July 12, 2004, Greg Stoney, Big Marlin Panga Fishing at Rancho las Cruces, Mexico:
It was just me and my dad in our 30 year old beater panga, fishing a bit east of Roca Reina, a few miles north of Cerralvo island.
Our first day out on the water, we did a bit of trolling, yoyoing and diving around the north end of Cerralvo Island, and at Roca Reina, a few miles north of the island.
All we managed that day were some small dodos, a few huachinango and an african pompano. We did see several big jumping marlin around reina though, so the next day we brought the 80# and baited up the first skippy we hooked.
We trolled this bait east of the rock for about 30 minutes when it got bit, we set it up and hooked a nice blue marlin that really put on a show with several series of greyhounding jumps and fast surface runs. After about 30 minutes we leadered the fish, snapped a few pics and let it go. We guessed it was 250-300#.
The next day we fished one skippy that got thumped, but no fish. Then it was down to the north end of cerralvo for a hoo on the troll and a hoo on the spear for Pops.
The following day the skippy we caught was a fatty (10#) and we slid it back and dragged it around for about 1.5 hours. Just as we were about to cash it in and go look for hoos, I was bit about 30' off the stern while winding it in. It jumped once and took off, we chased it and it would sound, and then surface again.
At one point the fish was towing us stern first at 2.5 kts. This went on repeatedly for about 2 hours with no chance of leadering the fish. After the last sounding, it was just dead weight slowly pulling straight down. There was no tail beat so we figured it was dead, and I put on the gloves and started slowly pulling it up while my dad wound the reel, Handlining spectra is hard!. Anyway, after an hour of this, we had the leader and a dead tailwrapped fish. We strapped it to the side of the panga, and slowly cruised back in.
We absolutely would have released it if we could have.
The gear used was a 12/0 hook, 200# leader, 150 yd topshot of 80# Izor, 130# hollow spectra backing, Tiagra 30WLRS (Cal'ed for 80#) and an all roller calstar GF7460M. In keeping with the primitive nature of our panga, I don't bridle the baits, just hook em up through the upper jaw
Unfortunately the scale at las cruces was not up to the task, so the weights I'll give are calculated. They had to use an engine hoist to get it up.
Here are some stats:
Fork length (to tip of lower jaw) 113.25" Girth 73.75"
The fish was heavier bodied than any I have ever seen
Standard formula LxG2/800 = 769.9#
Australian marlin formula, (converted to metric and back to lbs) = 748 #
Nicky Rodriguez, owner of Las Cruces, and a hell of a fisherman, estimated, “That thing is a barrilete eatin' machine, every bit of 650-plus, and that is really conservative.” He thought that the calculated weight was totally believable.
Nacho's (pangero extraordinaire) estimate 700-750#
Antonio’s thoughts (another Las Cruces guy whose seen tons of big fish)- Bigger than the 775# pounder that is mounted in the bar.
We dropped the fish off on the beach, and myself and 7 other guys were unable to lift or drag it, we finally dragged it up the beach with the truck and then 12 guys were able to get it into the bed.
It was quite a fiesta with tons of pacificos flowing.
My Dad (Ed Stoney of Laguna Beach) and I were pretty much a team on both fish, I set up and fought the blue while my dad ran the boat, he took the rod and I wired the fish when we hit the leader. On the black, I set the hook and then he fought it for about 45 min., and handed it off to me for the remainder of the fight. The most amazing part was getting bit on the wind, I felt the barrilete take off, threw it in freespool, and looked back to see a 25' wide boil right off the stern.
I should have taped the blue out, as we think it could have been around 400#, it really wasn't that much shorter than the black, just not as girthy.
Las Cruces is still a working ranch and about 150 people live there, every one of them got all the meat they wanted, and Nicky figured half of the fish was eaten the first night.
For perspective in the pics, I am 6' 3", 215#
After that fish, we put up the big gear and spent the last 2 days chasing wahoo, and got a few and farmed a lot, those things are frustating as hell.
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