Bob Osborn likes big fish. It's no wonder then that Osborn's best fish story is about big fish - a lot of big fish. But, it's not what you might think...
A couple of years ago, Osborn tells, "We were fishing for sailfish out of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, on the Hatterascal. Capt. John Bayliss was up on the bridge and all of a sudden, he stopped the boat and threw the gears into neutral. Then, he ran down the ladder, grabbed his swim fins, mask and underwater camera and dove into the water. The whole time I'm asking him, 'What is it John? What's down there'? He just answered 'You'll see.'"
Sure enough, he continues, "I put on my snorkel gear and jumped in the water too, right into a pod of 50 to 60 whale sharks. I grabbed one of their dorsal fins and Bayliss got me on film taking a ride. I'll tell you, these things are 30 to 40 feet in length and next to them you feel so insignificant. It was an incredible experience."
Born in the landlocked state of Nevada, Osborn soon after moved to Southern California where he got his fishing start angling for albacore tuna. He moved to Florida in 1970, bought a house on the water in Ft. Lauderdale and parked his 13-foot Boston Whaler right outside.
It was Walker's Cay, in the Bahamas, where Osborn caught his first blue marlin. "That was back in 1991 and now I have over 100 blue marlin releases to my credit," he says.
Continuing he adds, "There's a real excitement to catching a blue marlin. It's a matter of having skill, and techniques like bait and switch where you can watch the bite right off the transom makes it even more exciting. Of course, I've learned a lot through the years from the good guys, guys like Jim Lambert and Capt. Eddie Herbert on the Reel Tight."
Osborn has enjoyed tournament fishing over the years.
"What I like about fishing a tournament is that it forces you to take time off work, and for yourself, to attend. Also, there's nothing like the camaraderie and friendship. Meeting people while fishing is so different than meeting for business or just casually. You really make a lot of good friends," he says.
Over the years, Osborn's tournament successes include a win at the Bertram-Hatteras Shoot-Out in 1995, top boat at the Penny Turtle Invitational Billfish Tournament in the Abacos in 1996, the largest fish award in the BBC's Boat Harbour Tournament in 1997 and Third Top Angler in the 2003 USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin (The Boy Scout) Tournament. Many of these tournaments he fished from his Hatteras 60, Bobalong.
"We've fished extensively off Florida, in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos and in St. Thomas during the summer for blue marlin," Osborn says.
Last summer, in the Boy Scout Tournament and fishing aboard One Too Many, Osborn fought an 800-pound-plus blue marlin for 1 hour and 40 minute. "Rick Alverez was on board and snapped a picture of me at 1 hour and 20 minutes. Whew! I was tired!"
In 2005, Osborn traveled through the Panama Canal on his 41-foot Express Cruiser, Uno Mas, to fish Piñas Bay in Panama and Los Sueños in Costa Rica. He liked it so much that he bought a home in Los Sueños.
"My best day was 27 for 35 on sails out of Isla Mujeres. We repeated this again in Los Sueños going 27 for 40 on sails," Osborn says.
He adds, "The best place for straight marlin fishing I've found is on the North Drop. For example, we went 7 for 13 there in one day over an October moon."
The waters south of Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic have a good bite that has just been discovered in the last few years, Osborn says. "The local fishermen put out flotsam, floating palm fronds, on the water and it really attracts the bait fish and ultimately the blue marlin."
In the future, Osborn would like to fish Madeira. "Guy Harvey is a friend and he's spoken to me about how good the fishing is there."
Fishing for Osborn has been a family affair he's shared with his children, and now grandchildren, for over 30 years. It's a sport he'd like to see continue.
"The future is circle hooks. It's ultimately the rig of choice and I believe in tournaments it will be required," he says. "Its certainly done well in the Pacific at increasing the fish stocks, that and the ban on long-lining."
Rick Alvarez Photos