Kendwa, Zanzibar (TZ)
Black marlin (Istiompax indica) grows to be as big or bigger than blue marlin, with males reaching lengths of 4.65 meters and weighing up to 750 kilograms (1500lb), females larger. They are part of a group of fish called billfish, which includes varieties of marlin, swordfish, and spearfish.
The black marlin is the fastest fish in the world, being able to reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. They are found close to the surface of the water. Their markings are identifiable by having a dark blue dorsal side, a silver underside, with the first dorsal fin being dark blue and the others being a brown colour with occasional flecks of blue.
Unique to other marlin species, the black marlin cannot retract its fins, although they maintain the same “sword” shaped upper jaw. Black marlin can live to be up to 25 years old. Their diet consists of squid, mackerel, cuttlefish, octopus, and smaller fish. They are rarely known to dive deeper than 600 feet.
The black marlin is found in tropical oceans, namely the Indo-Pacific region. They prefer to stay in climates where temperatures remain between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Cairns (Australia), Kona (Hawaii), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), Panama and Costa Rica are some of the best fishing areas.
The two main fishing techniques for black marlin are slow trolling larger live or dead bait such as skipjack tuna or trolling at higher speeds with skirted lures intended for marlin fishing.
When using these skirted lures, troll them at varying distances behind the boat and see if you can notice any marlin coming up to look at the lure. Skipjack tuna is a great bait for black marlin fishing, although a large number of other fish will provide good results.
When trolling, some captains try to raise a fish behind the boat using hookless teasers. Once the fish is there, the angler drops back a dead bait to a fish raised on a hookless teaser. Bait & Switch is probably the most exciting way of black marlin fishing.
The black marlin is known to be gamey. Those who do use black marlin for dishes recommend using it in a stew or curry of some sort rather than eating it like a steak. In general, black marlin is known more for the experience of catching them than the experience of eating them though, and many anglers release them after catching one.
NOAA regulations prohibit the sale of any black marlin unless caught by U.S. fishing vessels and landed and kept in Hawaii or Pacific Insular Areas and then sent outside the U.S. or used for local consumption.
Similarly, Australia has banned the commercial fishing of black marlin.
Regulations vary by location, so make sure to stay up to date with the regulations in your area of fishing if you plan on fishing without a charter.