Florida’s Bri Andrassy could be the first woman to land a marlin from a kayak. After a four-and-a-half-hour battle, Andrassy grabbed the 200-pound striped marlin’s bill, muscled it to the side of the kayak and smiled for a photo. She calls her catch “the fight of my life” and “the prettiest fish I have ever seen.”
Marlin Fishing is a Family Tradition
For the college nursing professor, the accomplishment was the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. Growing up outside Philadelphia, Andrassy drew inspiration from a massive taxidermy sailfish, caught by her mom, mounted on a wall in the family home.
Andrassy remembers looking at the marlin and imagining a sleigh ride with a big billfish. Think of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Andrassy read the novel as a kid.
This short novel, already a modern classic, is the superbly told, tragic story of a Cuban fisherman in the Gulf Stream and the giant marlin he kills and loses—specifically referred to in the citation accompanying the author’s Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.
Like her mother’s catch inspired her, Andrassy hopes her success will prompt others to embrace fishing adventure. This is not her first rodeo. Andrassy is an accomplished surfer, diver and angler. She fishes from Jet Ski, boat, standup paddleboard and kayak. Andrassy is famous for dragging an inflatable platform into the backcountry, setting up a tent and using it as home base for extended flats fishing missions. She posts outdoor videos on her YouTube channel and she’s filming a cable TV show.
Grinding Far and Wide to Land a Marlin
Andrassy’s big catch didn’t come easy. Before her trip to Magdalena Bay, Andrassy spent several days in Panama fishing for black marlin. She did not catch a one.
After her unsuccessful trip, Andrassy hit the Internet in search of billfish. That’s how she learned about Mexico’s Magdalena Bay halfway down the Baja peninsula. The area is famous for striped marlin, so Andrassy decided to give it a try. Andrassy loaded her Hobie Pro Angler on a panga and a local guide ran her 30 miles offshore.
Immediately after dropping her boat in the water, she felt a tug on her bait. A marlin had gobbled the live mackerel dangling in the water. At first, Andrassy didn’t realize the fish had taken her bait. Then she clearly saw the steely blue marlin 15 feet away.
The marlin took off and the battle was on, with the six-foot fish breaking water in the distance, towing the kayak and stubbornly diving deep. Three times, the fish pulled out so much line Andrassy saw the bottom of the spool.
The harder Andrassy reeled, the deeper the marlin would go, forcing her to try to trick the fish to the surface by reeling very slowly; she calls the technique “finessing the fish to the boat.” The key was making sure the drag wasn’t too tight, especially when the marlin was close to the boat. The last thing she needed was the fish pulling over the kayak.
After four hours, with the fish at the side of the kayak, it was time to try to grab the leader and then the marlin’s bill. Her first try was a bust, as the fish was still somewhat frisky and started peeling drag again, prolonging the fight another 30 minutes.
Four-hour Fight Tests Angler’s Limits
With her back sore, hands bleeding and legs aching, Andrassy admits she started to wonder if she would be able to land the fish. On her second try, with the fish by the side of the boat, she was able to do it. The next step was removing the hook, taking a photo, reviving the marlin and watching it swim away.
After the smoke cleared, Andrassy was anxious to share the story with her mom. “It was just a special, special moment,” Andrassy says. She plans to make a replica of the marlin for her living room.
It’s possible this is the first time a woman has landed a marlin from a kayak. As always, it’s difficult to say, as there is no official listing of kayak angling accomplishments, though the press release issued after the catch suggested it might be the case.
When asked to weigh in on the question, Marlin Magazine Editor-In-Chief Sam White says, “As far as I know, she is the first and only one.”
Andrassy’s Striped Marlin is Just the Start
Andrassy pushes everyone to go for big fish, even if it is physically exhausting. She encourages anglers to identify a target species, learn the fish’s habitat and habits, then go for it.
“Every time I go out on the water there is always something new. It’s never the same thing twice,” she says.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 45. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
After a four-hour battle, Bri Andrassy becomes the first woman to catch a striped marlin from a kayak. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Bri Andrassy