Marlin Fishing in Florida: Top 10 Things You Need to Know

Marlin is one of the most coveted game fish. Check out these ten things you need to know to successfully catch one.

Marlin Fishing in Florida: Top 10 Things You Need to Know
Marlin Fishing in Florida: Top 10 Things You Need to Know
Team Guidesly

January 24, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on January 21, 2022

Marlin Fishing in Florida: Top 10 Things You Need to Know
Team Guidesly

January 24, 2022, 5 min read

Updated on January 21, 2022

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The most traditional type of big game sport fishing is marlin fishing. One of the most popular offshore dreams is to catch a marlin. Anglers from all over the world flock to Florida, where there are plenty of marlin to go around!

Ernest Hemmingway is a well-known big game marlin fisherman. Hemmingway, the celebrated author, and angler who frequented the Gulf Stream waters, was a pioneer in using outriggers in big game fishing.

Big sport fishing is a good challenge every angler should try, and many consider marlin the best game fish. This fish is a highlight of many angler's stories and top-selling books.

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A marlin generally measures up to 16 feet and weighs 1,400 pounds. Anglers who want to catch this fish will need knowledge, skill, and patience to reel in one. This guide contains various information and tips to help you reel in a good marlin. 

10 Tips for a Successful Marlin Fishing

1. Best Marlin Fishing Locations 

boat with fishing rods trolling on the water

In the country, there are three popular marlin fishing locations. First is "The Wall," an area just 20 miles south of Key West. Waters around this area have depths ranging from 950 to 2000 feet, making it suitable for marlin. 

The Northwest Florida area of Destin, Panama City Beach, and Mexico Beach is next, where the Panhandle starts its majestic curve to the south. It's no surprise that a Destin charter boat captain caught his record-breaking 1,046-pound Blue Marlin in those beautiful, clear waters. Similarly, there are obvious reasons why the area is home to several prestigious billfish tournaments and why Destin is known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village."

2. Best Time for Marlin Fishing

According to anglers, the high season for marlin fishing in Florida is from May to October. During this time, adult marlin frequently swims up along the banks of the Gulf Coast. You can catch them while searching for food or spawn mates. On the other hand, the low season for marlin fishing in Florida is typically from December to late February as the marlin begins to hibernate and retreat to deeper waters.  

3. Know Different Kinds of Marlin

Marlin has four different types. Distinguishing different kinds of marlin as they jump and tug on your rod might help increase your chances of catching them.  

The black marlin is generally the heaviest, weighing 1000-1500 pounds faster than others. On the other hand, blue marlin is more popular because of its big jumps out of the water but is easy to tire out. Next, the striped marlin will put up the most challenging fight, often resisting even after the hook has been driven deep into their jaws. Lastly, the white marlin is the smallest and lightest of them all, making it easier to catch it. 

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4. Use Live Bait 

Trolling live bait to keep their pungent odor underwater attracts marlin. Live tuna, shrimp, or roundworms are best when fishing for blue marlin. 

Attaching these live bait deep in your hook will help increase your chances of catching a marlin. If you hook your bait too close to the hook's tip, the marlin can snag the bait away easily. 

5. Prepare Your Gear

Ideally, your rods should have good power, bending capability, and taper. Rods longer than your height or at least 12 inches are best against a marlin. Bring extra reels of fishing line that have good elasticity and weight. You should always bring more than 100 yards of line aboard as a rule of thumb. Lastly, your hooks should be firm and big enough to hold onto a marlin's jaw. Generally, the 15/0-19/0 size works best for a marlin. 

6. Setup on Marlin Fishing Spots

A proper setup can distinguish between a boring fishing trip and catching the most coveted game fish on the Gulf Coast. You could follow the 3-step rule when setting up to catch marlin. 

The first is to determine the current direction, which will guide you on where to cast your line. Currents will carry the smell of bait towards the fish. Second, troll a lure weighing more than 15 pounds. Heavier baits attract game fish, and the marlin will not pass up to snag your bait. The third is to have your mate or the captain man the boat while you are busy with the rod. Maneuvering is crucial for marlin fishing because the fish can swim away from the line in mere seconds. 

7. Venture to Deeper Waters

Marlin generally resides in deeper waters, so this is where you will have the best chance of catching them. Keeping tabs on the weather report is essential since big waves can be in deeper waters

8. Consult With the Locals

Getting all the knowledge, you can increase your chances of catching marlin. Locals are familiar with information such as vegetation, weather forecasts, and fishing season, so it is best to consult with them before heading out and casting your line, hoping to find a bite. 

9. Get There Early

Remember to head out to a fishing location you have scoped out when it is still dark out, and the sun has not yet risen. If you run out when the sun is up and bright, you lose precious time catching fish swimming in fast waters or their usual migratory passages. You also lose to anglers who had covered more ground than you by the time you got to your fishing location. 

Anglers usually start marlin fishing in the early hours, so be prepared to brace the cold dew that comes during these hours. 

10. Share Your Knowledge

After you have done all of these and successfully caught the ultimate game fish, remember to pass it over to the next angler who needs your help. It will not take much of your time or resources to share stories or experiences that helped you land a big catch, so do not hesitate to help out. Maybe, you’ll also find a good tip in return.

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