• Published:September 8, 2020
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Looking at a map of the north Atlantic Ocean, you could be forgiven for not giving too much of a second thought to the small, isolated Portuguese island of Madeira. While the Madeira may not make much of an impact on the map, it certainly makes its presence known in the blue marlin book of world records.

Madeira is described by many as the world's ultimate big blue marlin fishery. While nobody understands exactly why, the fish here are big.

They average 600 pounds. A 300 pounder is a rat. To put this claim into perspective, a rat blue in Madeira is bigger than the average FAD blue caught in Costa Rica.

Captain Gerard “Frothy” Da Silva

Captain Gerard “Frothy” Da Silva runs the Pesca Grossa, a 30’ express boat, out of Madeira. Da Silva is dialed into the trophy blue marlin and bigeye tuna fisheries upon Madeira’s name was made.

Frothy provides an expert run down of what to expect, when to come and how the fishery functions. As the Pesca Grossa is a charter operation, Da Silva makes Madeira’s waters—and the giant blue marlin that inhabit them—accessible to the world.

Heavy Tackle

Frothy’s approach to fishing in Madeira is governed by the ever present chance at greatness. “We fish all day, every day according to IGFA rules. We approach every day like we are going for a world record blue marlin,” he says.

His standard trolling gear involves 130s; he deploys pitch baits on 80-pound outfits. “We are always ready. One day we might run into a 1,500 pound blue marlin,” Da Silva says.

In most places, were someone to make this claim, they would most probably be lying or intoxicated. Frothy is neither (he fishes in Madeira).

“The fishing depends on the clients and what they would like to do,” Da Silva explains. He typically runs five lures and two teasers. If he has experienced anglers, with the inclined disposition, he will sometimes pull four big teasers with a couple of 80-pound pitch rods.

Da Silva’s lure choices are dictated by the size of the fish that he is after. “My favorite is the Marlin Magic Ruckus XXL. I also like Koyas—the Poi Dog XL. I like to use the XXL Koya teaser—it is really big.”

“Madeira is probably the best giant marlin fishery in the world. Nobody really understands why, but all of the fish here are big. They average 600-plus. There are lots of 800s and 900s, sometimes granders,” Da Silva explains. “Through time there have been more than 20 granders weighed here. Now most of them are released, which is good.”

Some of the big fish that were harvested on the island are still printed in the record books. There are a combined six standing men’s and women’s Atlantic blue marlin line class records from Madeira. Many others that were set here have been broken.

When to Come

The blue marlin fishery runs from mid-May through Mid-October. Some years, it can start in early May or end in early October,” Da Silva says.

“July has always been my best month. June was Peter Bristow’s (the legendary Australian captain who has fished Madeira for decades) best month,” he explains.

“June, July and August are probably the best months for marlin fishing. In September you have fewer bites, but that’s grander month. Roddy Hayes, who put Madeira on the map, said, ‘In September, look out!’ If you get a bite in September it can be a really big fish,” says Frothy. “That said, you can catch a grander here anytime.”

Water Temperature

Beyond the giant blue marlin here, another of Madeira’s notable selling points is that all of the fishing here is done in the lay of the island. Not only is hardly ever rough, the fishing is generally in close to the island. As Madeira sits in relatively cool water (compared to other, more tropical marlin fishing destinations), water temperature plays a large role in the fishing. Early in the season, captains here search for warm water—eddies that spin off of the Gulf Stream.

“Early in the season, you look for warm water. In the middle and later in the season, sometimes you look for colder water,” Frothy explains. “We will run out wide if there is a nice eddy, otherwise the island is our structure (so we’ll fish near it).” Check the latest satellite images of the area at  Canary Islands SST Chart.

How to Get To Madeira

While Madeira is governed by Portugal, the island sits west of the coast of Morocco. It is just north the Canary Islands and the Azores— which are also big blue marlin destinations in their own right.Two flight options from the United States:

  • Boston to the Azores to Madeira

  • Miami to Lisbon, Portugal to Madeira.

To book a trip with Captain Frothy Da Silva contact him through Facebook: Gerard Frothy de Silva or Instagram: @desilvagerard