• Published:May 27, 2020
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Striped marlin are easy to spot when they appear behind the boat.
Flashing deep blues and neon purples on its flanks and dorsal fins, the striped marlin is hard to miss when it pops up behind a teaser.

The striped marlin, Kajikia audax, is a member of the Istiophoridae family of billfish, and is often called a striper or stripey depending on where it's caught.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, took the reins as perhaps the best location in the world to catch a striped marlin several years ago when crews found a giant aggregation of stripeys feeding on bait balls. On December 8, 2007 the crew fishing on the boat Reelaxe released a reported 190 striped marlin in a single day with five anglers. To catch that many marlin in a single day is staggering and many claim it's just not possible. However, the Reelaxe was not the only boat to put up such numbers. Several crews released anywhere between 80 and 100 striped marlin in single outings during this notorious bite. Reelaxe reportedly caught 330 striped marlin in two days. The bite in 2007 may very well go down as the best marlin fishing ever recorded. Magdalena Bay, located about halfway down the Baja Peninsula, is another famous striped marlin honey hole. The striped marlin bite varies from year to year, but when Mag Bay is firing, it is hands down insane. Find the striped marlin, and it will be a nonstop party. You better have a lot of bait on hand. Striped marlin typically bite best from February through August on the banks off Mag Bay. The bite really depends on the presence of bait, and depending on the currents and water temps, the bait abundance varies from year to year. Top captains keep a close eye on the conditions tracking currents and warm water using sea surface temperature charts. If you're looking for world-record sized striped marlin, you better plan a trip to New Zealand's North Island. This area is home to the largest striped marlin in the world (as well as big blue marlin and giant swordfish). A look at the IGFA World Record book quickly tells the tale. All of the conventional line class world records were caught off New Zealand, including the 494-pound beast landed by Bill Boniface in 1986 on 50-pound tackle that stands as the all tackle world record. A nearly 500-pound striped marlin is an incredible catch. In other striped marlin hot spots such as Mexico and Hawaii, a 200-pound striped marlin is a damn nice fish.


The striped marlin is mostly closely associated with white marlin as far as appearance goes, but the two species live in separate oceans. The striped marlin is only found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, while the white marlin lives in the Atlantic. So unless you forget which ocean you're fishing on, there shouldn't be much confusion. The striped marlin's most distinguishing characteristic is its high, pointed dorsal fin, which normally equals or exceeds the fish's body depth. According to the IGFA, "Even in the largest specimens this fin is at least equal to 90 percent of the body depth." The striped marlin's anal and pectoral fins are also pointed. The pec fins are foldable and the striped marlin can hold them flush against its sides. Striped marlin are by far one of the most colorful fish in the ocean. Their dark backs fade to a bright silvery blue on the upper flanks and a white underbelly. Striped marlin take their name from the bright vertical stripes visible on their sides.
If you're looking for world-record sized striped marlin, you better plan a trip to New Zealand's North Island.

When balling bait, striped marlin often flash bright colors. Scientists believe this color confuses the bait and helps keep the school together. Striped marlin have numerous iridescent blue spots on the fins and pale blue or lavender vertical stripes on their sides. These may or may not be prominent, but they are normally more prominent than those of other marlins, and they persist after death, which is not always true on other marlins. As a migratory species, the striped marlin's diet consists of a range of prey, depending on what is available. They feed on finfish such as mackerel, goggle-eyes (caballito), flying fish, mackerel and sauries. They'll also feed on squid or whatever else is abundant. The striped marlin is found in tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. In the Indian Ocean, fish are more densely distributed in equatorial regions with higher concentrations off eastern Africa, in the western Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and off northwestern Australia. Striped marlin inhabit cooler water than black marlin or blue marlin. They are found in water from 68 to 77 degrees F. Striped marlin are commonly found above the thermocline. They are usually found relatively close to shore and prefer areas along drop offs or seamounts. Striped marlin are fished commercially around the world.


Anglers enjoy targeting striped marlin with lighter tackle. The species is well known for its fighting ability and has the reputation of spending more time in the air than in the water after it is hooked. Striped marlin like to make long runs and tailwalk across the surface. Anglers fish for striped marlin with various methods, including trolling lures and rigged baits and live-baiting. In Mexico, most crews will cast live mackerel to "sleepers," which are striped marlin spotted finning on the surface.