What to fish for

Black Marlin (Istiopax Indica)

(Formally known as Makaira indica. Updated late 2006)

Description: Color dark blue to black on back, vertical bars occasionally present, may not be obvious after death, belly silvery white, first dorsal fin low and rounded, less that 1/2 of body depth, second dorsal fin begins in front of second anal fin, pectoral fin is rigid in adults, more flexible in juveniles but will not lay flat against body without the joints breaking (only marlin with this characteristic), pelvic fin is short.

Size: Female larger than the male, males rarely exceed 300 pounds, females can weigh up to 700 pounds.

Range: Found in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Natural History: Very strong and exceptionally fast, feed on squid and pelagic fishes including tuna and dolphin.


Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans)

Description: Cobalt blue on top shading to silvery white on bottom, upper jaw elongated in form of a spear, dorsal fin pointed at front end, pectoral fin and anal fin pointed, lateral line reticulated (interwoven like a net, difficult to see in large specimens), no dark spots on dorsal fin, body covered with imbedded scales ending in one or two sharp points.

Size: The blue marlin is the largest of the Atlantic marlins, common to 11 feet, known to exceed 2,000 pounds.

Range: An offshore, blue-water fish, pelagic, makes trans-Atlantic migrations.

Natural History: Most trophy size blue marlin are females, males normally do not exceed 300 pounds, spawning procedures are unknown, feeds on squid and pelagic fishes including tuna, dolphin (dorado) and mackerel.


Striped Marlin (Tetrapturus audax)

Description: Body elongated and compressed, upper jaw extended forming a rounded spear, dark blue above becoming silver below, light blue bars or vertical spots on the sides.

Other Common Names: Striper, Stripey, Spikefish

Range: An offshore, blue water fish, pelagic, ranges throughout tropical and warm temperature waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. On the west coast of the United States they range as far north as Oregon, but are most common south of Point Conception, California.

Natural History: Feed predominately on fishes with squid, crabs and shrimp; spear sometimes used as a weapon for defense and as an aid in capturing food by slashing sideways with the spear rather than impaling its victim.


Identification Terminology

  1. Total length
  2. Fork length
  3. Standard length
  4. Head length
  5. Snout length
  6. Caudal peduncle (where the body attaches to the tail)
  7. Fin rays, spinous (unsegmented) and soft (segmented)
  8. First (spinous) dorsal fin
  9. Second (soft) dorsal fin
  10. Pectoral fin
  11. Pelvic (ventral) fin
  1. Anal fin
  2. Finlet
  3. Caudal (tail) fin
  4. Lateral line
  5. Scutes (bone-like projections)
  6. Opercle (gill cover)
  7. Preopercle (cheek)
  8. Interopercle
  9. Adipose eyelid
  10. Supramaxilla (rear portion of upper jaw bone)
  11. Premaxilla (forward portion of upper jaw bone)

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