662-pound blue marlin is largest caught off California in 84 years

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Matt Santora (left) and Capt. Andy Vo pose with 662.2-pound blue marlin. Photo: Finbomb

The extremely rare catch of a blue marlin Tuesday off Southern California became more exceptional when it tipped the scale at 662 pounds, 2 ounces, making it the heaviest blue marlin weighed off California since 1931.

Matt Santora landed the giant billfish after a 2-hour fight nine miles west of San Diego. It was brought aboard the yacht, Finbomb, with the help of Capt. Andy Vo, and weighed at the San Diego Marlin Club.

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Matt Santora (left) alongside his “fish of a lifetime.” Photo: Finbomb

“We were fishing for marlin and wahoo, especially marlin, when it hit the lure,” Santora told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “We had a good feeling we were going to get a marlin, and when it bit we knew it was a marlin. We just didn’t dream it was that big.”

The state record is a 692-pound blue marlin that was weighed at the Balboa Angling Club, on Balboa Island in Orange County, on Aug. 13, 1931.

Since then, only a handful of blue marlin have been caught off Southern California, because the species prefers tropical and subtropical waters, such as those off Hawaii and Mexico.

However, Southern California waters are unusually warm this summer, thanks to a powerful and still-developing El Niño, and lasting effects of a vast warm-water “blob” that became evident last spring and summer summer.

Water temperatures are 5 to 8 degrees above normal in some areas, and temperatures near 80 degrees have been recorded.

Anglers have been catching yellowfin tuna and mahimahi (dorado) all summer, with sporadic catches being made of wahoo (ono). All are tropical or subtropical species.

Many have tried to find blue marlin, but only a few have succeeded.

When Santora’s billfish was weighed on Shelter Island, a large crowd gathered to witness the spectacle.

“This is my fish of a lifetime,” said Santora, who planned to have the meat processed so he could share it with friends. “I fought it by myself with 45 pounds of drag. Andy drove, and when he wasn’t driving he fed me crackers and energy drinks. It was absolutely an epic experience.”

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