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Marlin (White) (Tetrapturus albidus)
White Marlin may be among the smaller billfish, but is still widely targeted as an excellent light tackle and fly fishing challenge.
The species is also one of the least sociable fish, most often seen swimming alone, rarely in pairs (for spawning purposes) and even more seldom in small schools (for feeding). Its outstanding speed and agility allow the White Marlin to easily catch up with the fastest prey, often eliminatinating the need for hurting or killing it with the bill.
White Marlin are usually found above the thermocline, in waters with the surface at above 71°F. They will most often be more than 100ft deep, but are known to feed at the surface and even come close to shore. They are migratory, but do not traverse entire oceans like their larger and stronger relatives do.
White Marlin can grow to a maximum of about 110'' and 180lbs. Average catches will be between 50 and 80'', with females typically being larger than males.
When & Where
This species is distributed throughout the Atlantic Ocean, up to 45°N and 35-45°S going from east to west. The north- and southmost extremes see these fish only during the warmest months.
The most popular White Marlin fishery in the US is along the East Coast from Cape Hatteras, NC up to Cape Cod, MA during the summer, with Ocean City, MD being recognized as the White Marlin capital of the world and holding the annual tournament. They can also be caught throughout Florida, in the Gulf Stream on the Atlantic side and off the Panhandle on the Gulf side.
Out-of-country hotspots include spawning grounds close to the Bahamas and Bermuda, which will also be the most active when the water is at its warmest. Islands in the Caribbean Sea also offer great White Marlin opportunities through the summer.
Image perfectly depicts the ecstatic feeling of landing a billfish. Caught off Destin, FL
How to catch
Fishing for White Marlin is very similar to Sailfishing, and these two species are regularly caught interchangeably on the same type of rig. As with other billfish, fast trolling of whole or strip bait such as ballyhoo, bonefish, mullet, mackerel, herring, anchovies or any similar local small fish or squid will be the most effective. Asides from natural bait, artificial options such as spoons, feathers, plastic lures or flies should work as well.
White Marlin require short to no "dropback", but it can still be used - this means setting the hook only after the weight of the fish dragging the bait has been felt once the approach has been spotted and the drag set. An interesting fact about the White Marlin is that persistence actually pays off, as they will often strike the bait again after an unsuccessful hit. Even dipping the rod tip into the water will sometimes get a reluctant fish to take the bait.
A thing to note when boating a White is that the fish can very well still be green, so extreme caution is advised when handling them.
If you're looking for more know-how on Marlin fishing, head over to our exhaustive guide to all Marlin species and angling techniques.
Good to eat?
Best smoked due to having tough meat, but can be eaten prepared in a number of different ways. However, should be avoided on account of containing high levels of mercury.
- Season - always open;
- Size limit - Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Mississippi - 66'' LJFL minimum; Texas - 86'' TL minimum; other states have no size regulations;
- Bag limit (per angler per day) - Florida - 1 billfish, North Carolina, California - 1; Georgia - catch and release only; Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas - no limit; other states have no bag regulations;
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