Dredge ‘Em Up: Pro Tips for Catching More Blue Marlin
by Dale Wills
“What did one dredge say to the other dredge? It looks like your having a ball! Isn’t that the point of the modern day dredge teaser. But what changes when the targeted species is a blue marlin?”
That feeling of time standing still on the bite is something that doesn’t change regardless of what spread you’re trolling. What is changing is modern blue marlin fishing. Mostly gone are the days when trolling big lures with big hooks and heavy drag settings was the deal. And while “drag and snag” still has its place on some very good boats, those words are certainly not echoed up and down the docks like in years’ past. The changes have much more to do with releasing fish, circle hooks and more teams using dredges when targeting blue marlin. Whether you’re fishing in St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, the mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean, more and more of today’s blue marlin fishermen are dredge and teaser fishing. Ever wondered what the other guy is doing to be so successful? We delve into the psyche of some top marlin skippers who open up with helpful tips for your summer marlin fishing season.
Captain Mike Lemon, formerly of the Revenge, has fished the blue marlin-rich waters of the famous North Drop of St. Thomas for the past 30-plus years. Mike is one of the few captains who can still tell you where he is on the Drop with names like “the gun sight,” “the saddle,” “short saddle” and “the corner,” using geographic positions which line up the Virgin Islands to form visual cues resembling their names. Like all good captains who are open to change, Lemon started using the dredge in 2011 after declaring, “I saw too many good fishermen trying it not to give it a shot.” His standard North Drop spread is one dredge, two bridge teasers, two short rigger teasers and two long riggers with hooks. With trolling speeds anywhere from 7.5 to 8.5 knots, Lemon uses a light six-arm Zing dredge equipped with six mud-flap style teasers and a bowling pin teaser positioned in the center of the dredge to create more of a swerving action. Lemon also points out that his dredge is controlled from the cockpit.
“Our dredge is positioned around the second wave, with the bridge teasers around the third wave,” he says. “I always felt that we had ours way too far back and probably raised some fish to it but didn’t know it. I wish I could see it better but a lot of that is training yourself to look there.” Lemon goes on to say, “When we raised a marlin on a bridge teaser, the first thing we did was wind the dredge up. Then one of the mates or anglers on the teasing side would crank the short rigger in near the initial bridge teaser position. I do this for a couple reasons but mainly to be in a better position for a back up should the fish not get hooked on the pitch bait. It’s also much easier to keep clear of a crazy fish getting tangled through the spread when coming tight,” says Lemon.
He points out the importance of paying attention and understanding how the marlin is teasing. “I try to do as much as I can to provide my angler with an anticipated bite versus a surprise explosion on the pitch,” he says. “To help with this, I’ve learned not t………………………………..(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.