John's Journal...

Mississippi’s Captain Jimmy Taylor Tells Us How to Catch Marlin

Day 2: Captain Jimmy Taylor Explains What Else to Do When a Marlin Attacks Your Bait

Editor’s Note: Captain Jimmy Taylor of Biloxi, Mississippi, lacks one billfish, the swordfish, to have caught every species of billfishes in the world and qualify for the IGFA Billfish Royal Slam that recognizes anglers who have caught nine billfish species, the Atlantic and Pacific sailfish, the Atlantic and the Pacific blue marlin, the black marlin, the striped marlin, the white marlin, the swordfish and the spearfish. He’s won two Grand Slam Jupiter Billfish Tournaments and finished 4th in the 2010 World Billfish Series Tournament, competing against more than 10,000 anglers. Taylor’s team of fishermen collectively has caught and released more than 1,800 billfishes in the last 8 years. Although Taylor has tournament-billfished for 15 years, he’s only been billfishing seriously for the last 6 years. Today, he fishes out of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“When the marlin attacks the bait, disengage the reel, and let the bait fall on a slack line,” Taylor emphasizes. “If the marlin takes the bait on a slack line, and you engage the reel and start to wind-down on the marlin, the circle hook will come-up and lodge in the corner of the marlin’s mouth. Then, you’ll usually have a much-better hook set and be far-less likely to lose the marlin. Once that circle hook is in the corner of the marlin’s mouth, most of the time that hook won’t come out. When you learn to fish with a circle hook, your hook-up rate will improve dramatically. Another advantage to using the circle hook is that once you get the hook set on a marlin, you actually can turn the boat around and chase the marlin with the boat. If you try that same tactic when fishing with a J hook, the hook generally will fall-out of the marlin’s mouth. After you’ve hooked the marlin, most captains will back-down on the fish, making it easier to land. However, we’ve learned that when fishing with the circle hook, turning the boat around and running to the marlin, instead of backing-down, enables us to reach the marlin much quicker. Since the bow of the boat is pointed and breaks the waves better than the stern does, running to the marlin reduces the time required to land it. Once we get close to the marlin, then we can back-down on it.”
Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIn only a few tournaments can you bring-in marlin. Most tournaments encourage releasing the marlin back into the water. If you’re fishing a tournament where you’re allowed to bring-in marlin, Taylor recommends you use a flying gaff, which has a big hook on its end. Once the marlin’s gaffed, the hook comes out of the pole with a heavy rope tied to it. The rope is tied onto either a fighting chair or a cleft on the boat. Then when you’ve got the marlin on the flying gaff, reel it in as soon as possible to prevent a shark from biting it or from hitting it with the propeller of the boat. A 1,000-pound marlin was caught in the 2010 World Billfish Series Championship, but it was disqualified, because the boat had backed-over the marlin and cut a 50-pound chunk of meat out of it.
“Remember that most of the time marlin hunt in packs,” Taylor explains. “We’ve had as many as four white marlin on four-different rods at the same time. When any member of the team has a marlin on the line, the anglers who don’t have fish on their rods help by moving all the rods without fish out of the way.”

To fish with Jimmy Taylor, call him at 228-617-7441 or email

Fishing Mississpiip's Gulf CoastTo learn more about fishing for many species at Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, click here for “Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast: And Visitor’s Guide”, a new eBook for Amazon Kindle by John E. Phillips. Or, you can go to and type-in the name of the book to find it. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Tomorrow: Strategies for fishing for Mississippi Marlin with Captain Jimmy Taylor

Check back each day this week for more about "Mississippi’s Captain Jimmy Taylor Tells Us How to Catch Marlin"

Day 1: How to Fish for and Catch a Marlin with Mississippi’s Captain Jimmy Taylor
Day 2: Captain Jimmy Taylor Explains What Else to Do When a Marlin Attacks Your Bait
Day 3: Strategies for fishing for Mississippi Marlin with Captain Jimmy Taylor
Day 4: Mississippi’s Captain Jimmy Taylor Explains Fighting and Releasing Marlin
Day 5: What Billfish Wars Has Jimmy Taylor Seen

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Entry 672, Day 2