Monster Striped Marlin in The Galapagos Islands
When fishing this untapped fishery, you can expect to land striped marlin over 200 pounds.
By Pat Ford

There are tuna in the Galapagos and this one is over 200 pounds.

My first trip to the Galapagos was a disaster. Tim Choate set it up and it had more than it’s share of glitches…we were on the wrong island, boat and accommodations were terrible, and we caught 3 fish in 4 days.

Fast forward 15 years and I was back in the Galapagos with Javier Guevera of We were in San Cristobal, which was where we should have been the first time, and the boat was a 33’ locally made sportfisherman powered by three huge outboards and owned by Fernando Ojeda, who rode along with us. Chris and Jen Lalli joined Rhona Chabot and I for the trip and it went very smoothly. Javier set us up in a hotel about 100 yards from the dock. Sea lions and marine iguanas were lounging around most everywhere, and the seas were calm. Perfect. We were primarily fly fishing, but weren’t too snooty to throw a pitch bait to a marlin that refused the fly.

My first surprise was how big the striped marlin are in the Galapagos . . . much bigger than those in Mexico’s Magdalina Bay. We rarely saw a fish under 200 pounds and some seemed closer to 250 pounds.

The run to the marlin grounds took around and hour. We spotted the marlin by the flocks of Natchez boobies that dove into the water whenever marlin pushed bait to the surface. Fly fishing for marlin is pretty new in the Galapagos but Javier is an expert and had the captain and crew performing admirably.

Chris is a master fly fisher and fly tier and developed some interesting flies that the marlin just couldn’t resist. Chris and I caught our fair share of stripes, but Jen caught her first two billfish on a fly rod and both were over 200 pounds. Rhona was our back-up “catcher” and released eight stripes on spinning rods. She released the biggest fish of the trip . . . well over 250 pounds. In all we raised 113 striped marlin and one 400-pound blue marlin during our four days on the water. We missed out on the mahi and tuna bites but that’s always the risk of trolling baits without hooks.

This is an amazing and relatively untapped marlin fishery that has all the creature comforts needed for a great vacation at a reasonable price.

The author with a typical Galapagos striped marlin.

The boat was surprisingly comfortable and effective, despite having been built locally and powered by three outboards.

Tease baits and no hooks. Ballyhoo have to be sewn tight to prevent the marlin from tearing it up.

Boobies can dive 30 feet deep, chasing bait the marlin push to the surface.

Marine iguanas are everywhere and are the only lizards that can live in saltwater. They eat the marine algae around the rocks.

Chris shows off the flies he designed for the Galapagos marlin. They have a lead lip that causes then to sink quickly. The outboard’s created a lot of prop-wash and the sinking fly seemed to be more effective than poppers.

Jen Lalli with her first billfish on a fly rod.

Sunset from our hotel balcony, about a hundred yards from the dock.

I’m holding one of Chris’ marlin, which is not easy to do.

Everyone celebrates a marlin release.

There are lots of good restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel.

The Galapagos Sunset Hotel—one of several places Javier uses to house his anglers. All are excellent and included in the trip package.

Pat Ford
Pat Ford honed his sports photography skills at Notre Dame. His first article for Saltwater Sportsman appeared in 1969, and he has shot and written for every major fishing publication since that time. He has held more than two dozen IGFA line class records and now, as a retired Miami trial attorney, spends his time writing books and traveling to exotic locales. See more of his work at