12-year-old Elizabeth Arn of PCB lands massive marlin for pending world record off Africa

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

They traveled more than 4,000 miles to do it, but they got their fish – a pending world record blue marlin. 

Around the end of May, Jonathan Arn and his 12-year-old daughter Elizabeth of Panama City Beach chartered the Dacia, a 43-foot G&S Boat captained by Destin’s Randy Baker, at Cape Verde off of Africa with full intentions of catching a world record blue marlin. 

And on May 31, it was mission accomplished as the 5-foot young girl reeled in a 624-pound blue marlin. 

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Along for the trip in addition to the Arns were first mate Stephen Hall of North Carolina, second mate Chase Travers of Virginia and Capt. Scott Murie of Destin, who served as gaff man. 

Elizabeth Arn, 12, is in the fighting chair aboard the Dacia. She reeled in the 624-pound blue marlin in less than an hour.

“Great experience,” said Elizabeth, who will be in the seventh grade at Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City next year. “I was very nervous every time Steve would take the leader. I was afraid the leader would break or the hook would come out.”

Although she may have been nervous, Murie the gaff man said “she was really calm” and a “pleasure to take along.” 

Murie, a fisherman by trade said, “I’m usually telling you wind, wind, wind … and this little girl, you’re not having to tell her that. It’s her passion. She’s just incredible.” 

And Elizabeth, who has now caught 26 blue marlin, admits she likes “everything” about fishing. “I like the boats, the travel, the fishing, scenery.” 

This time the journey took a couple of days to get to their destination. They traveled from Panama City Beach to Miami where they met up with the rest of the crew, then everyone flew to Lisbon, Portugal, and finally off to Cape Verde off the coast of Africa. 

“We traveled to West Africa, Cape Verde specifically, to fish for the Female IGFA Junior Angler Record,” said her dad, Jonathan. 

“Marlin fishing has always been a passion of mine,” Jonathan said and the eastern Atlantic Islands are a mecca for Atlantic blue marlin fishing. “If you really like fishing for blue marlin, you will eventually travel to the Eastern Atlantic. It’s a journey to get there, but every time you leave the dock you have a chance to catch a fish exceeding 1,000 pounds.”

The Dacia, with Capt. Randy Baker at the helm, brought back this 624-pound blue marlin, a pending world record. The crew from left are second mate Chase Travers, Capt. Baker, angler Elizabeth Arn and her father Jonathan Arn. Kneeling from left are gaff man Scott Murie and first mate Stephen Hall.

On this trip, they fished five days total and two days they didn’t raise a fish. But during the other three days they raised 13 blue marlins, six over 500 pounds, and caught a total of four, including the pending record fish. 

“This is actually mediocre fishing by Cape Verde standards,” Jonathan said. 

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As for the pending record fish, she landed it in about 30 minutes on #80 chair tackle using a local caught extra-large horse ballyhoo for bait. 

“Elizabeth did an outstanding job pushing the drag up to 25 pounds to ensure the fish is hooked solid, then backing off the drag and taking the rod and transferring it into the fighting chair," Jonathan said. "This was one of the most challenging parts of catching the fish, no one could assist Elizabeth during the fight. If any of the crew had touched the rod and reel or line during the hookup or fight the catch would have been disqualified by IGFA regulations.”

Elizabeth Arn, a 5-foot tall, 12-year-old from Panama City Beach, landed this 624-pound blue marlin while fishing off Africa. The catch is a pending world record.

The marlin jumped a few times and fought in the upper water column. 

“It put on quite a show, especially close to the boat,” Murie said. 

Jonathan said Capt. Baker’s boat driving skills, along with Hall's expert wiring skills, the fish was captured in a relative short period of time.  

“Actually, I’ve had smaller fish that have fought much harder,” Elizabeth said. “This fish never dived deep; it wasn’t a real difficult fish.” 

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When it was all said and done, Elizabeth said her arms and legs hurt, but mostly her legs from the fight. The blue marlin measured 115 inches from the jaw to the fork of the tail and had a 62-inch girth. 

“We weighed the fish, then went back out fishing,” Jonathan said, noting the fishing grounds are only about eight miles from the dock. 

Elizabeth Arn, 12, lays down beside the massive blue marlin just to get a true picture as to how much bigger the fish is than she.

As for the fish, they gave it to the locals and kept the bill with plans to have it mounted. The paperwork for the pending world record has been filed with the IGFA and will have to be reviewed and approved before becoming official. 

For the record:  

•The Dacia, which was built in Destin by G&S Boats, is just one of four G&S Boats fishing in Cape Verde. The Hooker, Deceiver and Gladius are all fishing in that area. 

“It’s amazing. Of all the boats over there, there were four G&S Boats within 100 yards of one another,” Murie said. 

•The current Female IGFA Junior Angler Record holder is Destin’s Jordan McCullough. In May of 2003, she hauled in a 549 pounder while fishing off Ghana. 

“Two little girls from the Panhandle about 40 miles apart, breaking each other's record is weird,” Murie said.