the chop formed by currents passing over the Azores Bank.Capt. Les Gallagher
In calmer waters, backing down in pursuit of a behemoth off Faial Island, the mate waits, ready to make the wire.
In calmer waters, backing down in pursuit of a behemoth off Faial Island, the mate waits, ready to make the wire.Capt. Olaf Grimkowski
The Xacara team about to release a 550 on Condor Bank.
The Xacara team about to release a 550 on Condor Bank.Capt. Les Gallagher
Lots of fine-weather days characterize this fishery, as Brasilia trolls over the calm water.
Lots of fine-weather days characterize this fishery, as the Brasilia trolls over the calm water.Capt. Les Gallagher
Bluefin are only occasional visitors to the Azores, but when they do show up, schools of 600- to 1,200-pound fish may number in the hundreds. When they push big baits schools to the surface, the action can be surreal.
Bluefin are only occasional visitors to the Azores, but when they do show up, schools of 600- to 1,200-pound fish may number in the hundreds. When they push big baits schools to the surface, the action can be surreal.Capt. Les Gallagher
Snipefish (Macroamphosus scolopax) in numbers never seen here before have dominated the biomass landscape of the Azores during the last two years.
Snipefish (Macroramphosus scolopax) in numbers never seen here before have dominated the biomass seascape of the Azores during the last two years.Capt. Les Gallagher
A brace of Fronteira lures rigged and ready with 10/0 hooks.
A brace of Fronteira lures rigged and ready with 10/0 hooks.Capt. Les Gallagher
Gallagher says Ocean Fishing has mastered the technique of hooking marlin through the bill at the point where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw.
Gallagher says Oceanic Fishing has mastered a technique of hooking marlin through the bill at the point where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw.Capt. Les Gallagher
Pedro Alfonso, PhD, from the University of the Azores attached a pop-up satellite archival tag in a grander blue on the Condor Bank.
Pedro Alfonso, PhD, from the University of the Azores attached a pop-up satellite archival tag in a grander blue on the Condor Bank.Capt. Les Gallagher
Nola works on a 700 between Condor Bank and Faial Island.
Nola works on a 700 between Condor Bank and Faial Island.Capt. Les Gallagher
Anglers and crew wax ecstatic over a magnificent bigeye taken just south of Faial.
Anglers and crew wax ecstatic over a magnificent bigeye taken just south of Faial.Capt. Les Gallagher
Spearfish, like this brilliant-blue longbill taken on Condor Bank, are known for aggressively pursuing lures far too large for them but still getting hooked. White marlin and, on occasion, roundscale spearfish are among the smaller billfish taken incidentally in the Azores.
Spearfish, like this brilliant-blue longbill taken on Condor Bank, are known for aggressively pursuing lures far too large for them but still getting hooked. White marlin and, on occasion, roundscale spearfish are among the smaller billfish taken incidentally in the Azores.Capt. Les Gallagher
A 600 sulks in deep water for Nola off the north coast of Faial Island.
A 600 sulks in deep water for Nola off the north coast of Faial Island.Capt. Les Gallagher
The Habitat’s team carefully reviving and releasing a 650 of Faiail.
The Habitat’s team carefully reviving and releasing a 650 of Faial.Capt. Les Gallagher
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