An angler was speared by a billfish in the White Marlin Open, this Monday. Offshore fishing expert John Unkart, author of the how-to fishing book Offshore Pursuit  (  took a bill in his leg while 60 miles offshore, mating on the sport fishing vessel Playmate for the tournament.

“We were in five foot seas,” John said, “and we needed to boat the marlin to measure it and see if it would be a contender in the tournament. Unfortunately, as I pulled it up on the gunwale the fish kicked, and drove its bill right into my leg.”

The wound required six stitches to close up, and Unkart spent the evening at the emergency room. Yet he was back onboard and ready to fish, at 5:00 AM sharp on Tuesday morning. “I’m taking today off,” he said on Wednesday morning, “and yes, the leg is very sore. Luckily it looks like Friday will be the next fishing day for us (boats fish three out of five days of the tournament). With a grander blue marlin and a 97.5 pound white caught yesterday we have a high bar to reach, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

 This is not Unkart’s first close encounter with a billfish that became too close for comfort. Last season he was speared in the other leg. When asked how he made it through 40 years of offshore fishing without such an incident – only to be speared twice in as many years - Unkart said “I must be getting old.”

white marlin open tournament angler speared by billfish

Speared by a billfish in the White Marlin Open, Unkart gives a thumbs-down but keeps a smile on his face.