When the Downs family of Virginia Beach came back from their fishing trip on Sunday, they all agreed that it was the best time they’ve ever had on the water. Catching nearly 50 white marlin will have that effect, with a beaming Jayme Downs calling the trip simply “remarkable.” According to The Virginian-Pilot, Jayme and four other members of her family were fishing with Captain Pat Foster when they caught and released 49 marlin. It was an exhausting feat that ended up with Foster’s boat, the Waverunner III, holding 49 flapping marlin flags before sundown.
Incredibly, the Sunday haul managed to fall short of the unofficial record for most catches in a day. That honor still belongs to the crew and anglers of the Maryland charter boat Billfisher, who caught a whopping 57 white marlin in 2010. The Billfisher operates out of Ocean City, which is renowned as the white marlin capital of the world. Every year the city hosts one of the globe’s largest marlin fishing tournaments, the White Marlin Open. Drawing thousands of anglers and awarding millions in prizes, the tournament encourages fierce competition but also conservation-minded catch-and-release rules to ensure a healthy marlin population. With such high stakes, it is no wonder that some of Ocean City’s charters hold world records.
Still, the Downs were not out to set a record. The plan was to have fun, and save for a little more excitement than they bartered for, it was a complete success.
“It was awesome,” said Jayme, a veteran saltwater angler. “It was the best time I’ve ever had fishing.”
The anglers are reasonably proud of their accomplishments, so it came as a surprise when they found that they had critics. This was due to the fact that only four of the marlin caught on Sunday were from trolling, the rest were hooked through the use of bait balls and pitching. The Virginian-Pilot reports that regional anglers much prefer trolling when fishing for marlin, and as a result some have called the Downs “cheaters.”
“The naysayers have me scratching my head,” Foster said. “We weren’t in a tournament, and we were never in anybody else’s way. We were just trying to show our customers a good time, and we did.”
Their methods have not stopped other marlin anglers from praising the Downs, however. Marlin Magazine posted the picture of the Waverunner III covered in flags on their Facebook and commented “that’s almost a sailboat!”