Venice, Louisiana Captain gets weird double-header.

It’s been a weird year on Midnight Lump off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. Late winter is usually the best time to catch a 200-pound yellowfin tuna on the submerged seamount 44 miles off Venice. But this year, the tuna never showed. Captain Kevin Beach of Reel Peace Charters was one of the first to leave the lump in search of greener pastures. Fishies

“The fish didn’t check their calendar this year,” he says, “we’re already in our April pattern.” Blame it on El Nino or La Nina, but last Tuesday, Beach was slow-trolling a pair of live blue runners off an oil rig 20 miles out of South Pass when his weird year got even weirder. “We had a 300-pound mako come up on the short line,” he says. The fish grabbed the bait and disappeared. Beach kept the drag loose, knowing that they had little chance of landing a toothy shark on fluorocarbon leader. While the angler let the fish swim off, Beach prepared another bait on a wire leader. “I noticed that the long bait was sinking,” he recalls, “I figured the shark had grabbed that bait, too.” Wrong.

That’s when a 300-pound blue marlin exploded out of the water. “I was absolutely shocked,” Beach says. Once he regained his senses, Beach asked his party if they wanted to catch a mako or a blue marlin. The crew voted marlin. Beach broke off the shark, and chased down the billfish.

Fishies2 “It put on a beautiful aerial show,” he says. After a 15-minute fight, Beach released the huge marlin. This is the third year in a row that Beach, has caught the first blue marlin of the season. “This is the first time we’ve caught one this early,” he says. Once the marlin was safely on his way, Beach went back to fishing. His party ended the day with 4 yellowfin, several blackfin, a limit of amberjack, and a grouper.

“I told the guys, we might as well go in now,” Beach says, “because it isn’t going to get any better than this.”

—Ric Burnley