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Cabo bill collector

5/14/2010

Martha Macnab was bummed even after catching six blue marlin and eight striped marlin on a dream trip to Hawaii in February 2009.

"Well, we had a great fishing trip," she said. "When you get six blues, it's tough to be disappointed. We had nice weather, too."

Among her six catches was a massive 740-pounder, but she had bigger things in mind.

"That was fun, but it wasn't what I was there to do," she said.

Macnab had gone specifically to catch a spearfish to complete her IGFA Royal Billfish Slam, a catch of all nine billfish species. So she had to go back this year. Through a business week of slow fishing, the pressure mounted for her and for world-renowned Capt. Kevin Nakamaru.

"Five days and for nothing. Nothing at all," Macnab said. "The last day, the last 15 minutes, we had two spears come into the pattern and one bit."

Macnab was a couple hundred feet from the slam. Nakamura was certainly anxious, Macnab said, doing his all to help her land it.

"He was pretty funny, on one hand telling me, 'Don't push it, take it easy.' At the same time, he's backing down at about Mach 7," she said. "Finally got it. That was the final one we needed."

The spearfish completed the Royal Slam that includes Atlantic blue marlin, Pacific blue marlin, Atlantic sailfish, Pacific sailfish, white marlin, striped marlin, black marlin and swordfish. She became the 90th person to accomplish the feat and only the seventh woman.

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"It was a big sigh of relief. Actually, it was kind of like 'phew,'" she said, recalling the feeling on the boat. "If you think you're going to make me come back another year …. It was fun, though; we were all excited."

Macnab, a retired Realtor from Newport, Calif., who vacationed in and then moved to Buena Vista on Baja Sur, only started getting serious about the Slam several years ago. In fact, she wasn't sure fishing was her thing after her first trip in 1974.

"When I first started, I wasn't even sure I even liked it," she said. "I had gone out and I didn't get anything. I'm like, "Why am I doing this?"

She quickly changed her mind after bringing in several dorado and a marlin on an subsequent outing. She's since fallen in love with marlin fishing, while her husband, Larry Warlaumont, a general contractor who built houses, enjoys his dorado and wahoo.

They upgraded boats several times along the way and now fish out of Retriever, a 61-foot Viking they keep an hour away in Cabo.

"The nice thing of keeping a boat in Cabo is gives us the ability to fish the Pacific side on Cabo or the Sea of Cortez," Macnab said, "depending on what's biting where."

With striped marlin abundant in the area, she's totaled more than 1,000 catches, including her first fish in the slam and a personal-best 23 in one day at the Finger Banks.

"When the stripers come in, it's Nelly bar the door," she said. "It's not unusual to have three or four hooked up and see others around. You can get 50, 60 striped marlin in a day with just a couple anglers. When they're feeding on the surface, it's just a frenzy."

From Baja, Macnab said she can fish for five of the Royal Slam species. And she caught many through pleasure fishing and tournaments but didn't really pursue the Slam.

"I kinda knew about it, but I didn't pay too much attention until several years ago," she said, noting that only an Atlantic blue marlin and spearfish eluded her. "The spearfish is only hard because they're only in very limited areas. We have them here in Cabo. … I've never seen one. It's a real fluky thing to catch one."

"My husband and I were talking about it. We're never going to get it if we don't make the effort and go."

So it was off to St. Thomas, where four years ago aboard the Marlin Prince they both landed their Atlantic blue marlins. Their first trip to Kona wasn't so fortuitous.

"It seems when you go to a specific place targeting a specific species, that's when they don't bite," she said after catching almost everything but a spearfish on her first trip.

The second trip was money, and earned her the IGFA certificate.

"I finally got it framed and it's up on the wall," said Macnab, who was already known worldwide for her angling exploits, including being named 2007's top female angler by The Billfish Foundation. "It's pretty impressive. There's so few who have done it."

Next on their list is getting her husband a matching Royal Billfish Slam. He only lacks a white marlin and a spearfish.

"I guess we have to go back to Kona -- he'll be the designated angler and I can sit and watch," she said. And as for her. "I've got to think of something else to do, the next goal in life."

And that dream is to reel in a "grander," a marlin weighing more than 1,000 pounds. That's Martha Macnab, always thinking big.

Visit the IGFA to see the variety of Grand Slams and Royal Slams available.