- George Poveromo
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Editor's note: "George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing" airs each Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2 television. Episode 6, catching blue marlin around Crooked Island, Bahamas, debuts Sunday, Feb. 11; it re-airs Feb. 17 at 6 a.m. ET and Feb. 18 at 6:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. For more on George Poveromo, visit www.georgepoveromo.com.
To reach Crooked Island, in the far southeastern Bahamas, it's 375-miles by
plane or some 425-miles by boat from Fort Lauderdale.
Boat traffic is light down here and fishing pressure even scarcer. It's one of the few areas in the Bahamas
where you can fish for blue marlin and rarely see another boat.
And when you're
the only game in town, you have the undivided attention of the blue marlin that
roam in these waters.
Catching blue marlin was the reason I returned to this section of the
Bahamas. I've enjoyed excellent trips to nearby San Salvador, Cat Island and
even Diana Bank, catching big dolphin, tuna, marlin and wahoo as large as 143-
Simply put, I've yet to have a less-than-spectacular trip
down here. So with my perfect track record in the southeast Bahamas, I
boarded the Over-Under Adventures private plane and headed for Clarencetown,
Waiting for me to arrive was Trey Rhyne, President of Over Under
Adventures, Captain Bob Balut and mate Joe Trainor. We planned to leave
Flying Fish Marina on Long Island aboard their 54-foot sportfishing boat in the
morning and cruise 35 miles to the northernmost tip of Crooked Island, near Bird Rock.
Where the fish play
Between Long Island's easternmost point, and the northernmost tip of Crooked Island by Bird Rock, there's a 26-mile "gap",
which serves as a reasonably small passage where good numbers of blue marlin
funnel through during their early summer migrations.
In addition, many marlin
travel with the northbound current which flows along the western side of Crooked,
frequenting the precipitous shelves and dropoffs paralleling this island mass.
There's also a deep water hump not too far off the tip of Crooked that also attracts marlin. The bottom here rises to approximately 1,700 feet of the surface
from a surrounding depth that varies between 3,600 and 4,800 feet deep.
On the first day, we set out a five-lure spread and two large hookless lures for
teasers. The lures of choice were the Rick's Fancy a blunt-headed design made
by Bluewater Lures (561-394-6497).
Most were purple and black, but we
integrated a green/blue/yellow pattern as well as a blue and white one into the
Each lure was stiff-rigged with two size 10/0 hooks rigged at a 90-degree
angle, and six feet of 400-pound test monofilament leader. We fished with Penn 50
and 70 International reels spooled with Sufix Superior, Hi-Vis Yellow line. Each
reel was rigged with a 200-pound test wind-on leader and a size 6 (300-
pound test) SPRO Ball Bearing Snap Swivel.
Timid they aren't
Blue marlin aren't shy, as they often gravitate to the
boat and teasers. What's more, when a blue eats close to the boat, there's less
stretch in the fishing line to deal with a huge advantage when setting the hook on
one of these fish.
We deployed our "long" outrigger baits 130 feet back and
parallel with each other, whereas the two "short" outrigger baits were placed 90-feet back.
Next, we set our hookless teasers some 20 to 30-feet behind the boat.
The "shot gun" bait was positioned in between the long and short 'riggers and
in the middle of the spread.
All the fishing lines were run from the outriggers.
The theory here is that the amount of slack generated between the time the
line parts from the release clip to when it comes taught to the fish enables the
marlin to gain complete possession of the lure. So when the line comes tight and
the lure is deep in the fish's mouth, hook-up percentages soar.
Our first day off Crooked was disappointing, but not
from lack of fish. We ended up hooking three blue marlin and losing all three!
Trey Rhyne's fish threw the hook during its initial run, whereas I got two jumps
out of my fish before it tossed the lure back at me.
Trey accounted for the final
marlin hit that day, but missed setting the hooks.
To maximize our fishing time off Crooked, we overnighted in 40 feet of water,
fairly tight to the Island. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, relaxed and regained our
positive attitude. We would fish long and hard the following day, and make every
The makings of a long day
As charged up as we were after letting
out the baits, our enthusiasm began to wane with each fish-less hour. By 4
p.m., I began to think that we had seen our shots the previous day. Had our luck
Just when I was really down in the dumps around 5 p.m., a blue
crashed a lure. With 80-pound test line screaming off the reel at a frightening
pace tethered to an acrobatic blue marlin, I grabbed the rod and held tight,
waiting for the fish to settle and the opportunity to reclaim line.
Most of all,
I was holding my breath that the hook wouldn't pull. It didn't, and the fish eventually settled in the depths.
Captain Bob backed down the boat in hot pursuit of the marlin, while I cranked for all I was worth.
Battling that marlin was tough, but very rewarding especially when Joe
Trainor grabbed the leader some 45 minutes later. We were on the board with an
estimated 275-pound marlin! We trolled another 30 minutes, with no luck, and
then headed back to our anchorage for the evening.
We were in a much better
mood! The plan for the next day was to troll until noon, then run back to Flying
Fish Marina on Long Island.
About 10 a.m., a blue marlin appeared behind
the teaser. Trey and I each dropped back a pitch bait by the teaser, which was now
However, we couldn't steer the marlin's interest away from it.
Seconds after the marlin disappeared, we thought it was all over. Then, suddenly,
the fish reappeared and piled on the dolphin-hued, Bluewater lure that was
swimming some 50-feet beyond where the teaser had been!
The strike was violent. I grabbed the rod and basically held on. After a wild
and strenuous 20-minute battle, I led the estimated 275-pound blue marlin along
side the boat. Trey and Joe removed the hooks, tagged the fish and set it free.
What a way to end our trip! But it wasn't over quite yet.
Surprise in the marina
Back at Flying Fish Marina, we cleaned up and were waiting on a crew member before heading up to the restaurant for dinner.
To pass the time, I grabbed a 20-pound spinning outfit rigged with a Yo-Zuri
Surface Cruiser and made a cast in the marina. You can only imagine how
surprised I was when a huge mutton snapper followed in right to the boat.
the lure, and the mutton ate it! After a spirited fight around and under the boat and docks, we boated the 15-pound snapper!
June is marlin time off Crooked, and Over Under Adventures will be back this
coming season. In fact, they specialize in fishing trips to the far southeastern
Their schedule puts them in either Cat Island or Rum Cay between
January and May, and Crooked Island in June.
To simplify travel to the boat, they
also have private aircraft that flies direct from Fort Lauderdale.
information on Over Under Adventures, call 1-866-OUA-TUNA, or visit
As for me, I'll be back down there with them in March, chasing giant wahoo off
San Salvador! Let's see if my perfect record in the southeastern Bahamas remains
For more information on George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing, visit: www.georgepoveromo.com
53mMichael C. Wright