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Tickling Up Big Game



Burnley Leadin

    When I began offshore fishing in the 1970s, offshore was not as far off as it is today. We had white marlin at the Jack’s Spot, along with wahoo and dolphin. You only had to run as far as A Buoy, about 12 miles off the bell out of Indian River Inlet in Delaware, to catch all the bluefin tuna you could carry. We were running trailer boats in the 20-foot range back then, and it was good to have world class fishing so close to shore.
    Those trailer boats had an 8-foot beam so we fished four lines. I have fished on 8-foot beam boats that tried to run seven or eight lines and unless there was a very well-trained crew, the results were not worth the aggravation.
    Our usual set up was two flat lines clipped off at the transom and two lines from the outriggers that were placed on the third to fifth wave. If we had teasers, they were tied off to the stern cleats.
    The flat lines carried cedar plugs when tuna were the target and ballyhoo or swimming mullet when looking for marlin. The outriggers ran feathers and an Uncle Josh Big Boy pork rind trailer when tuna were the target and ballyhoo if we were trying for marlin. Some boats had rod holders on the top, and we ran a Green Machine way back on one of those.
    The feathers were very effective. We not only caught tuna, but dolphin and wahoo as well.
    On one memorable day while fishing around the 30-Fathom Line on Frank Goodhart’s 25-foot Chris Craft, Brenda Lou, we had a big fish crash the feather and pork rind lure and take off on a scorching run. Frank had the rod, I was on the wheel and Bobby Rumble cleared the lines. The fish kept giving up and taking line while staying just below the surface, and we though it must be a big wahoo. The seas were a bit rough, making any attempt at identifying the fish a shot in the dark.
    As it got close to the boat I saw it light up with bars along the side and that confirmed my guess of a wahoo. I had the gaff ready and when Frank finally brought the fish in range, to my surprise it turned out to be a white marlin. As I removed the hook with the fish still in the water I noticed it had one eye that was milky in color. I have no idea if that was why it never jumped, but I believe Frank still claims that fish was the toughest white marlin he ever caught.

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