Known for its striking appearance and a hefty dog fight, the marlin is the undisputed king when it comes to trophy deep-sea sport fishing. Found throughout the globe, marlin comes in white, black, blue, and striped variations with some even found here in the US. From the east coast, west coast, and the gulf coast, the elusive marlin is everywhere. But, knowing the specifics on where to snag one of these dream catches is an entirely different story. Here’s a breakdown of the best places to target marlin.


1. San Diego, California

Blue marlin can be found on the Pacific coast. But the major draw for anglers is the striped marlin, here. This variation of marlin heads towards San Diego around September to October. Want one for yourself?  Track down schools of mackerel, tuna, or sardines, and striped marlin are sure to not be too far behind. With such a large appetite, these fish can pack on the pounds, 300 to 400 pounds, that is.  When it comes to fishing outside of San Diego, marlin can be caught in as little as 45 minutes from shore. Which makes it a desirable location for short charters or fishing trips.


2. Key West, Florida

white and blue boat on sea during daytime

Image credits: Shelby Cohron via Unsplash

Key West is every angler’s dream playground. With over 600 species just a cast away, you can say fishing is never dull. In the case of sports fish and the Florida Keys, blue marlin and white marlin are the most desired. Moreover, these fish are drawn to the Keys for its temperate waters and limitless quantity of mackerel and tuna, which they feast on. With such a healthy hatchery, novice and professional anglers hit up Key West for the Key West Marlin Tournament, which has been around for 40 years. Oh, and did you know Ernest Hemingway fished marlin in the Florida Keys?


3. Ocean City, Maryland

A great oceanfront tourist town, Ocean City should not be overlooked for its white marlin fishing potential. Each year, countless anglers descend on Ocean City for the Marlin Open Tournament in August. You see, white marlin migrates to colder water during the warmer months and congregates in abundance around Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts. In fact, there are so many fish that Ocean City has been named the unofficial “White Marlin Capital of the World.” As for the 2022 tournament, one angler caught a white marlin worth $4.5 million. As such, this 77.5-pound fish broke a world record for the single highest fish payout. 


4. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

white and blue boat on sea during daytime

Image credits: Gene Gallin via Unsplash

Another hot spot for blue and white marlin, the Outer Banks of North Carolina have long been a go-to destination for marlin. Along with an abundance of baitfish, why fishing is so plentiful comes from the close proximity to the Gulf Stream. Some may argue that there’s no better deep-sea fishing than around the Outer Banks island chain, where Cape Hatteras is situated. And, like many destinations on this list, the Hatteras Blue Marlin Club hosts an invitation tournament each June. 


5. US Virgin Islands

Want to catch a marlin in paradise?  Consider a trip to the US Virgin Islands. The US Virgin Islands, or USVI, are revered internationally as a haven for blue marlin. Check out the infamous North Drop along the Puerto Rican Trench, or fish off the coast from St. Thomas. Blue marlin, around the USVI, is known for strength and size, with catches averaging between 300 and 500 pounds. If you are serious about catching big fish, then spare no expenses and take an unforgettable trip to the USVI.


6. Big Island, Hawaii

rocky seashore under golden sun

Image credits: Alex Rhee via Unsplash

No marlin fishing list would be complete without the mention of the Aloha State of Hawaii. When it comes to the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona is the “Blue Marlin Capital of the World.” The Kona Coast is bountiful in blue marlin, with the record state reaching over 1,800 pounds. It shouldn’t go without mentioning that fishing is remarkable all year round. Other commonly caught sports fish are; yellowfin tuna, spearfish, and wahoo. But, don’t worry about grabbing a charter, there are hundreds of charters available on the Big Island.


A Final Thought

Marlin can bring an adrenaline-pumping experience to even the most seasoned angler. Capable of reaching high speeds, these monsters will put on an aerobatic show as they lunge for the bait. Then you know it’s “fish on” and time to wrestle with this monster of the deep. When preparing for a marlin trip, seasonality is everything. Since these fish are migratory and spend most of their time in the deep sea, marlin will venture where there are warm ocean currents. Mackerel and tuna are good signs for food and work as preferred bait fish among anglers. But the only way to catch one is to go and wrangle one for yourself.