Fishing is a three-generation sport for Clearwater, Florida's Bobby Jacobsen. His father introduced him and he in turn initiated his sons. Now, with a new boat 60' Viking and a BBC tournament win, Jacobsen's Team Marlin Darlin, is poised for even greater fishing feats.
"My dad bottom fished and I'd head out and fish with him as a kid," he says.
Jacobsen's billfishing career started in 1985, when he signed up for an offshore tournament off Clearwater and caught a 457-pound blue marlin.
"There's nothing like catching a blue marlin," he says. "The bite. The jump. The fight."
Jacobsen fished for three to four years off Clearwater, then started heading to the Bahamas in the late 1980's where his team finished 5th at the Bertram/Hatteras Shootout at Walkers' Cay in 1987.
Since 2002, Jacobsen, who owns a mobile home manufacturing business, has fished in tournament with his two sons, Beecher and Colby, with Capt. Patrick Brogan at the helm of Marlin Darlin.
"Typically, we'll run 30-pound test on the two long lines and two flat lines and 50-pound on the two short lines. We're always have an 80 in the pit on the ready," he says. "I love pitch baiting. It's awesome to see the bite so close."
Jacobsen says a switch from lure to dead baits has proven to produce better strikes by bigger fish.
The effort has paid off most recently with a win at the Bahamas Billfish Championship's (BBC) first-ever tournament at Cape Eleuthera, leg three of the five leg series. Jacobsen led the Marlin Darlin team to victory by catching and releasing four blue marlin, including the first blue of the tournament.
Then, at the BBC's Boat Harbour Championship, leg four, Jacobsen hooked up and caught a 630-pound blue marlin.
"We didn't have any bites all day when around 3 p.m. I saw something coming up on the left short, which was rigged with a dead ballyhoo and soft head chugger. I grabbed the rod and a big blue came up and ate the bait," Jacobsen describes. "It was a 2 1/2 hour fight on 50, slow going, before we made the gaff. Lines were out at 4 p.m. and we were still fighting after that, so there was a huge crowd on the dock waiting for us when we came in."
That was the first day of the tournament and the rest of the fleet gunned for Marlin Darlin after that. The team ultimately finished third in the 43-boat pack, with the release of another blue and a white, with a second place overall in the 2009 BBC.
Jacobsen is no stranger to catching big fish and lots of fish.
He's caught an 800-pound-plus black marlin in Australia and released seven blues in one day while fishing in Venezuela.
His best fish story, or stories as it is, is about the many experiences he and his team had while fishing in and winning the BXRL Series two years ago.
"What I liked best," Jacobsen says, "Was moving around. Fishing in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, St. Martin, Puerto Rico. It was great. We liked the cameras because we like to have fun and it's nice to share that excitement on TV."
Photo below: Richard Gibson
Jacobsen also didn't mind the $700,000 in prize money added to his sports fishing kitty.
Of course, what makes fishing really fun is a new boat.
Jacobsen took delivery of his 60' Viking earlier this year.
"Its an incredible boat," he says. "She's powered by twin Cat 1820 hp diesels that allows us to drive at 35 knots. We partially customized the interior. There are four staterooms, a big icemaker and bait storage in the mezzanine.
Looking ahead, Jacobsen plans for fishing next year are akin to this year. That is, starting out sail fishing in Mexico mid-January, then heading to the Bahamas for the BBC, before fishing St. Thomas - and the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament - Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for the summer. Thanksgiving will see Marlin Darlin at Chub Cay back in the Bahamas.
"I see the sports fishing industry rebounding along with the economy," Jacobsen says. "Conservation measures have increased fish stocks, so the future looks bright."