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MARLIN FISHING 101: How much will it take to score the big one at Poco Bueno

By ROBERT ZAVALA
July 18, 2013 at 2:18 a.m.


Founded in 1969 by Walter F. Fondren, Poco Bueno (which means "It's OK" in Spanish), is an invitation-only fishing tournament held annually in Port O'Connor That first tournament had only 13 participants; today, as many as 100 boats join in.

One of the tournament's biggest and oldest rivalries comes from seeing which boat can snag the biggest or the first marli, and win a purse of about $300,000.

Here's a look at the boats, crew and money involved in tracking the big catch:

CHA-CHING! Finding the right boat:

Most boats cost at least $250,000, and the best shown has a base price of $3 million.

The boat pictured (in the attached graphic) is a 32-foot Hatteras GT60, an example of a typical boat used for marlin fishing.

Hatteras, Viking, Bertram and Boston Whaler are popular builders of sportfishing boats.

Boats for such fishing are usually about 32 feet long.

The inboard diesel engines can burn more than 100 gallons of fuel per hour of operation.

Cost of rods and reels usually run about $10,000 total.

THE FIGHT

Multiple baited hooks are draffed behind the moving boat. When a marlin is hooked, a crewmember grabs the rod and is harnessed into the fighting chair (see graphic). That crewmember is responsible for reeling in the fish. The fighting chair is bolted to the deckand enables the fighter to swivel back and forth and side to side in response to the marlin's movements. When the marlin is pulled close enough, two linemen help pull it in using hooks called gaffs.

Some linemen use rope instead of hooks to keep from damaging the fish.

THE VIEW ABOVE

Some boats are outfitted with an obersvation platform called a tuna tower. The tuna tower enables the observer to spot marlines and schools of small fish that attract larger game.

THE WHEELHOUSE

Where the driver steers the boat. The driver responds to information from the fighter and the linemen to turn the boat and follow the hooked fish's path. The driver watches gauges and computer monitors to track speed, weather conditions, water depth and direction.

Some boats have underwater cameras with visibility up to 120 feet. The cameras enable the driver to see if marlins are close to the bait.

SOURCES: Bink Grimes, Curtiss Cash; Promotional boat images from hatterasyachts.com, poco-bueno.com, International Game Fish Association; Marlin image from shutterstock.com.

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