Fish Stories: Rolling Strikes

Want to up your chances of catching big blue marlin?

February 13, 2007

_ Try pulling a bowling pin – the real thing, not those knockoff teasers marketed under the same name._

  • Step 1: Find a bowling pin. My local alley was happy to provide a few old ones, free of charge. You can also get one from eBay for a buck or two.
  • Step 2: Cut a 30-degree angle across the bottom of the pin. A sharp blade is necessary because real pins are made of hard maple wood.
  • Step 3: Drill a pilot hole in the center, and insert a screw eye.
  • Step 4: Spray paint the pin with your favorite tuna-like color pattern.

Does it work, you ask? As a test, I built one and pulled it religiously during the granddaddy of all marlin tournaments, the White Marlin Open. The bowling pin raised two blue marlin during three days of fishing, both of which fell for the bait-and-switch technique using large ballyhoo. The blue you see here weighed about 350 pounds. The fish’s interest shouldn’t be surprising – 64 percent of a blue marlin’s diet comes from tuna, according to the Marlin Project, conducted by the University of Rio de Janeiro. But billfish weren’t the only fish to pine for my pin. We also spotted yellowfin tuna under the teaser before they attacked ballyhoo on the short rigger and flat lines. One was large enough to win the dock Calcutta, which netted us enough cash to build a lifetime’s supply of bowling pin teasers.


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