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Old men and the sea? Four seniors team up to land 987-pound blue marlin


The most remarkable catch on Super Bowl weekend might have been made before the big game: That of a 987-pound blue marlin by four anglers who were at least in their 80s.

Capt. Manuel Dominguez said the youngest angler in his charter group, which embarked from the Mexican resort city of Cabo San Lucas Saturday morning on what it hoped would be a brief and relaxing tuna-fishing excursion, was 82.

The excursion lasted a grueling 16 hours.

While aboard the 32-foot cruiser, Ziggy, Arizona anglers Sergent and Sandy Snagirett, and John and Edie Rayno, had caught several tuna before deciding to reel in the lines and call it quits.

It was 1:20 p.m.

But then something very large struck the line attached to the right outrigger. At the end of the line was a lure resembling a flying fish.

An epic battle was at hand, whether the old-timers liked it or not. All took turns with the rod but neither could make headway. (Neither angler is pictured in this post. They were said to have slept in and missed the weigh-in the next morning.)

The crew members helped with the reeling duties but even they could not turn the head of the valiant billfish.

Capt. Dominguez initially thought the fish was a giant tuna, but after 40 minutes it jumped. “I thought it was around 800 pounds because I’ve caught two around that size before,” he told Tracy Ehrenberg, general manager of Pisces Sportfishing, which was first to blog about the catch.

They were still fighting the fish as the sun began to set over the Pacific.

Would they be able to bring the behemoth to the boat before sharks moved in?

Dominguez was more worried about fuel; the marlin had towed the yacht several miles offshore and showed no signs of tiring.

Thank goodness for cellphones. Dominguez phoned Pisces Capt. Julio Castro, who gathered some friends on shore and made a run to the nearest gas station. They then voyaged out aboard Tracy Ann and met up with Ziggy.

The new crew helped battle the marlin for two more hours before realizing they were supposed to play in a soccer match later that night, so they scurried back aboard Tracy Ann and sped toward shore.

Finally, Capt. Dominguez took the rod and fought the marlin until it was alongside the boat. His crew promptly gaffed and secured the billfish with ropes, but determined it was much too large to be brought aboard, or even draped across the stern swim step. (It remains unclear why this group chose to kill, rather than release the fish.)

With no other recourse, they simply tied the head of the marlin to the swim step and left the body dangling in the water during the 16-mile, four-hour ride to port. Everyone was too whipped to weigh the fish that night, so they hired a watchman to keep an eye on it until morning.

At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, the marlin tipped the marina scale at 987 pounds. Many wondered how much weight it lost while lying on the concrete dock overnight. The best estimate was 10 percent of its body weight, meaning it would have easily topped 1,000 pounds if weighed when it had arrived.

Regardless, it remains one of the top five or six heaviest marlin ever caught at Cabo San Lucas, and it’s undoubtedly the heaviest ever fought by four senior citizens from Arizona.