Relatively limited distribution keeps Black Marlin from being as popular as their Blue, White, and Striped cousins, but exceptional size, strength and leaping ability make them one of the more revered sport fish. They prefer tropical and subtropical waters, primarily within the Pacific and Indian Oceans, reaching the western Atlantic. Black Marlin follow seasonal warm waters east from Hawaii in summer, migrating by Mexico, Panama, then Costa Rica, and further around the African coast to Mauritius and Australia during winter months. The northwest Australian coast, along the Great Barrier Reef, has been glorified by many, including Zane Grey, to be the finest place in the world to catch a Black Marlin.
Silvery-white bellies beneath a dark blue dorsal side enhance the beauty of the Black Marlin, with black or dark blue accents on the first dorsal fin. Other fins have dark brown shades, including the rigid, pectoral fins which cannot be folded back against their bodies – unique for Marlin. This coloration becomes quite exaggerated with relative size, which is also quite often extremely impressive. Black Marlin grow to 15 feet in length, and regularly attain weights over 1000 pounds. Females generally grow much larger than males, which average 125-300 pounds. The world record for a Black Marlin is 1,560 pounds, caught off Cabo Blanco, Peru.
Black Marlin are most frequently found around islands, shorelines, and coral reefs, not far from the surface, and near deeper water. Mollusks, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are regular, tasty snacks, but Blacks prefer to prey on tuna, dolphin, bonita, and other fish, which they stun and kill with their bills. Blacks, like their Striped cousins, spawn in the Northern Pacific from May to August, and have been known to migrate thousands of miles – more testament to their strength and fortitude.
Following the warm tropical current through such vistas and environments as the Black Marlin prefers can be a relaxing, pleasant experience – that is, until you get hooked up. Instantly, you can say goodbye to peace and quiet. Even an average-sized Black Marlin will fight, leap, and respond with an acrobatic and exhausting battle. With any extra luck at all, a Black Marlin day will soon become a ‘banner day’.