The Big Blue Ocean Exploration

This could be the smallest marlin ever caught

East Coast angler hand-captures the itsy-bitsy billfish in what's described as an 'extremely rare' encounter; out of admiration he sets critter free

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Baby blue marlin image is courtesy of Richard Brackett. Baby sailfish image (below) is courtesy of Cody Williams

Most Atlantic blue marlin encountered by fishermen are large and ferocious, highly prized for their strength and acrobatics at the end of a line. They can reach weights of nearly 1,500 pounds and wage battles lasting hours.

But the blue marlin landed recently by Richard Brackett was unique in that it was not gargantuan or ferocious, but super cute and tiny enough to fit in the palm of a hand.

In fact, Brackett used both cupped hands to scoop up the mini-marlin after an encounter The Billfish Foundation described as highly unlikely. “The chance in encountering a blue marlin is quite a feat, but seeing one this small is extremely rare,” the group stated Friday on its website.

Sailfish(Note: This has been verified by TBF biologists as a blue marlin, even though it looks more like a sailfish because of its broad dorsal fin. Apparently, baby blue marlin begin life with this type of fin, which narrows as the fish grows and develops, and a stout bill. Baby sailfish—pictured at right—feature much longer bills.)

Brackett and Joey Cagle were trolling out of Charleston, South Carolina, en route to the swordfish grounds, and had battled a couple of sailfish before the sun began to set.

They then began to drift for swordfish and that’s when Brackett noticed the baby blue marlin swimming in the light behind the transom.

Brackett shares the rest of the story:

“After an hour or so, I saw what we thought to be a juvenile sailfish in the transom lights. Being such a last-minute trip, I forgot the dip net so I had to resort to option two.

“I filled the bucket with water, opened the transom door, and scooped him up with my hands and set him in the bucket. I have to say even at this small size they are crazy aggressive. I got him in my hands in the bucket … and we snapped a quick picture so we could release it as quickly as possible.”

It’s a big, cruel world out there, but Brackett and Cagle are hopeful that their itsy-bitsy billfish will survive long enough to become a top-level predator to be reckoned with.

To read more about this catch, which has been a hot topic in fishing circles, visit The Billfish Foundation’s Facebook page.

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