The 43-Foot Merritt Remains One of Sport Fishing's Most Celebrated Boats

2001-10-12 00:00:00.0 Is the 43-foot Merritt the finest fishing boat ever built? From a statistical standpoint, you could make a good argument for the claim. The 43-foot Merritt established more tuna-fishing records, won more tournaments and set more all-tackle marlin records possibly than any boat in history, which is pretty remarkable, considering only 12 were ever built.

The largest blue marlin ever caught on rod and reel in both oceans, as well as the heaviest blue marlin ever caught by a woman, were records held by Merritt boats. Until recently, Merritt boats held records for the most giant tuna ever caught in a single day, a record that stood for more than 20 years. At one time the 43-foot Merritt owned both the all-tackle Atlantic and Pacific blue marlin records. And no single model boat ever won as many tuna tournaments at Cat Cay as the 43-foot Merritt. The boat, the fishermen and captains who spun them 360 degrees to chase down fish are all part of the mystique of the 43.

"I don't know if it was the boat or the crews, but there's no question about it, the best fishermen in the world were buying Merritt boats in the 1960s and '70s," says Capt. Gary Stuve, who over the years has run more 43-foot Merritts than any other captain. Adds Roy Merritt, the man who designed and built the 43, "I don't know it if it was a perfect boat, but I do think it was the right boat for the time."

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