Bahamas Outdoor Notables: Dave Albury–Bahamas blue marlin record holder

“From the beginning I dreamed about catching a blue marlin, fighting it and bringing it to the boat. Now I know that dreams do come true.” DAVE ALBURY.

Dave Albury, from Man-O-War Cay, Abaco, Bahamas, caught a new Bahamian record blue marlin during Leg 5 (Treasure Cay) of the Bahamas Billfish Championship (BBC) as a member of the “Double Dog” Team. This is the first time the record has been held by a Bahamian. Coastal Angler Magazine-Flahama had a chance to catch up with Dave, get to know him and hear his thoughts on this sportfishing accomplishment.

CAM: Dave, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I grew up and was schooled on Man-O-War Cay, Abaco. At around 15 years old, I started commercial lobster fishing with a boat based out of Marsh Harbour. She was a 70 foot Defender. We would be at sea for two to three weeks at a stretch. I fished commercially until the boat was sold; I was about 26 years old. I’m also an avid diver (free and SCUBA). Being on or under the sea has always been very special to me. Every experience is different. During the off-season, I worked with my uncle who was a carpenter and over the course of 5 years built my house. After the boat sold, I worked as an electrician. My wife Madeline and I have two sons, Micah, 8 years old and Eli, who is 3.

CAM: Did you do any sportfishing before you became a member of the Double Dog Team?

No, the only fishing that I did was traditional Bahamian hand line fishing or spear fishing.

CAM: How did you get involved with sportfishing and Double Dog?

Around 2003/2004, I connected with Don McKinney, who has a home on Man-O-War, and I became the manager and caretaker of his property. Not long after that,the Double Dog Team was fishing in the BBC and an angler who was supposed to fish the tournament at Don’s invitation could not make it. Don asked if I would substitute for the angler. I agreed, but when I stepped onto the boat for the first time my impression was that it was complicated and scary. I had never fished with a rod and reel before! Well, on the second day of the tournament, I caught not one but two blue marlin. Then on the last day of the tournament I caught two more! Like the recent Treasure Cay tournament, it was the last leg of the BBC and my catches contributed to Double Dog placing 4th overall for that year. I guess I earned my place on the team for which I am very grateful.

New Bahamas blue marlin record holder Dave Albury (center) with Team Double Dog.

CAM: Dave, in preparation for this article, we asked Mr. McKinney what he thought contributed to Double Dog’s success. Here is what he said:

“Dave Albury, my Captain Jason Parker and the crew are family. We play together, work together and fish together. I figured out that to win tournaments you cannot invite “friends” to come and fish a single tournament as they will not be sharp no matter how much they fish. In our case, the entire crew went to Mexico to fish for sailfish to improve our fishing skills. On this trip to Mexico, we released 220 sailfish in 9 days of fishing. Dave caught his share of the 220 so that when the opportunity presented itself to the team, the team member having the opportunity to sit in the chair and fight the fish, would be able to perform as flawlessly as possible. Dave did that. As in all team sports, the more you play and work together, the better your chances for a top performance as a team.”

CAM: Don seems quite committed to team spirit and team work. Is this a winning formula?

Absolutely, not only is there team spirit and team work, there is team think. We are accustomed to working together as a team for the team. We know how everyone will act and react without even speaking. And yes, practice improves performance.

CAM: You have been involved in sportfishing for a relatively short time. As a Bahamian, do you truly enjoy sportfishing on the tournament level, not to mention being on a tournament winning team and catching a Bahamian record fish?

Without question, it was intimidating and scary at first as I mentioned, but with practice and knowledge I am living my dream. From the beginning I dreamed about catching a blue marlin, fighting it and bringing it to the boat. Now I know that dreams do come true. You just can’t catch a blue marlin on a hand line! This opportunity has opened my eyes to great adventure and I have learned new fishing skills.

CAM: A lot has been written about the record catch, tell us some things about that afternoon that perhaps is a little more from a personal perspective.

On Friday, after a slow morning, we were having lunch and Don said I had to catch a marlin. I kept feeling that “my dream would come true” and I promised him I would, and even told him it would be caught on the left side of the boat. No more than two hours later, a big blue appeared in the spread, then it disappeared. The team switched to heavier gear and Don pitched a large bait. I kept praying that she would come back and just knew she would. Suddenly, there she was taking the bait on the left short. I grabbed the rod. The way she fought I knew that she was a big fish, but how big?

Despite my efforts there was no stopping her. After about 40 minutes, she finally surfaced and shook her head. I kept praying that she would not throw the hook. Over three hours later, when the fish was finally brought to the stern, there was no doubt that she was big, maybe 900 to 1,000 pounds but not a record! There was no need to measure the length, she was big! Then the work of getting her into the boat began. From the point of the lower jaw to the fork in the tails she was 129-3/4 inches and her girth was 80 inches.

The other thing we were all praying for was that sharks would not take a bite and disqualify the catch or potential record.

It was pretty amazing when it was all over. I guess I fulfilled my promise to Don and the team. Sometimes it still feels like a dream.

CAM: Has being the new record holder and a Bahamian changed your life in anyway?

No it has not. After catching the fish and it was noted as a record, many friends, second homeowners and acquaintances certainly congratulated me and the team on the success and were happy for me. I could detect from some a twinge of jealousy perhaps at my accomplishment and “luck.” For me, it is really sort of cool and I am happy for the team. It is a very nice feeling to know that my name is attached to the record, but it really was a team accomplishment.

As time passes, I appreciate what actually transpired more and more. What I had only dreamed about actually happened in a way I could never have imagined. I am proud of course, that a citizen of the Bahamas holds the record, and I share the recognition with all Bahamians. Change me, no. It just makes me more grateful for the opportunities I have been given.

CAM: In your opinion are more Bahamians considering taking up sportfishing as a form of recreation?

Certainly there have been many commercial fishermen who have learned and adapted their fishing skills to offer great offshore charter fishing to visitors to the Bahamas. Also, there are a large number of expert Bahamian inshore/flats guides throughout the country, as well as fishing lodges that provide great fishing adventures. However, I now have friends who are asking me to teach them about sportfishing. I believe that over time there will be a growing number of Bahamians who will want to learn the sport, in addition to knowing the traditional Bahamian fishing methods. With so many sport fishermen coming to the Bahamas, many great tournaments from one end of the country to the other, and lots of local tournaments, I believe that there will be a steady growth of Bahamian interest in sport fishing as a great form of recreation and adventure.

CAM: In closing Dave, I have read some comments on websites that were not happy that such a majestic fish was killed. Do you want to share your thoughts?

I have to say that I have mixed emotions. I have caught and released many billfish in my time with Double Dog, as have many other recreational and tournament sport fishermen. The practice of catch and release is truly commendable for helping to protect and conserve billfish species. There was “over-the-top” excitement when it appeared that we had a record blue. A record is a record. After sharing a world class battle, and winning, there was joy. Upon seeing her die, there was remorse for such a majestic fish which happens to be one of our national symbols. She lived a noble life and only God knows how many offspring she gave to the sea in her lifetime. She ultimately gave her life for the sport that has proven valuable to the economy of the Bahamas.

Unlike so many grouper, snapper and other creatures of the sea that we take regularly for sustenance, she was destined to continue to bring distinction to the Bahamas as a world class sportfishing destination.

CAM: Dave, in closing is there anything else you would like to add?

Not really. It has all been covered pretty well. I just want to say again how grateful I am for the opportunity Don has provided me to fish with his team. It truly has been a dream opportunity. I would have never thought that from the moment I stepped onto the boat and fished my first tournament that someday I would be representing the Bahamas as the blue marlin record holder. Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers.

Editor’s Note: The previous Bahamas blue marlin record was 1060.5 pounds established by Sam Jennings of Miami, Florida in 1979 while fishing another Bahamas Billfish Championship tournament, the Bimini Summer Blue Marlin Tournament. According to BBC president Al Behrendt, “All of the blue marlin over 900 pounds caught in the Bahamas have been caught during BBC tournaments.”