Wife Bests Husband in Marlin Fishing Standoff

How about this big fish story: a married couple fishing aboard the 35' Bad Medicine in Cabo San Lucas spotted the dorsal fins of two striped marlin breaking the surface. Patricia and Edward Araujo of Chula Vista, California tossed baits to the pair of billfish, and within moments the husband and wife team found themselves hooked up to a pair of javelin-nosed jumpers greyhounding for the horizon.
The married duo strapped on their fighting belts and shouted with glee as the fishing line peeled off their reels in bursts. Patricia's fish headed west and Edward's went east, pinning the anglers in opposite corners of the boat. I grabbed my wide angle lens, raced to the bridge, and snapped away. As a fishing photographer and travel writer, I have plenty of stock fishing pictures, but photos of married couples hooked up at the same time to huge fish are hard to come by!
The Araujos are experienced anglers and spend a lot of time fishing in Baja, but they'd ever enjoyed a simultaneous double marlin hookup together. I couldn't decide what to photograph next!
I wanted to get jumping shots of their fish, but I also wanted to swim with the striped marlin, take underwater photographs, and then take photos from the water looking up at them and their fish. After some thought I decided to put my telephoto lens on and see if their fish wouldn't put on an aerial show closer to the boat. Fortunately they did!
As soon as I got these jumping shots, I readied my underwater camera gear and donned my mask and fins. I'm walking around the boat with the fins on getting in everyone's way and looking like a complete clown. Someone had to decide which spouse would reel their fish in first. Edward's fish was a bit closer so the Captain Bernabe "Bernie" Ruiz told him to bring his fish in. If everything went according to plan, I'd document the release of this fish from the water while Patricia continued the fight with her marlin.
In the meantime I snorkeled off the boat's stern and got shots of the two anglers hooked up.
Fortunately the plan unfolded smoothly and I was able to get some pretty awesome photos of Edward and his fish. The mate inserted the tag into the fish. 
If the fish is again caught, the capture and tag information will be reported to organizations like The Billfish Foundation, which can determine the length of travel between travel and marlin migration patterns, etc. The Billfish Foundation helps promote the conservation of marlin, sailfish, and related species worldwide.
Here is a cool shot of Edward and his fish while wife Patricia is battles her own marlin in the background:
Deckhand Alberto “Beto” CeseƱa released the first fish; now it was time for everyone to concentrate on Patricia, who fought along gamely as her fish dove for the bottom.
When the marlin resurfaced near me, it became evident that her fish was the bigger of the two. I gave it plenty of space until Beto grabbed hold of the leader, and then took some shots of her posing with her fish. Patricia backed off and the Beto took over. This was one big striped marlin!
The Marinero expertly insertied the tag into the fish and deftly sent it on its way. 

This wasn't the crew's first time at the rodeo; in fact, they'd won the 2011 Bisbee's Black and Blue Marlin Tournament. Sensing another cool photo op, I snapped away the entire time and got some neat shots of the entire marlin release sequence. I put together a composite that I will be using in future articles on the subject of how to release marlin. Here it is: (click to enlarge photo)
Ironically Patricia almost didn't make the trip; the couple had a wedding to attend the same night and she almost stayed home to get ready for the occasion. I know my wife would have. As it was, she only had a couple of hours between landing at Cabo San Lucas Marina and the start of the wedding. That's what I call a dedicated angler! Turns out that I have a lot in common with the couple; Patricia and I both teach elementary school in San Diego and our students might become online pen pals. On the way back Patricia filled out the Tag Report that Bad Medicine Sportfishing will send to The Billfish Foundation.
I use fishing and technology to engage my students so you can bet as soon as I get back in the classroom after winter break, I'll be telling the kids this cool fishing tale.
I have a marlin mount in my car right now and the day before school starts back up I'm going to put it up on the wall. When the students come in, we'll do the dramatic unveiling! It will lead to more fish science in our room. I'll be sharing our marlin and marine science work with The Billfish Foundation to aid in their billfish conservation efforts.
Stay tuned as I will be writing another article featuring other photos and stories from this trip to Cabo. Here's a preview:
If you liked this article, please click here to like my Facebook page.
I will be doing a free monthly photo giveaway raffle that is available to all those who have "liked" the page. If you scroll through my blog and website you'll see some of the neat images that might be raffled off. Three per month will be given away to randomly selected "likers" of my Facebook page.
Cheers and tight lines,
Jon Schwartz

This story was picked up by the San Diego Union Tribune!
Outdoors writer and SD Tribune columnist Ed Zieralski did a writeup and you can see it here San Diego Union Tribune: Couple has Marlin Adventure in Cabo San Lucas.


Giant Bonefish! Fishing Photos from my trip to Oahu, Hawaii

Here is a picture of a huge bonefish that I took in Oahu, Hawaii.
Oahu is what's called a "sleeper" spot for massive bonefish. There are plenty of big ones there.  I wrote an article about the trip in Saltwater Sportsman Magazine.
After witnessing the sheer number and size of enormous specimens, I asked my friend and guide Captain Mike Hennessy, "Mike, I don't get it. Why would anyone go anywhere else when they can fly to Honolulu and be in the flats stalking these monsters within site of Waikiki and Diamond Head?"
He explained that it's "varsity" fishery; the fish are incredibly hard to catch, and fly fishing enthusiasts that aren't on top of their techniques can get their hats handed to them by the largest fish. Fortunately the fish cooperated and I got a lot of great shots!
I have a new Facebook Page. If you click on this link and like Jon Schwartz Photography, Fishing, and Travel  you will be able to "Like" the page and soon I'll be giving away free prints every month to a couple of random fans.


Yacht Photography in Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur Mexico

Los Arcos in Cabo San Lucas is a great location for taking pictures and photos of sportfishing boats.
Today I was out shooting the 35' Cabo Yachts Sportfisher Bad Medicine. It's a super sweet boat and I will be fishing and taking photos with them for several days.

On the way back, a sea lion hopped up onto the back of the Bad Medicine and gave all of us a big laugh! Click on the photo to zoom in.
I finally figured out a way to do a free photo giveaway on my Facebook Page without getting in trouble with Facebook (I registered my FB page on a third party app that is FB approved) and soon all the people who are fans of the page will have a chance at a free monthly photo giveway. Yahoo!
Here are some photos I took of one of my favorite restaurants in Cabo. In the first shot the fellow is getting a tequila tour.

I will be posting photos and details about my Cabo vacation on this blog, and also on Jon Schwartz's Photography, Fishing, and Travel Facebook Page. You can become a fan of that page by clicking on the above link.
~Jon Schwartz


Which big fish are released and why: Marlin, Tuna, and Shark photos and facts

Ever wonder why sport fishing anglers keep some big fish and let others go?

It might simply be a matter of taste. Marlin are great fun to catch, but in my opinion they don't make for great table fare. They are sometimes prepared by smoking or grinding them up into meatballs called albondigas. The results can be decent, but then again, lots of people say frogs and and pigs feet are tasty, too. "If you cook 'em just right they're delicious!" Fortunately most sport fishing anglers are content to let marlin go.

I took the above photo of a blue marlin that was being released. Taken above or below the water, photos are a great way to celebrate one's catch. Taxidermy mounts are still popular. They're no longer made from dead fish, and this results in a lot less fish hanging at the docks for the sake of a picture. I had a fantastic life-sized plastic marlin mount made for me by one of the best taxidermy companies in the world, and they only wanted to know the species and approximate size. They had molds in different sizes made from fish that have been already been caught hanging up on their walls.  I kept telling them, "Look at the photo of MY marlin" and they said politely with a knowing smile, "Yup, that's a marlin alright!"

Having spent a fair amount of time swimming with marlin and examining the photos I take, I can attest to the fact that most marlin of the same species and size range look fairly similar (They probably say the same thing about us humans!) Once in a while you'll see one that's particularly portly or skinny or has a deformity, but for the most part, the accuracy of the mount will depend more on the quality of the artist than anything you might bring them.

I often travel to Hawaii and fish the Kona Coast. I know that a lot of local Hawaiians keep the marlin they catch, and to me, that's OK, because they are different than sport fishing anglers. They are not tourists with extra cash on hand, and they are not really fishing for sport. They live there, and these are the animals they have access to. They are fishing for marlin with hook and line, the hard way. Often they are doing it solo, without the help of a deckhand, using inexpensive gear. Marlin may be one of the few fresh meats they can afford, and they are usually fishing to feed their family. Providing for one's family is what people used to do before division of labor came along....before we paid other people to hunt, fish, and farm so we could chat with people we barely know on Facebook, watch TV, and eat Hot Cheetos.
Tuna, like the above big yellowfin (or ahi) that I photographed, are usually NOT released. They are simply too darn delicious! I love eating tuna, and I am careful about which kinds I eat. Some species of tuna, particularly bluefin, are being over-harvested by commercial fishing enterprises that go out on the ocean with huge ships, massive nets, and spotter aircraft. The fish don't have a chance. The people who are fishing with hook and line, a process that takes more effort and time and is less productive, can't compete with these monstrous fishing operations.

A famous and universally respected captain in Hawaii named Marlin Parker told me something that I thought was pretty interesting and agreeable. He thought it would be a good idea for people to get back to fishing with hook and line instead of using mass capture methods like bottom trawling, spotter aircraft, and floating fish processing factories. What do you think? Here is a photo of Marlin Parker releasing a blue marlin.

He is using a special tool that helps him remove the hook. He'll keep the boat in gear to keep water running over the fish's gills.  The fish's colors come back, the hook is removed, and once the marlin starts kicking it's tail, he let's it go and the angler gets to watch the fish swim off. It's a great feeling.

Check out my photo below of an angler hooked up to a 400 pound black marlin, with the mates leadering the fish to the boat so they can tag and release it. I took it at Tropic Star Lodge in Panama, which was named World's Top Fishing Resort by the Robb Report. This photo is now the opening image on Tropic Star Lodge's website.

Below is a picture of one of their deckhands inserting a tag into the shoulder of a black marlin near the dorsal fin. Once the mates tag the fish, it counts as a catch. The tag also contains a code; if the fish is caught again, the second angler can see how far it traveled and how long it has been free.
On that same trip to Tropic Star I took a picture of a marlin that ended up on the cover of Marlin Magazine. That was a great trip! Here is the cover shot:
On the subject of mates, deckhands, and photographs, let me tell you about a friend of mine named Joe Thrasher. "Kaiwi Joe" is a world-class deckhand and mate and is currently working with Captain Teddy Hoogs in Kona. Joe sometimes does the job of 3 people: he grabs the leader and pulls the marlin to the boat, pokes the marlin with the tagging stick with one hand, and takes photos with another. I will email him and see if he won't sent me a pic or short clip of him doing this. You won't believe it! Here is a picture of Joe Thrasher:
I know that giant bluefin tuna are in serious jeopardy. Currently, in some areas like possibly Nova Scotia, people are allowed to harvest a limited number of giant bluefin tuna. That seems to be a pretty smart way of letting people catch a safe amount of fish that are in need of protection. My friend Tim Simpson, the editor of Bluewater Boats and Sportfishing Magazine, was just in that area and released one that may have been over 1,000 pounds! Fish like that are worth a ton of money, and because they can't keep every fish they catch, the captains are very selective about the fish they do keep.

Years ago I read a book called Fish the Chair If You Dare written by Greg Beacher. It was a great read and it's still available on Amazon. If I remember correctly he was one of the pioneers of giant bluefin fishing on the East Coast of the USA in the 1970's. In the book, he showed pictures of giant bluefin laying on docks back about 50 or 60 years ago. Incredibly, back then people didn't view giant bluefin tuna as a delicacy, and they would sometimes leave their fish on the docks because they didn't want to bother with them. Now fish like that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Above is a photo I took in Hawaii of a Galapagos shark. Sharks are usually released by sport fishing anglers. In my opinion, most don't taste all that good, and some are downright nasty. I see mako shark and thresher shark in fish markets, and some people say they taste great. I haven't ever had mako and the little thresher I tasted was OK. The worldwide shark population is being decimated by shark finning. That's when people cut off the shark's fins to sell for shark fin soup and let the shark sink to the ocean floor. Sharks are vulnerable because they don't reproduce quickly, so personally I am not into eating or killing sharks. Recently I have heard of some shark-free marinas that don't allow sharks to be hung at the docks. Sounds like a good idea to me. To me, the release is the most exciting part of shark fishing.
Here's a picture I took of a Galapagos shark being released.
Sharks get a bad rap for being aggressive, but they actually bother very few people. On the rare occasion that they do bite someone, it interests people and the media makes money talking about it. If you do a Google search and compare shark bite stats and dog bite stats, you'll see what I mean.

There have been times when I didn't let marlin or sharks go. When I first started out shore fishing I kept some small sharks and ate them. I haven't kept a shark in maybe a decade and don't plan to again. One time I caught a 200 pound blue marlin on a kayak. After it towed me around for an hour, it dove down deep and died, and there was nothing I could do about it. I pulled it up by hand, gave most to the captain who lived in the Baja fishing village where I was staying, and I also took some home to try. I didn't care for it but I can understand why he eats it occasionally. That'd be like telling someone from Vermont or Wisconsin that they shouldn't harvest any local deer.

Catch and release fishing can be a lot of fun, and I have since learned that to promote a healthy release, it's a good idea to reduce the fighting time and use heavy enough tackle so the fish experiences less stress. In fact, if you are fishing for tuna and plan to eat them, a shorter fight time will result in a tastier fish.

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Thanks, Jon Schwartz


Swimming with Humboldt Squid: Photos and Pictures by Jon Schwartz

Swimming with giant schools of Humboldt Squid at night is creepy!
Saturday I drove to Newport to try free diving with the Humboldt Squid that have invaded Southern California. These strange sea creatures have been washing up on nearby beaches, and untold thousands continue to lurk in boiling masses just offshore.
Unlike the cigar-sized market squid that I encountered in June at La Jolla (click here to read that cool story), Humboldt Squid can be dangerous and I wondered if it was a good idea to get in the water with them at night. I've seen videos of them attacking divers, and in fact have spent a lot of time over the past decade seeking out every last bit of information about people that dive with Humboldts. The encounters are fascinating.
After calling several experts, I decided to give it a go. It turns out that this particular population of Humboldts was just the right size for me to investigate without having to worry about getting dragged down, body slammed, or chewed on. Actually they might chew on me a little bit.

The ones off Newport are about 2-3 feet long, and the biggest Humboldts can get 6 feet long and over 100 pounds. This might seem huge, but Humboldts as a species aren't even close to being the biggest squid in the ocean. Colossal Squid can get as big as a school bus, but they spend their time in the depths fighting off sperm whales in epic battles (or are those Giant Squid?) Here are two images I took off of Wikipedia. One shows a depiction of a sperm whale fighting a massive squid, and the other illustrates the relative sizes of Colossal and Giant Squids.
Sperm whales have been found on beaches covered with scars from the tentacles of massive squid, and their stomachs have been found to contain thousands of squid beaks.  Here's an old classic photo of a whale marred by squid tentacles.
Compared to these leviathans, the market squid I came across in La Jolla in June seem tiny. Here's one in my hand, and then a shot of them balled up in a school:
In any case, back to my more recent squid adventure. I guessed that unless the Humboldts in Newport ganged up on me, I'd be OK near the surface if I stayed close to the boat. These squid do have beaks that can take nasty bites, and their tentacles have sharp pointy things that rotate on them, but dogs can bite too, and I don't see people staying indoors on the off chance that they're going to get attacked by Fido. Maybe that's not the best analogy, but maybe you see my point. Compare the amount of people getting mauled by squids to the number mauled by dogs, and the result isn't even close.
Just after nightfall, we headed out. The bioluminescence from the red tide glowed a striking blue beneath our boat.
Finding the squid boats was easy; there was a flotilla lit up like a football stadium just outside of Newport Harbor, including open party boats stuffed to capacity with eager anglers, private yachts, and commercial squid boats that net them by the ton.
Here's some photos of a party boat:

Notice the anglers are wearing rain gear. This is to protect them against the squid that shoot geysers of ink and saltwater into the air. You can see them getting blasted!

I had hoped to find them schooling at the surface, but most of them lay at depths below 20 feet, which is just out of the range of my camera housing. I was able to see some in plain sight, and others remained invisible until they began blinking on and off like a strobe light. They can turn colors quickly, and I imagine they communicate with light. I jumped into the water, which was illuminated by the squid lights that the boats set below their boats.

This is what that water looks from below the surface:
As I was taking a picture of one that was hooked up to a fishing line, I was approached by a free swimming squid. This was what I had come for! My underwater equipment isn't really made for night photography so most of the time when I pressed the shutter, my strobe blinked spasmodically but my camera didn't take any pictures. I did get a precious few shots of this squid.  I'm not a squid expert but it seems to be an aggressive stance; check out how the tentacles are thrust forward at me. Was it waiting to strike, or was it merely checking me out? Someone who has dove with them referred to this as "attack mode" but again, I'm not a squidologist. I'd love to hear from some real experts as to what this stance means. If there are any out there please email me or add a comment to this blog.

I'll post more when I get a chance. I'm looking forward to a hands-on science lesson I plan to conduct with my first grade students. We'll use the one squid that I brought back from the adventure. I enjoy using fishing and marine science to engage my students in class and you can see an example of that here.
Below is a sample of our class work from today (9/29). It combines our work with temperature, reading, writing, science, and art. Fun stuff!
One of the neatest things about this Humboldt Squid encounter is that it marks the second time that I've been able to luck get neat photographs in an area close to my San Diego home. When I am not teaching school I often travel to locations like Hawaii, Mexico, and Panama for travel articles and big fish photos of game fish like marlin, sailfish, and tuna. 
Here are some photos from my recent trips: Kona Captain Teddy Hoogs, the Puerto Paraiso Mall in Cabo, and a striped marlin up close in the East Cape of Baja Mexico.
To see my travel, scenic, and fishing photo galleries, click here
To read my fishing and travel articles, click here
I used to catch and release marlin from kayaks and you can check that out here.

Photography Enthusiasts Take Note:
If you "Like" my Facebook Page Jon Schwartz Fishing, Photography, and Travel you might win a rare fine art print from my collection.

On October 10 I will randomly pick from 3 people who "Like" my Facebook page, and the winners will receive a FREE 16x20" gallery quality fine art print from my private stock! I sell these for 500.00 to private collectors so this is a neat opportunity.
Click here to see details.
Jon Schwartz