Big-game fishing’s most amazing grander catches
The first goal of any blue-water angler is to capture his first billfish. The next goal is to catch a bigger one, and then the biggest ever. Early on, Zane Gray raised the bar on what constitutes a big fish. He did it by catching the first thousand-pound marlin off Tahiti in 1931. The fish weighed 1,040 pounds after a shark took a 100-pound bite out of the base of the tail. It was a controversial catch, even beyond the shark bite. Nonetheless, the idea of any mortal man catching a grander was electrifying then, just as it is today.
Outside of Grey’s catch, the discovery in the late 1940s and early ’50s of Peru’s black marlin fishery was one of the most important, because until then, no one else had caught a grander. Dozens of enormous black marlin were taken during the ten years that fishery flourished, none bigger than the awesome 1,560-pounder by Alfred Glassell Jr. in 1953 off Cabo Blanco. The fish stands as the biggest black marlin ever weighed. However, by length and girth measurements, the 1,442-pounder caught by Mick Magrath in 1973 at Cairns, Australia, home of more 1,000-pound black marlin catches than any other place on Earth, outclasses Glassell’s fish.
The heaviest marlin of any species ever taken on rod and reel came from Hawaii. The late Capt. Cornelius Choy caught the mammoth great-grandmother of them all, an 1,805-pound blue marlin aboard his Coreen-C on June 10, 1971. The fish was 15’8″ in length with a girth of 8’1″. The anglers were Mike Wachtler, Pat Morello, Charles Lewis and Choy’s daughter, Gail. After weighing, they found a 100-pound tuna stuck in its throat.
In 1954, Mrs. Charles Hughes weighed a 1,525-pound black marlin off Cabo Blanco, Peru, to set the long-standing IGFA 130 class all-tackle record for heaviest marlin ever weighed by a woman.
Thousand-pound Atlantic blue marlin were unheard of until June 26, 1974, when Jack Harrington steamed out of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, with Capt. Harry Baum, hooking that ocean’s first giant blue: a 1,142-pounder.
The largest Atlantic blue marlin was landed in Feb. 29, 1992 by Paulo Amorim, weighing 1,402.2 pounds from Victoria, Brazil. It is the IGFA 130 class all-tackle record for a man.
Capt. George Parker caught the first 1,000-pound blue marlin in the Pacific Ocean on Nov. 13, 1954, while trolling five miles off Oahu on his boat, the Mona H. It weighed 1,002 pounds.
The largest Pacific blue marlin, an IGFA 130 class all-tackle record, was landed on May 31, 1982 by Jay de Beaubien, weighing 1,376.0 pounds. He was fishing in Kona aboard the No Problem with Capt. Bobby Brown.
The only angler to land a grander on standup tackle was Tracy Melton of California. Melton made the 1,083-pound catch on 80-pound tackle while fishing with Capt. Roddy Hays aboard the Margarita. Marsha Bierman is believed to be the only angler to have caught and released two 1,000-plus-pound marlin on 50-pound standup. They include an estimated 1,100-pound black marlin off Australia in 1992 and a Pacific blue marlin estimated at 1,200-pounds off Costa Rica in 1991.
The first angler to catch a grander solo was 67-year old Herman Huber of Grand Canary Island, who became the first fisherman in history to land a 1,000-plus pound marlin fishing alone. He fought his 1,023-pounder for six hours aboard a 22-foot boat after experiencing open-heart surgery only five months earlier.
Honorable mention: Kona’s Momi Bean, who at the age of 12, borrowed his dad’s 18-foot boat and headed offshore to a local FAD, where he hooked, fought and boated a 975-pound Pacific blue marlin with no outside assistance. Granted, the fish was 25 pounds shy of the grander mark, but given his age and the size of the boat, it still ranks as one of fishing’s greatest feats.
The lightest tackle grander ever caught was a 1,051-pound black marlin taken on 20-pound test by Peter Mahood in 1976 in Cairns, Australia. The youngest angler to catch a 1,000-plus-pound Atlantic blue marlin was Laurent Richard at age 15 with a 1,046-pounder.
The largest tournament caught grander was during the 2003 Tropidilla Firecracker Open Tournament out of Kona, Hawaii. Angler Miguel Koening weighed a 1,258.5-pound Pacific blue marlin while fishing aboard the On The Fly with Capt. John “Bomboy” Llanes.
The 1997 Lahaina Jackpot Tournament gained both state and international fame and recognition with double granders. Nowhere in the world had there been a pair of 1,100-pound marlin weighed on the same day.
The tournament winner was a 1,106.0-pound blue by Rodney Kam. He was fishing aboard the Magic with Capt. Russell Tanaka. The second place marlin weighed 1,101.5 pounds and was angled by Andrew Mau. He was fishing with Capt. Rahn Yamashita aboard Shirley-Y.