SoCal Blue Marlin
Understandably, when I caught up with Matt Santora of Finbomb, he was almost out of breath from telling the epic story of his giant, SoCal blue marlin, but the energy started flowing as he recounted the battle to me.
Matt tries to fish a couple times per week from his 21-foot skiff in local San Diego waters. With the unusually good fishing the area has been enjoying due to warm El Nino water, Matt’s freezer is well stocked with tuna, dorado and yellowtail.
He set out this day to try his hand at trolling for wahoo, another rare visitor here on a warm-water pass.
He and his buddy Andy Vo were trolling two marauder lures and a couple of marlin jigs when the rubber band holding down one of the marauders popped. They watched and nothing happened so they chalked it up to a broken band and reset the spread. A minute later his Shimano Talica 25 with 100-pound test started screaming.
Matt said, “It was not like any sound I had heard. It was screaming so hard that it had a high-pitched sound. I figured we had a big wahoo. I picked up the rod and could tell it was heavy, but I had no idea. It was like hooking on to a speeding freight train that was not stopping.”
They cleared their spread and gave chase still not knowing what they had hooked.
Matt described the moment they knew, “ The fish started jumping and even at 150-yards, she still looked big. But I was thinking three, maybe four hundred pounds big. Never did it cross my mind that it was twice that. The marlin got really pissed and sounded, but then came back up jumping. We had a dinky fighting belt and no stand-up harness, but we had great communication between us. I downshifted to low gear on the two speed Talica when it dug in and used high gear when I could gain line. We knew we had to bring our A-game to succeed at this lopsided battle. After two hours we got the swivel, but the fish did not act tired and I was worried we would hurt someone or tear up the boat. So we fought it for another hour before we tried to grab the leader and work the tail rope on it. It was huge next to our 21-foot skiff. Now we wondered how we were going to get it in the boat as well as remembering the many hammerhead sharks we had been seeing.
I called my dock-mate and his dad. They ran over to us and gave us their pully set-up and helped us wench the fish into the boat. It was only then I realized this fish was a giant, but still had no clue it weighed that much. Even back at the Marlin Club, where everyone was freaking out, I did not know it would weigh that much. Old-timers were showing up and proclaiming it the biggest or first they had ever seen from local waters. We were making California history with this SoCal marlin.”
Matt also said at one point during the fight, a Coast Guard cutter was doing live-fire drills and told them to leave, but they explained they were hooked to a giant and they worked it out.
Matt is the owner of FinBomb and which is a vibrant part of the SoCal fishing scene.
Congrats to Matt and Andy on their fish and may you have many more.
Photo Credit: Larry Shea