46th Annual Bluewater Tournament

Northeast Florida Marlin Association

Past, Present and Future

March 11, 2018


Consider the brave fools who ventured into the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream in Northeast Florida in the early 1970’s in their slow, stinky diesel powered boats with a compass, VHF radio and a bucket of local netted mullet for baits.  The paper charts only suggested where the continental shelf began, depth finders and loran beacons were little help and you checked the water temperature with your hands.  Who knows if it was the stories written by Hemmingway or the reports of Marin and Sailfish from the Bahamas and South Florida that inspired these men to seek the elusive Billfish in Northeast Florida or just a natural sense of adventure that pulled these men to the sea, but a few strong minded men did go fishing and they did find those trophy billfish and the Northeast Florida Marlin Association was born.  By 1980’s the association had grown from the original fifteen member to sixty and by the early 1990’s they had to limit their membership to the first one hundred owners/captains and waiting lists were formed for new and associate members.

The fishing was great in the 1980’s and ‘90’s and trophy catches did hit the docks including the standing record Yellowfin Tuna at 208 pounds by John Powers in 1997 and the 640 lbs Blue Marlin captured by Harry Graves.  The secret back then was sharing the valuable knowledge they gained on each and every trip and learning from the successes and failures.  So the club became more than a sporting club, it became a family club where monthly meetings were “pot-luck” dinners and dock parties brought crowds to the docks where some beautiful and amazing new fishing vessels began to appear.

The Marlin Association will host its 46th annual Bluewater Tournament this April and most of the “Old Salts” don’t fish as much as they used to, so a new generation of brave fools will venture into the deep in amazing, super-fast, high-powered center console boats with radars, satellites and more electronics than the NASA spacecraft of those days.  Now our Captains have video charts that provide precise color mapping of the ledge, sea surface temperature images created by satellites and beautiful shiny baits flown in from Miami.   Plus we have social media to help us share our catches in short videos and our fishing stories in tweets and posts.  And the fishing is still great and the Northeast Florida Marlin Association is still more than just a sporting club.  The secret today is still sharing the valuable information that the members gain on each and every trip and it’s learning which tactics and tackle is working and it’s having a place where families can share the experiences and the stories in real life.  Dock parties are different these days because trailered boats don’t offer the same comforts as the old Sport Fishers, so the Marlin Club is hosting seminars in its St Augustine Clubhouse, from local experts, gear manufacturers and legends of the sport.  The tournaments are customized to allow special opportunities for juniors, ladies and special species and they are schedule about once a month as the active species change off of the First Coast.   This year’s new tournament format will offer more opportunities than ever to compete for cash, trophies and bragging rights.  The dock parties now are catered events with live music, raffles and prizes.  The Marlin association has lost some of its legendary captains of the past but the captains and the crews of today are building their own legendary experiences for the future.  Contact us for membership information.

Paul Raudenbush – President Northeast Florida Marlin Association

clubnefma@gmail.com,   www.clubnefma.com  or  www.facebook.com/clubnefma