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Seeing Is Believing Giant Billfish

June 02, 1993

Not to take anything from Alfred Glassell, who in 1953 landed what is recognized as the largest marlin ever caught on rod and reel. But his fish, a black marlin caught off Cabo Blanco, Peru, weighed a mere 1,560 pounds.

That is a minnow compared to the billfish apparently caught in 1971 by a man and his son in the South Pacific, a black marlin that topped out at 2,873 pounds.

Native fishermen of the islands around Tahiti had boasted of such a monster being caught for years, but such talk was generally dismissed as a tall tale.

However, Yves Guilbert, manager of the Horea Royal Fishing Club in Raiatea, French Polynesia, recently located the man who landed the enormous fish.

M. Marii Terripaia provided Guilbert with a photograph and details of how he and his son landed it, which Guilbert shared in a recent issue of SaltWater Sportsman Magazine. A newsletter put out by the International Game Fish Assn. also ran a picture of the giant marlin and reported its weight at 2,650 pounds after the internal organs had been removed.

The Terripaias were reportedly fishing between Tahiti and Bora Bora when two tuna in the 50-pound class showed beneath their 30-foot boat. Marii Terripaia gaffed one of the free-swimming tuna and was staring into the water looking for the other when the massive billfish charged from the depths after the large tuna.

Terripaia hooked a bonito through the nose, cast and the marlin swallowed the bait and took off.

"I held the reel and line with a burlap wrapping . . . filled with wet seaweed to keep from burning my hands," Terripaia said.

His son started the motor, and the two gave chase after the fleeing giant, which had nearly reached the end of the line and was leaping in the distance.

The Terripaias gained on the fish, and, after 1 1/2 hours, it had lost its will to fight.

Gaffing it was out of the question because of its size, but the Terripaias managed to lasso the tail and eventually subdue the fish.

Back at Raiatea, the Terripaias and 10 others carried the marlin to a nearby market.

"The scale only registered to 1,000 kilometers (2,200 pounds), so the fish had to be cut in half," Terripaia said. "The half with the bill and the head weighed (1,773 pounds), and the piece with the dorsal fin and the meat weighed (1,100 pounds), but this was without the stomach and intestines, which had been removed."

Asked if he had seen a marlin as big since, Marii Terripaia told Guilbert: "I've seen many marlin since that day, but none as big until three or four months ago, when I saw a fish chasing a big bonito which reminded me of the big one."

Terripaia's fish, because it was tail-roped and there were other violations of IGFA rules in the catch, did not have world-record consideration.


GRUNION--Sunday marks the opening of another season, with the first night of a four-night "run" expected to begin along dark, sandy beaches between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Monday. The runs start a little later each night through June 9. A fishing license is required for those 15 and older, and bare hands are the only legal method of take.

CONSERVATION--The Rancho Cucamonga Chapter of Southern California Ducks will host a fund-raising banquet-auction Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Inn in Ontario. Details: (909) 985-6687. . . . Quail Unlimited and Southern California Ducks are sponsoring a canine health clinic Saturday and Sunday at Raahauge's Shooting Enterprises in Norco. Details: (909) 735-2361. . . .The Northeast Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold a banquet-auction next Wednesday at Los Coyotes Country Club in Buena Park. Details: (714) 738-5853.

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