BLUE MARLIN CAMPING TRIP – PART 1 by Russell Kleppinger


Every year as sailfish season wraps up and summer approaches boats from South Florida begin preparations to head to the Bahamas for the summer Blue Marlin season. These fish are the Holy Grail for sport fishers and people will spend tens of thousands of dollars per trip for the chance to catch a single fish. While they can reach nearly 2,000 pounds, the typical size fish in the waters of the Bahamas is in the 200 and 400 pound class. Since the western Bahamas is in close proximity to south Florida, it receives more fishing pressure. Having the opportunity to Captain the “Cyclops” a 50ft Hatteras, I chose to venture further south in hopes of having the best chance of tangling with these beasts.

I left Miami and cruised at 10 knots for the first 400 miles down to Long Island. Although extremely boring, I was able to save $4,800 in fuel over our normal cruising speed. My first mate for the trip was Max who fished the Bahamas with me the past two summers and has seen 54 Blues. The second mate was Johnnie, a greenhorn with only sailfish experience who was very excited to come. I pull into the marina at long Island it’s packed with boats. What was going on? I just went 400 miles to get away from all the people. Later I was told there was an article in Marlin magazine about the fishing around Long and sure enough everyone showed up. Note: “Please forget and or burn this after reading” LOL.

The boss Taylor flew in a day later and was happy we were able to save nearly five grand in fuel running slow. After a quick lunch I took he and his girl Lori out for a half day of fishing near the marina. One hour into it, a small Blue slid in up on the teaser and gave a half hearted crack at it. Then she went back and did the same to the long rigger but never came tight. Thirty minutes later another small blue about 150lbs did the same but this time we were hooked up. When that fish jumped so did Johnnie and I think he nearly hit his head on the bridge deck! After a short 15 min fight on 30 lb test, we released the first Marlin of the trip! I looked over at Johnnie and said: “what do think”? He talks a little slow, rarely says much, and emphasizes the last word in every sentence like Forest Gump, but with a grin from ear to ear he responded: “the coolest thing everrrrrrr”!





The next morning we headed south to explore the out islands. Fishing our way down we won’t touch land for the next five days. Weather sucked the first two days with rain and rough seas. We had a few window shoppers, including one Blue over 700 lbs, but the low barometer made the fish lethargic. The next day, the sun broke out and so did the BITE! We raised 9 Blue Marlin and by the fifth bite I started talking like Johnnie. Fishing hard all day we released the last Blue in the dark with the spreader lights on. The last day we were only able to fish in the morning because the boss had to catch a flight back in the afternoon. The fishing remained strong and we quickly released two more blues. Then, a big Blue snuck up in the glare and inhaled the bridge teaser. I grabbed the line and pulled as she swam away dumping line! When it got to the end I took a wrap on the 400 lb test and held on for dear life. The outrigger started to make a groan and the 400lb leader was severed off in the corner of her jaw. With my favorite teaser gone and a mono burned hand we headed in. The boss will be back in a week and so will part two of the trip. Tight Lines