What does a 550-pound blue marlin that measures almost 10-feet long look like inside a 24-foot center-console boat?
“It pretty much takes up the whole boat,” said Mark Chambers of Morehead City, who was at the controls of a 24-foot Key West center console owned by Steven Meyers of Burlington on Monday when Wes Schwabe of Morehead City caught the huge blue marlin. “On the way back in, I had to run the trim tabs on one side all the way down.”
Chambers had Meyers’ boat out around the 300-fathom line northeast of Cape Lookout and south of Ocracoke, trolling for marlin. With 10 gaffer dolphin in the fish box, Chambers decided to head back from the super-deep water a ways to troll for wahoo. At about 10:30 a.m., the blue marlin struck a Lantern, a green, squid-like lure trolled in conjunction with a ballyhoo.
Schwabe grabbed the rod, which was fitted with a 50-wide reel spooled with 400 yards of dacron backing and 300-yards of 80-pound test monofilament and a leader of No. 9 wire. He fought the fish for two hours, during which time the fish towed the boat approximately 11 miles.
“We hooked the fish up around the 870 line, and we wound up at the 980 line,” Chambers said. “He went off jumping and really put on a show. But after about two hours, he got tail-wrapped and drowned. The last hour and 20 minutes, we were winching it up. I thought something would break, but it didn’t. When we got him in, there was no reviving him.”
Using a tuna door in the boat’s transom, Chambers and Meyers were able to get several ropes on the fish and pull the huge marlin into the boat for the ride back to Morehead City. When he got back to the dock at 6:10 p.m., he couldn’t arrange to get the scales that weigh in fish at the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament down to the waterfront to get an accurate weight on the fish.
“The fish was 110 ½ inches long. It had a girth of 58 inches and a 16-inch tail,” said Chambers, who normally mates for Capt. Mike Webb aboard the charterboat Pelagic but jumped on Meyers’ boat when he had a day off and calm seas on Monday. “I’m calling him 550 pounds, but he might be closer to 600.”
Chambers said he’s brought two other big marlin to the scales, a 415-pound blue in the Swansboro tournament several years ago and a 566-pound blue in Hawaii when he was fishing there several years ago. He guesses that he’s released “a half-dozen” marlin that were as big or larger than Monday’s fish – just none from a 24-foot boat with twin 150-horsepower outboards engines.
“I’m still just sitting here thinking about how did it,” he said. “It was all we could do to keep up with that fish. We were down in the backing for most of the fight.”