Marlin-Measuring Device Improves Tournament Catch-and-Release Rates

A measuring device designed to estimate the size of striped marlin proved to be accurate and effective when first used at two recent Southern California fishing tournaments that incorporated minimum-qualifying weights into their rules formats. The Cabo Marlin Measuring Stick, donated by Cabo Yachts, was used by anglers competing in the mid-September Zane Grey-Cabo Yachts Invitational and the Drambuie Catalina Classic billfish tournaments, held during consecutive weeks out of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. Both competitions had pre-established minimum qualifying weights of 165 pounds.

The device consists of 84 inches of buoyant, fluorescent-green fly line tipped with a blaze-orange cork at one end and a four-foot fiberglass handle at the other. "Through 15 years of promoting tournaments, we've found that a 165-pound striped marlin is, on average, going to be very close to 84 inches long," explained Harvey Hunnicutt, president of International Gamefish Tournaments. "A striped marlin is brought alongside the boat and billed. The boat is then kept moving very slowly. The measuring stick is used by placing the front of the fly line at the tip of the fish's lower jaw and allowing the floating line to trail back to the fork of the marlin's tail," said Hunnicutt. "If that distance along the marlin's body is shorter than the fly line, chances are great the marlin will not qualify for weigh-in and should be released. If the fish is longer than the measuring line, obviously, it should qualify to be taken."

Greg Bourque of Cabo Yachts said his company donated the devices "because Cabo has always been a strong advocate of a catch-and-release fishing ethic and this opportunity represented an excellent method to promote an increased number of fish being released." In all, anglers released 67 percent of their total marlin catches during the two tournaments, and at least 15 fish of "marginal size" were measured and subsequently released alive.