July is one of the better months to target blue marlin in my region, and the way you do that is to either find a nice rip with a temperature break or run out and fish the oil rigs. Both are very effective ways to target marlin, since both tend to hold the baitfish that marlin are feeding on.
Ideally, you want to get some ut 95 miles satellite imagery before heading offshore and look for temperature breaks and color changes. If you find those conditions along with some good weeds the area, there’s a good chance a marlin will be around. Find where the green water is pushing up against the blue water and use that as your starting point, because while there’s always bait at the rigs, sometimes the water conditions won’t be favorable for marlin fishing, and you can narrow it all down with satellite imagery.
The closest rigs from Destin is about 95 miles out, and the best ones are more like 140 to 150 miles away, so you need good ocean conditions to make the run. When fishing around the oil rigs we like to live bait using small blackfin tuna or jumbo blue runners (hardtails).
Blackfin and yellowfin tuna are on the oil rigs pretty much year-round, which is why the blue marlin are there as well—to eat the smaller tuna. The tuna will usually be deep during the daytime, although you can mark them so you know where to fish, then they come up to the surface at night.
We do a lot of trolling, and typically pull a mixed spread of lures and rigged natural baits, usually three or four of each. We’ll pull those baits at 6 to 8 knots, with ballyhoo, mullet or a small Spanish mackerel somewhere in the spread of rigged baits.
On occasion, we’ll live bait around the rigs for a big marlin, usually in a tournament. On those days, we’re fishing a 3 to 5 pound bait on a 14/0 Circle hook and 500 pound monofilament leader.
The average bue marlin is somewhere in the 250-300 pound class, but every week this time of the year a fish well over 400 pounds and usually closer to 600 or 700 pounds is caught. Given the size of the fish, most anglers use a minimum of 50 pound tackle, with 80 pound being more the norm and some will even fish 130 pound tackle. You don’t want to hook a big fish on light tackle, it’s not good for the fish or the angler.
Captain’s Tip of the Week #14 Marlin - 2015
Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report