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An Introduction and how to guide for Big Game Fishing

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

Big game fishing is targeting larger species such as Marlin, Sailfish and Tuna. Fishing vessels travel far out into the deeper depths of the sea. Within these isolated areas, the fishermen use heavy equipment tailored for heavier specimen fish. Big game fishing is described as 75% waiting and 25% action-packed, adrenaline fulled fun.

man big game fishing
Big Game Fishing

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Since 2016 Atlantic Bluefin are seasonal visitors along the UK’s western waters. The reason for this is climate changes within the North Atlantic. Recently, various studies have been completed, showing an increase in stocks for Bluefin tuna since their decline in the early 2000s. Atlantic bluefin tuna is the largest tuna species in the world. They reach sizes of 13 feet and up to 2,000lbs. They can live up to 40 years old, and a single bluefin tuna can produce up to ten million eggs per year. These eggs will hatch approximately two days after fertilisation. Bluefin Tuna are torpedo-like in shape and have a dark red dorsal fin. These fish are extreme predators eating squid, herring and eels.


Mexico, Portugal and Costa Rica are all great locations for catching marlin. Atlantic, Indian and the Pacific Ocean all hold marlin. Catching a female marlin is a much more significant challenge than a male. This is because female marlin can grow up to three or four times bigger than males. Marlin can weigh up to 2000lbs and fourteen feet in length. The backside of the marlin is a dark blue colour, and the belly is light silver. These fish have an elongated body and a distinctive spear-like upper jaw.

Marlin uses its upper jaw to catch smaller open water fish and squid. This type of fish can only hunt during the day as it uses its eyesight to track fish. Its predatory attack thrust into large shoals of fish up to 60mph and damage or kill as many as possible with its spear-like jaw.

Marlin is a migratory species, swimming from location to location. Their mating season takes place in the summer or early autumn. The average lifespan of female blue marlin is 27 years in the wild. Males live much shorter, approximately 18 years. Females can release up to several million eggs, but less than one per cent of them will survive.


Goliath groupers can reach over 1000lbs. They are large-mouthed, brown coloured fish. For a few weeks each year, spawning of up to 100 goliath grouper occur at specific times and locations. A single grouper can travel one hundred miles to spawn and can live up to 37 years old. Goliath groupers engulf and swallow their prey whole.

It takes a goliath grouper five to six years to reach sexual maturity. Within American, all these fish must be returned to the water unharmed. Due to its large geographic distribution, the grouper is considered an umbrella species. This means that it ensures the survival of other species that share the habitats within which it is found. The goliath grouper keeps habitats from being destroyed and is essential to maintaining balance in the ecosystem.


Sailfish are easily the fastest fish in the sea, reaching top speeds of 70 miles per hour. They are easily recognisable due to their large dorsal fin protruding from their back. These dorsal fins can be more significant than the fish themselves. Their diet consists of zooplankton from a young age, and as they mature, they start to eat larger fish, squid and crustaceans.

Sailfish have a small range of predators, open ocean shark species, orcas and Mahi Mahi. A female will attract a male sailfish by swimming around with her fin above the water during breeding. The female will release her eggs into the water column, and the male will release his sperm fertilising the eggs. The most giant sailfish ever caught was 11.2 feet (340 cm) long and weighed 220.5 pounds (100 kg.)


Wahoo can be found in saltwater, tropic and subtropic areas. The largest wahoo ever caught was 158.5lbs. Experts say these fish can reach two hundred pounds. The wahoo can reach swimming speeds of 60mph. Their diet mainly consists of squid, although they will eat almost anything.

Wahoo is related to mackerel and is generally solitary fish. Occasionally, they can be found in small groups and rarely have reports of seeing shoals of up to 100 wahoos. Wahoo grows extremely quick and is viewed as a prize fish due to its speed and power.

Chartered Fishing

Within Irish waters, Bluefin Tunas are protected due to their previous decline in 2005. Therefore, fishing for these colossal creatures must be done from an authorised charter boat within the given season restrictions. Any lucky angler who manages to catch an Atlantic Bluefin Tuna must unhook it safely and return it to the water without harming it.


Being able to catch these monstrosities of fish is not an easy feat. Purchasing cheaper equipment not suitable for purpose will cause accidents such as damaged or broken rods. Due to these fish species being immensely heavy, purchasing or renting strong, durable rods made of all graphite blank, fibreglass or a mixture of both is essential. For extended journey fishing trips, polarised UV glasses and Daiwa fishing suit sets are highly recommended.

Your choice of lure or bait will be affected by the species of fish being targeted. Different types of fishing, such as casting, trolling, and pirking, will require other lures. This creates a challenging dilemma as selecting the correct lure can be a complicated challenge.

Finishing Notes

Hooking a larger species such as a tuna, marlin, grouper, sailfish or wahoo, hearing the squealing drag as the line whips access the dark sea waters will be a joyful memory that will last a lifetime. Being able to catch a trophy, specimen fish brings great pride to any keen fisherman. It takes a large amount of patience, skill and willpower to hook and fight big game fish. Therefore, many anglers feel a large amount of pride after the battle that these beautiful fish provide.

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