It was April 7th, 1952 when Texas oilman Alfred Glassell, Jr. caught the first ever fish weighing over 1000 pounds on rod-and-reel. The fish was a 1025 pound black marlin and the place was Cabo Blanco, Peru. The fact that Cabo Blanco Fish Club co-founders Glassell and Kip Farrington both wound up in the IGFA hall of fame is a testament to the importance of this catch and those that soon followed off the northern coast of Peru. Over the next 16 years Cabo Blanco produced 24 world records and over 30 granders, including a 1560 pound black marlin, caught by Glassell, which continues to reign as the largest bony fish ever caught on rod-and-reel. Six other Cabo Blanco world records remain unbroken, including an all tackle bigeye tuna that weighed 435 pounds and a roosterfish that weighed 100 pounds (130 lb line class). When the military took control of Peru in 1968 anglers stopped searching the blue waters for big fish. Eventually the fish seemed to disappear as well for reasons not entirely understood. Certainly the intensive longline fishery had an effect, but changes in oceanic conditions may have occurred as well.
Forty years later, Cabo Blanco seems to be at long last awakening. April 2008 marked the first marlin tournament held off Cabo Blanco in modern times, and yes, marlin were found! Just a handful of boats from Peru and Ecuador each sighted 8-14 striped marlin per day, but they failed to find black marlin. During the course of the tournament TBF representatives Ellen Peel and Russ Nelson had the opportunity to meet three Peruvian captains from Cabo Blanco’s heyday, now in their 80’s. When questioned about black marlin these captains said “Yes, they’re here”, but they indicated they appear later in the year.
Virtually nothing is known of marlin in the southeastern hemisphere and the fact that the waters off Cabo Blanco may be coming back to life presents a special research opportunity. The Offield Center for Billfish Studies has partnered with The Billfish Foundation and Peruvian fisheries scientists to explore these historic waters in 2009 with the intent to survey, capture and satellite tag marlin off the northern coast of Peru. Paxson Offield, fishing from his boat Kelsey Lee, hopes to open the door to the many questions we have about the relationship of marlin from these waters to marlin found in other parts of the Pacific. For example, do the black marlin off Peru travel to Australia to spawn? Do the striped marlin from Peru mix with those off the Galapagos Islands? We hope to answer these questions and more…stay tuned!
MarineCSI gratefully acknowledges the support of the Offield Family Foundation.