Fishing for Marlin in Panama

I am having a grand time here at Tropic Star Lodge in Panama. The setting here is incredible, and the fishing is fantastic. It's a fishing resort deep in the heart of the Darien Jungle in Panama, 100 miles from the nearest paved road- or maybe any road for that matter.

I wrote an article about this place for Sport Fishing Magazine after my first visit here, which you can read here Fishing and Travel Articles by Jon Schwartz
I came here to witness 'His Majesty the Black Marlin' jump within meters of the boat. They get huge here, and they hit big trolled baits about 10 minutes offshore, depending on the season. When I say big baits, I mean BIG. Here's a mate holding a live bonito bait just before he bridles it to a huge circle hook and tosses it overboard to entice a bite from a monster:

The marlin are pretty thick here right now- good numbers of them. The bite usually happens first thing. First baits in the water get bit. As soon as the reel starts screaming they back the boat down at warp speed and the fish launch themselves all over the place. The fights are full-on adrenalin rushes. It's hard to get good photos because the boat is backing down so hard to catch up with the fish and there is water coming over the transom.

Although the fish get huge, the Humboldt current here, according to several staff, make for an oxygen-poor environment at deeper depths. Instead of heading for the deep like they do in many other locations, the fish tend to stay near the surface. For that reason, they are able to use much lighter tackle- 50 pound rods and reels versus 80 and 130 pound gear that is used in many other big marlin locations- so the interaction with the fish is much more intimate. Smaller boats lower to the water with lighter tackle like they have here make for front row seats to big fish mayhem!
Last year, the first day on my first visit to Tropic Star Lodge, I lucked out with a photo that made it onto the cover of Marlin Magazine.
I kind of had a feeling that after having such luck on my last trip, I would have to do some dues-paying this trip, and my feelings were right. Although the fishing here turned out to be much hotter than last year, I did a lot of zigging when I should have been zagging. I accompanied one couple who caught 8 marlin here in six days ( I think 5 blacks averaging 400 pounds and 3 blues averaging 300), but their best luck occurred on days when I was on other boats.
This all started to mess with my head; I started to think I was bad luck, and went looking for all sorts of things that may have resulted in the hex. Could it be my white socks? I tried wearing the same shirt for 4 days, stuff like that.
Catching fish is hard, but catching a photo of a jumping fish is many times harder. Not only do I have to be on the right boat that is experiencing the action, but the fish has to jump, the lighting has to be right, I have to maintain my balance in the midst of a lot of action, my camera settings have to be spot on, and my gear has to be functioning perfectly. The below shot is one of me posing. In the heat of the battle it's all I can do to stand up straight, and you'd never find me sitting down.

Anyway, as soon as we got here, they had some children from the small village across the bay come and do some folk dancing. It was awesome! It made me realize I should have brought my kids ( I have three girls). My kids are bilingual, and my wife is from a similar-sized town in Mexico; they would have become best buddies with these kids right off the bat.

I took some neat pictures of them, with them, and then made a CD for their parents so they can get them printed the next time they travel to Panama City. For most, if not all, of the parents and children, these are the first photos that have ever been taken of them!  You should have seen the look on their faces when I downloaded the shots and showed them to them on my laptop. They are such dolls. Que bonita!

I was super stoked to hang out with them too, but don't show my wife these pics of my new Panamanian beauties!

I talked with their teacher, and it turns out that that her husband is the head of the school at the village. I want to go visit the village tomorrow and hang out with the kids and their parents. Many of them work here at the resort. It's a special feeling, you meet the kids, and then go out on boats manned by their fathers. The personal aspect of it makes it just that much more exciting to me, because I am also a 3rd grade school teacher.

I am already thinking that the coolest thing to do would be to maintain contact with these kids and the teachers and their parents, and have them be pen pals with my own students in San Diego. They are all about the same age. I'll be able to speak with them as I can get by in Spanish, and my wife and daughters can help out with anything I can't handle. It would be terrific if I was able to combine teaching with my sportfishing photography and travel writing and involve my students as well as my own family!!!

I was fishing with Richard and Edie Kearley for several days as well. They were very fun to hang out with. Here is a photo I took of Edie on the way out to the fishing grounds.

And here's a photo of Richard 'going great guns' on a 60 pound tuna:

Below is a shot of Richard with a tasty dorado.There's so many dorado here, they are like pests. Pretty funny considering that these same fish would make for trophy fish on many other fishing excursions.
They ended up landing 8 marlin in 6 days of fishing, but almost all of them were landed on days that I wasn't with them. One day they had 4 black marlin! Of course I wasn't with them that day. Arrgh!!
I also accompanied famous fly fishing angler and multiple world record holder Margo Vincent and her grandson Kyle Vincent.

Kyle set a (pending) new world record for mullet snapper at 24 lbs! You can bet his grandma was super proud of him! Everyone kept telling him, "You realize you have the coolest grandma in the world, don't you?"

He also landed a 375 pound blue  marlin earlier in the same day. Here's him fighting the big blue as Margo looks on from the bridge:

Pretty amazing for a 12 year old, no?!
Both Richard and Kyle kept Dockmaster Albert Battoo busy recording their various achievements. With his first black marlin in day one, Richard his Royal Grand Slam: catching one of every type of billfish in the world!
The funny thing is that the most elusive billfish, the spearfish, was actually the first one that he landed like 30 years ago. I took particular interest in this because I wrote a 2500 word feature article about spearfish that will be featured in the February issue of Marlin Magazine, which should be on newsstands in about 3 weeks.
Here's Richard having his Royal Grand Slam recorded by Albert Battoo.

And here is Albert, one day later, making the sign for Kyle Vincent's pending world record 24 pound mullet snapper.

In addition to taking fishing related photos, I enjoy portrait, scenic, and architectural photography. I took a photo of the spa area and got this neat shot of Marisol the masseuse working with a client:
In addition to taking fishing related photos, I enjoy portrait, scenic, and architectural photography. I took a photo of the spa area and got this neat shot of Marisol the masseuse working with a client:

Finally I ended my week's stay with a visit to the nearby village of Pinas.
I wanted to check out the computer lab that is being set up and meet up with some of the folks I met last year there. 

Jose ( pictured on the right) works with Tropic Star and also lives in the village. He introduced me to the teacher of the school (on the left) and they showed me the lab. It'll be cool when it's up and running in the next couple of months so I can communicate with my friends down there!

On the way out of Pinas I met up with one of the mates of the boats that I had been on over my week's stay. His name is Alexi. He is Margo Vincent's favorite mate and is probably going to end up as a captain at some point.
He also happens to be super friendly and he introduced me to his children when I walked by the house. It's funny to see these guys chase around monster fish all day, every day, and then see them relaxing at home. What seems like extreme angling to many is for them another day on the water. They've undoubtedly wired and released thousands of huge marlin, perhaps as much or more than anyone in the world. (FYI "wired" means grabbed onto the leader, brought the fish to the boat, and removed the hook). Thrill seeking anglers from all over the world travel to Pinas Bay to take part in a ritual that these fellows perform as a matter of course. Here's marlin whisperer Alexi with children:

Last year, I took a lot of scenic and architectural shots when I was at the lodge. It turns out that some of my photographs will be included in the soon to be released book by Guy Harvey called  Panama Paradise: A Tribute to Tropic Star Lodge.

The book has 334 pages, and in it, Guy Chronicles the beginnings of the lodge in 1961 to the present day. Needless to say I am thrilled and flattered to have my work featured in Guy Harvey's book!

I am writing an article about Panama for the World Billfish Series Magazine. The editor of the publication Sam White suggested that I might like to get some scenic shots of Panama City, so I hired Panama's best guide, Luis Singh, to take me on a tour of the city. I went with him last year but needed to get more material. I desperately wanted to get good night shots taken from on high that showed the city's skyline, but after touring the city with Luis, I began to think I might strike out.
Most of the skyscrapers in the city- and there are a lot of them-are closed to the public. They are the homes of the ultra wealthy. Not sure if you know but Panama has a lot of new development and new buildings.

Trump Towers type of stuff, but even richer, and a new John's Hopkins Hospital branch, a bustling modern business sector, and tons of high-cotton shopping malls that feature stores like Rolex, Gucci, and all the rest.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts at getting a good vantage point for a shot, I decided to get crafty. Luis let me off in front of a popular tourist spot, and suggested I try to find the best spot I could on foot. I talked my way into the lobby of a posh 51 floor condo high rise, and the bellman let me onto the exercise room on the deck of the 15th floor. I was so excited! He left me there alone, though, and the room was so hot, I ventured out into the hallway to cool off.
A couple walked by and we started talking. The next thing I knew they were asking me if I wanted to go up and take pictures from the penthouse on the 51st floor!!! The bellman came back to keep an eye on me and sees me with my new friends, so I say, "These kind folks are gonna take me up to the penthouse!" All he could do was smile.

I had with me my Nikon D700's and several of my favorite lenses, and I got some AWESOME shots that I will post and include in that article for the Would Billfish Series magazine. I was so happy to be up there by myself, I was simply ecstatic! I completely lost track of time, and when I returned to Luis's car two hours later he said in a panic, "What happened to you??"

I proudly pointed to the tallest building in the sky and said, "You see that one? I was on the penthouse taking pics of the city!!!!" We had a laugh about that and his eyes bugged out when I showed him the shots. Yahoo!!!


Albino Sailfish Caught by Angler Fishing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!

Article by Jon Schwartz, http://www.bluewaterjon.com/

Sailfish are one of about 9 species of fish known as "billfish". All billfish have long pointy bills at the tip of their nose. Sailfish aren't as big as some of their cousins, like the broadbill swordfish or blue and black marlins that can weigh over 1000 pounds, but they make up for it in looks and acrobatic leaps.

The Spanish term for them is Pez Vella: beautiful fish. Their fanlike dorsal fins make them instantly recognizable, and when they're excited, they flash iridescent mixes of magenta, red, yellow, and aqua hues.

 At other times, they assume dark tones, allowing them to sneak up on prey.

That's what makes the one that Matt Dye just caught off Cabo San Lucas so incredible. On Saturday, Nov. 28, Dye landed a ghostly white albino sailfish, which may be truly one of the rarest billfish catches in the world. And yes, the eyes were reddish pink! This fish must have stuck out like a sore thumb in the ocean!How on earth a fish of this size, with no ability to blend in, managed to survive in the wild remains a mystery for the moment; marine scientists will no doubt start chiming in with theories and insight in the coming weeks.

Matt, who hails from Alexandria Virginia, came down to Cabo to visit with Bob Gist, his wife Sharon, and Linda Daniels. Though they've all known each other for over 20 years, they see each other only occasionally, and decided to vacation at a Cabo time share owned by one in the group.

They contacted Tracy Ehrenberg, owner of Pisces Sportfishing Fleet, and indicated that they'd like to charter a luxury yacht for fishing. Tracy put them on the Get Over It, a 54-foot Bertram captained by Jobe Villavicencio, with brother Javier working as the mate. Jobe has become one of Cabo's most sought after captains, known for such feats as catching and releasing 197 striped marlin in one day in 2008, and in fact, the two are current World Offshore Champions.

Though most of the boats had been heading north of Cabo's marina to load up on dorado (aka mahi-mahi), Bob suggested that they try for marlin and head straight out to the "6000 line", where the depth reaches, uh, 6000 feet. Evidently, that's about 15 miles out. Just before they reached the area, they saw what they thought was a marlin free jumping, so they ran the boat over to the fish and threw out a live bait to the fish on 30-pound tackle.

The fish took the bait, a battle between angler and fish ensued, and eventually Matt brought the fish to the boat. What began to appear from the depths shocked everyone aboard. Bob Gist watched the strange sea creature emerge with astonishment. "When it was coming up, it just looked...weird..and I was like, where the h-ll is the color?!... and it kept coming and then I thought it was a shark! And then I said, it's a billfish!...and it's a sailfish! and I was like, sH#@!"

"It almost looked skeletonly from a color, and it was just all white, the tail was more so than the bill, and it was incredible!"

I asked Bob what the crew’s reaction was like. "They were flipping out because they've never seen anything like that in their lives, and they started looking at the eyes, and the eyes were red and pink, and they started hollering out albino, albino, and then they called into the marina, and that's when we learned that it was a special thing.”

What actually happened was that Captain Jobe had called Tracy and told her that they had landed the bizarre fish, and they wanted Tracy's advice on what to do with it. Pisces has earned a reputation as one of the most conservation minded charter operations in the industry, and is a strong proponent of the catch and release of billfish. For her, the decision to release the fish would usually be a no-brainer, and they would have usually left the fish in the water, but since the fish was so unusual, the crew thought they had better ask Tracy and take some pictures.

Tracy Ehrenberg at her office overlooking the Cabo Marina

Tracy has even been training her crews to learn how to obtain scientific samples that are given to several trusted marine scientists she knows. She's one of many that feel that Cabo may in fact be a breeding ground for billfish. If this theory can be proven to the government- if enough billfish larvae are collected while skimming the surface for plankton- the area will be closed to commercial fishing, and billfish stocks will be safeguarded from longliners. This is her ultimate goal.

Ehrenberg said that although she knew the scientists might be able to obtain valuable data from this one unusual fish, she also wanted to honor the client's wish. Matt knew that if he wanted to get a mount made of his amazing catch, he didn’t need to kill it. These days, taxidermists make replicas better than ever before, based only on a photo of the catch. Matt was committed to letting the fish go, but now they had a problem: after the fish was brought aboard for a photo, it was exhausted, and releasing it in good health proved to be difficult.

Matt Dye being interviewed by Jon Schwartz after Matt's incredible catch

The fish wasn't able to swim off by itself after placing it back in the water, and Matt and his friends became worried it might not make it. The anglers and crew got so caught up in the revival effort that they came up with a most unusual plan: mate Javier volunteered to be held over the transom by his feet so he could hold the fish’s head underwater, and his brother, captain Jobe, would slowly move the boat through the water to run fresh water over the fish’s gills. Incredibly, the plan worked! The fish regained it's strength and kicked off by itself, and everyone aboard cheered with relief.

Matt Dye should be given a big hand for making the decision to release the fish, and the crew of the Get Over It should be commended for their valiant efforts. Well done!!!

Interestingly, The Billfish Foundation (TBF),  a nonprofit organization founded to promote the health of billfish stocks worldwide, has actually come up with a helpful set of guidelines that are geared towards educating us anglers on releasing fish in a manner that puts the least amount of stress on the fish. They recommend that the billfish be left in the water at all times. Several publications and websites have written articles on how to properly release billfish, and as I come across them I will post them here. In the meantime, if you know of one, please contact me throught my website, listed above.

Personally, I have seen several methods employed that seem to work really well. Different methods work for different sizes of fish, types of line, sizes and types of hook, and so on. There's the school of thought that it's better to leave the hook in the fish (this also depends on where the fish is hooked). Sometimes the anglers will use light line and when the fish gets close to the boat, the mate will simply yank the line tight very quickly, causing it to snap at the knot on the hook. The fish usually simply swims away without even ever touching the boat. This was used about 50% of the time that I accompanied Pisces fishing charters.

At other times, I have seen mates leader the fish to the side of the boat, grab the bill, and remove the hook. With larger fish the captain will often come over and remove the hook with an ARC Dehooker, a device made specifically for the safe and effective removal of hooks in fish. I spent a month in Kona watching some of the world's best captains like Marlin Parker and Gene Vanderhoek catch and release 600 pound blue marlin without barely blinking an eye, it seemed, and both fellows and their mates made used dehooker tools to great effect.

In Guatemala, they seem to have the greatest sailfish numbers on earth. When I was there last year in December, they were releasing 30 plus sails per day, per boat. No joke! Check my website for the article I wrote on it in the "Articles" section. There, what they do is they have a long stick with a line-cutting tool attached to the end of it. They use very thin wire circle hooks, similar to the ones the Pisces Fleet uses, and when the fish gets close to the boat, the mate grabs the leader and cuts it right at the knot where the hook is in one deft motion.

As a sport fishing photographer and writer who shoots above and below the water, my own observations have led me to conclude that there are a great many mthods that are successful in promoting healthy billfish releases. I actually took this next photo aboard the Rebecca, another member of the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet. It shows one of the clients, Dan Ryan, releasing one of the 4 striped marlin that was landed that day. When the fish are calm enough and the situation is right, sometimes the anglers can even join in the fun!

Of course, usually the mate is the one handling the fish at this point, but Dan has been coming back to Cabo for many years and befriended the captains and crews at Pisces to the point where he likes to take over as second mate. In fact, he had dinner for two nights in a row at Captain J.R's house, but that's another story..!


Fishing for Marlin and Dorado in Cabo

Lots of tailing striped marlin! The first three days of my trip I accompanied a very experienced angler named Gerald Richmond, a member of the IGFA and TBF (Billfish Foundation). We were on he 31 foot Rebecca, one of many fishing boats in the Pisces Sportfishing Fleet.
He's been fishing with them for 15 years as a client, and has caught over 500 marlin in his 79 plus years! Gerry baited up 16 and caught two on our first day. We went about 18 miles north of Cabo, maybe a bit more than halfway to Golden Gate Bank where the striped marlin bite went crazy the past 4-5 years. The fish were no more than 3 miles from shore.

The bait was goggle eyes/caballitos and Jerry used spinning tackle to sight cast to them as they swam around in full view, so it was quite exciting. Once they saw the bait, they either sank down or lit up like a Christmas tree and bit.
On board was his fiance Claire who is 73, another experienced angler. Both hail from Islamorada, Florida.
The dorado bit is close to wide open, with bulls averaging 15-20 pounds, caught on jig strikes and bait. Of course all marlin are being released! When you see a red flag with a white "T" on it that means the fish was released, so on this particular set of flags you see two marlin flags ( blue), two release flags, and a dorado flag. Jerry actually released most of his dorado too, but kept a couple for us to eat back at the Marine.
There are many restaurants like"Captain Tony's" right next to Pisces Sportfishing on the marina that will cook your catch. Quick fact- did you know that the marina here in Cabo is one of the most expensive and luxurious in the world?

Here's a shot of Land's End that I took on the way back. This is the spot at the very tip of Baja where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez. A most beautiful spot, this pic actually doesn't do it justice, it was taken on the fly..

I have been staying at some wonderful hotels. After 3 nights at Casa Dorada (see previous post) I found myself at the luxurious Marquis Los Cabos Hotel and Resort
The place is amazing! Here are a couple of quick pictures I took. As soon as I was taken to my room overlooking the Pacific I whipped out my camera because the from my balcony was equisite. Hopefully I captured some of the beauty in this photo (click to enlarge)

I took some other ones, and have plenty more I will be sharing. As much as I love fishing and underwater photography, I love photographing architecture and scenery. Resorts like this give one plenty of opportunities to take nice photos. Below is one of their restaurants. If you can believe it, it's the least fancy of the two they have!!

And then a few shots I took by the pool:


Cabo San Lucas

I just got into Cabo San Lucas yesterday, and checked into the Casa Dorada Hotel. It's all new and quite beautiful. The weather here is about 78 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. I'm overlooking Los Arcos, where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez, and I feel like I could swim there I'm so close!
After taking a nap, I enjoyed some delicious gourmet Mexican cuisine and then took some night shots by the hotel pool that sits right on top of Medano beach. Here's one of my photos (click on photo to see the whole image):


New Cover Shot: Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing Magazine

Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing Magazine is a highly acclaimed publication based in Australia that focuses exclusively on big game fishing. The magazine has garnered much praise from top anglers, readers, sport fishing professionals, and fishing enthusiasts. I feel very fortunate that editor Tim Simpson chose a photo I took for the November 2009 issue.  Here is the shot:

I took it while I was doing a travel story on fishing for sailfish in Guatemala. The fishing was incredible, and the resort that I stayed at, Casa Vieja Lodge , was top notch in every way.  These types of shots require that I put my camera in a custom underwater housing, go for a swim, and shoot up at the angler and fish. The fish was released in good shape, as evidenced by the incredible colors.

Many anglers and captains wisely strive to bring billfish to the side of the boat rapidly for a quick release, which reduces stress on the fish. If they've been played to exhaustion- something anglers should avoid-their colors fade to a dark, somber hue. Judging by the colors on this one, it must have been pretty darn healthy! When I get in the water I try not to take pictures at the expense of the fish. To that end I only get in when the fish is calm, but still healthy. If these conditions are not met, I don't do it.

Over the years I've learned that billfish should not be brought aboard for the sake of a picture. The Billfish Foundation has done a great job of educating anglers about this important fact and a visit to their website might explain the how's and why's of proper billfish release techniques. If I am not mistaken, it's illegal in some countries to bring billfish aboard for a photo, as may already be the case with other fish like tarpon in Florida. Don't quote me here though, that's not my field of expertise!

Back to the photo: I remember getting back on board, toweling off, checking this image in the viewfinder, and then almost hitting the roof because I was so happy. Getting a good photo of a billfish release is hard enough, but getting one while treading water in the ocean increases the factor of difficulty many times over. If even one drop gets on the housing's exterior surface, the shot can be ruined. Even worse, housings can leak and flood, turning a $6000 camera and lens setup and the accompanying $3500 housing into an expensive doorstop in a matter of seconds!!


Amazing Fishing News: Marlin Travels 2225 Miles in 94 Days!

Tagged Marlin's Incredible Journey Wows Scientists and Fishermen
Text and Photos © Jon Schwartz http://www.bluewaterjon.com/

Sport fishing for marlin has changed in big ways over the past 50 years. In the old days, many anglers brought their catch back to the dock, simply to pose with it for a photo. These days, thankfully, most sporting anglers let their marlin go. Some take it a step further: they invite scientists to study the fish they release through advanced remote satellite technology. The studies are leading to some incredible findings- like this week’s discovery that one marlin caught in Hawaii traveled 2,225 nautical miles in only 94 days!

How do we know this? Marine biologists affiliated with Stanford University recently teamed up with anglers from the 50th annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament (HIBT) that took place on the Big Island of Hawaii in July.

I covered the HIBT this year as a writer and photographer and witnessed some of the finest fishing the Kona Coast has seen in years. Over a 5-day period, tournament anglers caught 105 marlin, releasing 97. Eight of these 97 were outfitted with special satellite tags, and were thus entered into The Great Marlin Race.

When a marlin was brought to the boat, Stanford’s Dr. Randy Kochevar told me, “A surgical steel dart was inserted into fish. A mono leader comes out and wraps around a metal pin on the tag, and that pin is made of a corrosive metal. Then the fish is released. Exactly 180 days later, an electric current passes through the pin, which corrodes within minutes, weakened by a chemical reaction with the sea.” Then the bulbous tag pops off the fish, floats to the surface, and sends a signal to an orbiting satellite relaying its location, accurate to within 10 meters!

Although I spent all 5 days on the press boat and photographed multiple instances of anglers tagging fish, it wasn’t until I interviewed Kochevar over the phone that I realized I personally had witnessed these special sat tags being inserted. I scoured through my photos, and sure enough, found that I got some great pics of a marlin jumping at the transom of the Long Ranger,  which was then brought alongside the boat for a special tag! (see above photo)

Once I found that I had these shots, the whole process intrigued me that much more. By a great stroke of luck, these weren’t the only rare photos I got during the tournament. During the first ten minutes, I managed to get some great photos of a marlin jumping behind a boat as I hovered overhead in a helicopter!

Kochevar told me that the tag records data every 30 seconds for the 180-day period, including information on available light, depth, and temperature. This data tells him where the fish has been, how far it’s been diving, and how long it stays at these depths; exactly the type of information on marlin that is lacking in our current knowledge base.

Angling teams that purchased and sponsored the tags stay in touch with The Great Marlin Race scientists through their website, http://www.greatmarlinrace.org/ . Kochevar notifies the anglers when their tag pops up. Once all of the tags have surfaced, the one that has traveled the farthest distance from the point of insertion (in this case, the HIBT’s Kona Coast) wins the competition and a free entry into next year’s tournament.

Anyway, I was talking again with Kochevar this week, and he said, “Jon, you heard the incredible news, right?”
“Uh, no, Randy, but tell me!”
“A sat tag that we deployed on a marlin at the HIBT 94 days ago just popped up and started sending data to us via satellite. It traveled all the way down by the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, a distance of 2,225 nautical miles from where we tagged it!” My self-centered response was “Was it the one I got photos of?”

Kochevar laughed. “No Jon, I’m afraid it wasn’t!” He then proceeded to fill me in on the details, which will continue to unfold as the tag relays data to the team over the next ten-day period.  Below is a picture of the people who sponsored the sat tag, Sally and Bob Kurz, with Ph. D student George Shillinger (left) and  Dr. Kochevar ( right).

You can see the tag and the special poles it came with. Bob was the one who actually tagged the fish after it was caught by Tan Chin on board the Au'Kalani on Day 3 of the HIBT. Bob and Tan's efforts, and the incredible journey of their marlin, puts their Laguna Billfish Club in first place. Given that the other marlin still have 80 days to keep on trucking, I wonder if another tagged marlin will travel even farther?

Since Kochevar is the expert on the project, I’m going to pass the ball back over to him and encourage the curious to visit http://www.greatmarlinrace.org/.  He can answer detailed questions, and the site has lots more info on the Great Marlin Race. I’ll be checking in regularly to see all that the tag can tell us about the fish’s journey.

My big question is, why did it pop off early? Could the marlin have been eaten by a shark?

My second question is, am I the only person who wants to charter a plane to the Marquesas and see if we can’t locate the tag floating on the surface? I hear there’s a reward for recovering the device, and if the marlin was in such a hurry to get there, it must be pretty good fishing, too! I'm all up for going to the Marquesas in French Polynesia for my next adventure! Anyone else in?

I'm picturing that at some point the psat tag will wash ashore on a deserted island with one sole survivor and the poor soul will start screaming into it, expecting a rescue team to show up!
 -Jon Schwartz: Fishing Articles, Photography, & Travel: http://www.bluewaterjon.com/