The top 2012 Atlantic Blue Marlin tagging captain speaks about his record-breaking season. By Chris Agardy Fishing out of the port of Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands, Captain Zak Conde and crew experienced a record breaking 2012 fishing season. Fishing aboard the 36-foot Bertram "Amelia", Zak and his crew released 329 blue marlin during an 8 month season, almost certainly setting a single-season world record for blue marlin releases. The previous record, also set in Cape Verdean waters several years ago, was 297 releases by Captain Dave Nolhigan. Fishtrack recently spoke to Zak about his crew's remarkable achievement and insights he has gleaned from years spent fishing some of the most fertile waters on the planet. • Where were you born and raised? I was born and raised in the town of Horta, the premier spot for blue marlin fishing in the Azores. • How many days a year do you spend on the water fishing for marlin and other big game species? We fish for blue marlin at least 150 days a year. • Who introduced you to big game fishing? My good friend Captain Les Gallagher used to eat at the restaurant where I worked when I was 19 years old. I always asked him if there were any jobs available on his fishing boat, and eventually he said yes. The rest is history. • How do you choose between using live-bait and trolling artificial lures for billfish? I prefer to use live bait for marlin when I find large schools of baitfish holding above bottom structure. • Does lure color play a major role in determining your spread while targeting billfish? I always like to use dark colored lures when targeting big marlin. • What else affects fishing for marlin? The moon phase can affect marlin fishing in areas where there are considerable tide changes. A full or new moon creates stronger tides, which can trigger a strong marlin bite. In Cape Verde, the marlin go deeper in the water column during the full moon. " I like to let a marlin run with a live bait for about 30ft before setting the hook." • When a big blue is hooked up, do you like to keep the boat moving forward, or back down to follow the fish immediately after the bite? Regardless of the size of marlin on the line, I like to back down and turn towards the fish as soon as possible. If we have a big girl on the line that we plan on taking, we will back off on the drag and take extra time to tire the fish. • Does water temperature play a an important role while targeting billfish? Yes, sea surface temperature is very important while marlin fishing. Marlin prefer water temperatures around 25 degrees celsius (77 degrees farenheit) in the Cape Verde islands. • Do you prefer to use monofilament or braid for your main line? I use Dacron with a monofilament top shot. • How long is the drop back while trying to hook a marlin on live bait? I like to let a marlin run with a live bait for about 30ft before setting the hook. Obviously there is no need to use a drop back when using lures. • When releasing a large blue marlin, what is the safest way to remove the hook from its mouth while next to the boat? Regardless of the size of a marlin, they can give you a hard time next to the boat. When using a single rig, I like to use my hands to remove the hook, but it is better to use a hook remover when using double hook rig • Are there certain signs that indicate that billfish might be in the area? Yes, the main signs I look for are bait and current. After a couple passes through an area, we usually know if there will be marlin around.

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