Upon initial inspection, you might be inclined to think the fish cupped gently in the hands of angler Richard Brackett is a baby sailfish. At least that’s what I thought. But it turns out the The Billfish Foundation has confirmed that Brackett’s recent “catch” is, in fact, a baby blue marlin. Per the story and illustrations on the organization’s website, juvenile marlin start life with no bill, and a “sail” that later develops into a more slender, curved dorsal fin of a mature marlin. What’s most interesting about this story to me is that in your lifetime, it’s more likely that you’ll catch a 1,000-pound blue marlin than hold one this size in the palm of your hand.
Here’s the account from Brackett: My boss, Joey Cagle and I decided to run out to swordfish for a couple hours (off of Charleston, SC), so we left about noon and trolled from 200′ straight out to the deep just to see what we came across on the way. We had a pretty good day and ended going 1-2 pm sails and had a couple other bites. Once the sun started to set we set up for a drift. After an hour or so, I saw what we thought to be a juvenile sailfish in the transom lights. Being such a last minute trip, I forgot the dip net so I had to resort to option two. I filled the bucket with water, opened the transom door and scooped him up with my hands and set him in the bucket. I have to say even at this small size they are crazy aggressive. I got him in my hands in the bucket to try and we snapped a quick picture so we could release it as quickly as possible.
Anglers in general, I’d say, don’t give too much thought to little versions of big fish and where they live, but you do come across them from time to time. The first pike I ever caught measured about 6 inches and ate a worm under a bobber I was fishing for bluegills. I also hooked into an 8-inch barracuda at the Jersey Shore years ago casting a metal at small bluefish. You ever landed any odd babies?