All about the striped marlin
The striped marlin is a beautiful fish with distinctive blue bands across its body, slender bill, and a lighter shade of blue which sets it apart from its cousin, the blue marlin. Although it is smaller compared to other marlin species, it can grow up to 12 feet; weigh more than 450 pounds; and live up to 20 years. It is called by a string of other names including striper, stripey, barred marlin, striped swordfish, spikefish, nairagi, a‘u, and makijki.
What makes this fish more interesting is its ability to change colors in different situations. When it gets excited, particularly during hunting, feeding, or pursuing a mate, the stripes on its body may change from the usual blue to a phosphorescent blue or sometimes lavender. When it dies, prominent streaks appear along the sides of its body.
They are found in tropical and warm waters in the Indian and Pacific oceans but embark on seasonal migrations; traveling to the equator during winter and away at summer.
Known as opportunistic feeders, they often feed on sardines, mackerel, anchovies, squid, small crustaceans, and whatever is abundant. It uses its large bill to stun its prey by darting through schools of swimmers repeatedly and then feasting on the knocked out individuals.
Anglers from different parts of the world visit Cabo San Lucas where this prized sports fish is available year-round with a high season from November to June. Hook-ups for this species usually slow down from July to October.
Catching a striped marlin
The most common way of catching these stripers is by slow-trolling live baits such as mackerel and caballito or a variety of dead baits. It is advisable to use a medium weight conventional setup if you prefer to keep the fight short but rewarding and end up with a healthy release. Another option is using a spread of 6 to 10-inch skirted trolling lures on the outriggers and flat lines and placing a split-tail mackerel on the shotgun line.
The striped marlin likes to spend time on the surface to feed or get a dose of sunshine that’s why sight-angling is also a good technique when targeting this species. Our Cabo fishing boats have towers which are perfect for spotting this kind of big game. So when you detect its dorsal fin or bill cutting through the water, be ready to cast bait as quickly as possible to entice it to bite. For cast baiting, it is recommended to spool 30-pound-class reels with 50-pound-mono and 100-pound-test leaders. You can use circle hooks ranging from 7/0 to 9/0, depending on the size of bait that you have. The hook catches the target in the corner of the mouth rather than in the gut which promotes safer releases.
This species has a reputation for giving anglers a good battle and making numerous leaps in the air when hooked so brace yourself for an adrenaline rush. You may need the support of a harness for 100 to 200-pounders but a fighting chair will give you stability when battling 300-pounders or more. When you finally outpower your opponent and bring it at the side of the boat, you can ask a fellow angler or member of the crew to take some quick shots before letting it go.
Catching one is exhilarating but releasing it back in the sea can give you a deeper sense of satisfaction. Book a fishing trip in Cabo if you want to experience the thrill of fighting with a striped marlin.