Jul 29, 2021
22
56
17
Riverside
Name
Victor
Boat
N/A
Ok so story-time.

Hi guys, I'm Victor, I'm 17 and my username is a good representation of my skill set.
I guess to start, we'll have to go to 1960, when my dad was born.
I'm kidding, we're not going that far back.
I've been on 6 "tuna" trips on my life. My first trip was when I was 12, my dad's friend who had a boat had hooked up on a 200-lber, fought for 3 hours before losing it, apparently his rod snapped and finally his line did as well. He calls my dad, and a week later I'm at Shelter Island with really no clue what was going on, but was excited from the transfer of rockfish and perch to something "big". We show up, get laughed at by my dad's friends for our (my dad's) old school reels/tackle. After sleeping in the parking lot, we launch, bait up, and in a few hours, we're near the Coronado Islands, where my dad's friend hooked up before. My dad hooks up first, pulling in a rat of a yellowtail and my jaw hit the deck, I had never seen a fish that big. We continued to paddy hop in hopes of a big bluefin, but no luck. The dorado made a good showing though, I landed my first ever dorado, yellowfin, and skipjack (both schoolie size). Stoked beyond my life. Oh yeah and my dad got the last laugh since he caught the most fish and biggest one too (35-lb dodo) on his "outdated" gear.
Vic's_1st_dodo.jpg
Vic's_1st_yft.jpg

Next trip, same boat...skunked. At this point, I grew a little older and started my "research" on how to catch this big tuna. Countless articles, videos, reading in these forums on guest tabs since I didn't have an account back then, and I figured I was ready. Our next tuna trip...turns into a rockfish trip (and I have a weird knack for catching rockfish), they were big, but a letdown in comparison to the anticipated bluefin tuna. This starts to get discouraging after a little bit, just a little. So back to the drawing board. Local Knowledge, Dirty Hookers, BigBass Dreams, Benjie Kim, every "BFT fishing socal" video on youtube, picking their brains in the comment section. This became my life, my dad just shook his head saying I was overanalyzing it, which he was right. By now I'm in junior high, getting into high school, and the cows begin to show up on the counts again. This was the first time I registered the term "cow" and instantly, it became my dream fish. I tell my dad about the "cows" and he starts to get excited too. He calls down a high school friend of his, Uncle Carl as I know him, our entire family is close with him since he and my dad are practically brothers. He says, "You'll never guess what they're calling these fish...'cows'...these things are over 200 pounds." Now Uncle Carl is a butcher and while he has no problem visualizing animals being this size, a fish like that was unthinkable. Next weekend, his Tundra with Washington plates is in the driveway. My dad and he go out on an overnight. (I had school and had to skip) Sadly though, no cows, lots of schoolie yt and skipjack though.
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At this point I had given up. I was also on a mission to get my first yellowtail and had failed miserably at that in this span of time. So I took a break, I still watched the youtube vids since they were fun, but decided to focus on school and wrestling. Until shutdown that is. I had so much free time that I couldn't help but get back into the buzz. Everyday was checking the counts, and tuna and yellowtail showed up in spotty numbers offshore. Then one day, the Mission Belle reports limits of yt, so we book. We've been on the boat before, but I had failed to catch anything due to my use of all my "research" and experimenting (I actually caught a rockfish lol). I land my first ever yellow! It was a rat but hey, it was better than a rockfish.

My junior year is spent in-person, my wrestling season less than interesting, with a dislocated knee as a cherry on top. Then the cows show up again. Instagram is blowing up with pictures of these cows, the landings posting pictures after pictures of them. I start to show my dad and again he gets excited. He calls up Uncle Carl and I send him a constant stream of pictures of the cows being landed to convince him to come down. I didn't have the heart to tell him that we had a pretty slim chance of getting them ourselves though. All I wanted was a fish over 60-lbs, the grade they were catching at the time. My dad's pb was a 65-lber back way back when they were catching albacore, and he was saying that was a respectable fish back then, so I figured something like that would be amazing.

Well he comes down, this time by plane, and we plan a trip with my dad's friend who had the boat. We convince him to leave in the evening so that we can get a possible night bite in and he says ok. Shelter Island again, and it's been updated. Worst weather ever that night, super windy, and even with 500 feet of line out, our flat falls were probably only around 40 feet deep. I felt bad for convincing my dad's friend to leave early so I stayed up all night with no luck, and no luck during the day either. Finally, we're approaching the islands, and for some reason I think of yellowtail and pull out a 40-lb yoyo set-up to fish. Of course, all the 100-lb setups being fished, my jig gets hit and the fight is on. A bottom of the ninth fish...and a bottom of the ninth strike-out, the line snaps. We were with the fleet and the grade being pulled up looked to be around 80 to 100-lbers. A fish of a lifetime gone. Well we still had one last trip planned, a 1.5 day on the Legend out of H&M the day after. Tired and discouraged, I still couldn't sleep out of anticipation, trying to stay positive.

Limping onto the boat with literally 6 hours of sleep from the past 4 days, I ask the captain for some tackle tips and get rigged up. He says to go as heavy as possible and I had a fresh spool of 100-lb mono. Thinking I was good, I showed him and he goes "that's a little light". WHAT?! 100-lb line is too light? I rig up, thinking he was pulling my leg since I'm young. After leaving the dock, he comes down to the galley and explains the situation. They were selling 200-lb leader w/ crimps, swivels, etc. rigs for $10 but I figured that I was good. Uncle Carl decides to buy one and my dad says just might as well get one cuz normally the captain has his reasons. We re-rig up and go to bed. At least I tried to, stuck in a limbo of consciousness and sleep. When I finally start to drift into some sleep, the boat stops, and the first fish is landed, a 120-lber. I couldn't believe my eyes. If this was the grade in the water, could we get one too? Fish have moved on and so does the boat. The entire boat is excited now, all envious of the guy's fish. We finally make a stop and down the flat falls go. I was fishing a knife jig but with no luck. Then I hear "HOOK UP" and look over to see a familiar looking trolling rod bent over.

It's probably a good time to address the tackle we had. Our rods were all trolling rods since we figured they were heavy duty rods enough to withstand the pressure of big fish. Our reels consisted of a US Senator 113W, a Squall 30VSW, a Torium 50 (these three my dad got since he figured we should "upgrade", and he's still old school so he liked these reels, the Squall was a last minute buy since there was sale and I should him a video of a guy being spooled which got him to get a big reel) and an Okuma Titus 30 that had collected dust in my dad's garage for who knows how long. All spooled up with 100 lb braid from ebay.

Anyway, Uncle Carl is bit, on the US Senator. I have never seen a look of sheer panic on someone's face. A comment the captain made earlier "Everyone wants a 200-lber til they hook up on one" resounded through my mind. The crew started to say "Oh boy, on a '57 Chevy" and the captain of course, made another comment, "they're great cars but they do break down". Well the reel did break down. Anti-reverse grinded out, and someone joked about duck taping my dad's hand or Uncle Carl's hand to the reel to keep it from spinning out. They weren't laughing. My dad and Uncle Carl tag teamed that fish for probably 2 hours, going around the boat several times. My brother and I stopped fishing for the slightest chance that we could get tangled with them and lose the fish freaked us out. My dad said he realizes he's gotten old after that fight, he had a bad wrist and fighting the fish only made it worse, both were drenched in sweat and both were teased by the captain. I don't think they found it funny though, they were in overdrive. Finally, after 2 hours and continuous hook ups around the boat, it was gaffed and hit the deck. The reel was wrecked and the rod's reel seat had gotten tweaked but the fish was on deck. It was the biggest fish I had ever seen in my life. I once went to Japan and visited that famous fish market over in Tokyo where they pay insane prices for bft. This was bigger than the one I saw there. The wave of relief that came over me was hard to describe, but I was happy that Uncle Carl had at least caught one and figured that our trip was made. And the cool thing is they it into made the Instagram post, Uncle Carl saying that he was an internet sensation hahaha.
My dad is the guy standing and the guy 3rd from the right with the really big fish is Uncle Carl.
insta_cowtuna_dad_Carl.jpg

Well, I figured that it was my turn. I switched out to a flat fall (ebay knock off). My brother had lost 3, one break and 2 pulled hooks on the same jig. The captain says they're solid 300 ft down, charging the boat. Bombs away. I stop at what I figure is the right depth and come tight to what felt like a rock. It was different than my first one I lost, which didn't even know it was hooked for the first 10 minutes. I looked down and half the Torium had been dumped so I ask the deck hand to check my drag. He adjusts it and the fish is still dumping line, I look at him again and ask if I should tighten it some more. He says to do a little more. Two clicks and the line pops, fish gone. This was getting out of hand. I regretted not paying the 10 bucks for that leader. Fishing shouldn't have been emotional, but boy was there an unexplainable feeling boiling in me. I go tie on another flat fall after taking a breath and start to fish.

Another school shows up. "Solid, solid, solid" goes the P.A. and I hear "HOOK UP". My dad's on, but he looks at me and asked if I wanted it. I never liked taking a fish that someone else hooked, but you know, beggars can't be choosers. I happily took it and my dad happily gave it to me, he said he was still tired from the last fish. Just my luck again, it's on our lightest heavy set up again, the Okuma with a Big 5 sale bin trolling rod, with the thing nearly spooled. I had always had the idea that tuna never jumped. However, at 2 a.m., 300 yards out, my white braid pointing straight at it like a beam, that tuna jumped probably 6 feet in the air. Of course I missed it, but my dad and the deckhand didn't. The deckhand went "don't see that everyday". That was the fight of my life, anxiety, exhilaration, fatigue, all twisting in my gut. Yes, that reel broke too. Same problem, anti-reverse grinded out. I got it to the boat after about 30 minutes and I swear that fish winked at me before taking off again. 15 minutes later, a tangle putting a spider web to shame came up, with two guys on fish, me one of them, and like half of the other guys on the boat. By some miracle, the crew got me out and fish was at boat. They gaffed it but left it in the water, which only made me more nervous, I never really got a good look at the fish so I knew it was big but didn't know how much. A third gaff was put in it and they pulled. And boy did they have a vocabulary. I thought, "well they didn't say that when they pulled up the other ones". When that fish came over the rail, all words left me. Most of the guys yelled when their came over but I couldn't say anything. It slapped the deck, followed by some more of the crew's extensive vocabulary. Biggest fish on the boat that day. On a SK that one of the deckhands lent to us rigged with 200 lb.
cow_tuna_on_boat_me_dad.jpg
tuna_at_landing.jpg
tuna_on_scale.jpg

My brother also landed his first bft, a 30-lber, and also got to reel in the kitefish.
It was the most memorable trip of my life. Cows landed (both of the ones we landed were cows), hearts eaten, 100 lbers crashing on the surface during the day, a steak dinner on a BOAT. It was great.
Wise men always say that fishermen go fishing without realizing it's not the fish they're after. I say that's bs, nothing beats a fish like that. :) All jokes aside, I'm going to talk about this for the rest of my life. Reality hadn't kicked in for a while,

A couple things I learned: there's a reason it's called fishing, don't give up, cliche I know, but true.
While fancy tackle is not needed, it is beyond helpful. My dream reel has been a PENN VISX and I have been saving up for one for a long time This trip has only reassured my resolve to get one. But I love that Big 5 rod.
Jigs don't necessarily have to be the most expensive ones out there. Lot of our bites were on the knockoffs and we had a "real one" that didn't even get a nibble, but at the same time mine was on an SK. Just goes to show it doesn't matter too much. Upgrade the hardware though, that is completely necessary, one of the hooks on Uncle Carl's knock off flat fall bent out.

Well thanks for reading this essay of a story if you made it this far without falling asleep. I didn't think this would be this long. If only my school essays were this easy to write.

Tight lines...
 
Last edited:
Max_luck_min_skill
Max_luck_min_skill
Ok forgot to mention, this was around the end of June. This was also Uncle Carl's first bft along with me and my brother.
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Low N Slow

Senior Chief
  • Sep 4, 2016
    315
    637
    Temecula
    Name
    Shawn
    Boat
    Sold - so I make a great ho now
    Good on you, man. Congrats!!

    I'm 51 and my biggest fish ever is still only a 30# Amberjack off the coast of Jax FL. Been fishing SD waters (Nados and offshore) for about 5-6 years now and sadly... that's still the biggest.

    What's worse... I live here and was visiting there.
     
    Max_luck_min_skill
    Max_luck_min_skill
    You'll get one! This seems to be based a lot around being at the right place, right time, with the right gear. Honestly amberjacks are so cool, like our yellowtail on steroids and definitely something I would like to a chance to catch.
    Upvote 0

    45king

    Jig slinger/arrow flinger
    May 29, 2005
    1,927
    779
    41
    Sd/Oc
    Name
    danny
    Boat
    Hall pass
    Congrats on a fish of a lifetime and it was a great read! Happy Friday brutha! Bluefin fever in full effect. Good luck going back to catching small fish lmao
     
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    2tuna

    Almost A Member
    Feb 21, 2011
    115
    421
    Salinas/CA/USA
    Name
    Craig H
    Boat
    le barge
    Great story! I admire your commitment to old school tackle - pretty relentless.

    The nice thing is it seems to be a one-and-done deal. Hook a giant, destroy the old reel, buy something new.
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    10,775
    4,531
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
    Boat
    several
    GREAT REPORT AND READ. Off the chart.
    Glad you, dad,uncle,brother all got some
    Big Bluefin. IF you 2 are still in school, you
    got enough here for years of class swag. LOL LOL
     
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    Tunahead

    Long Time Tuna Abused Member
  • Aug 11, 2006
    10,775
    4,531
    Costa Mesa
    Name
    Ron
    Boat
    several
    thanks! I'm graduating this year, but yup, both of us still in high school
    I started tuna fishing age 13 1960..now 75,
    and 8 shoulder surgeries later. Now 8 weeks just out of cast,
    after thumb CMC joint fusion. We used to fish tuna standup no matter the size. Now you can save your body parts rail rodding!
    GL in school. Save your parts!!
    Hope to fish again soon too!
     
    Jul 29, 2021
    22
    56
    17
    Riverside
    Name
    Victor
    Boat
    N/A
    I started tuna fishing age 13 1960..now 75,
    and 8 shoulder surgeries later. Now 8 weeks just out of cast,
    after thumb CMC joint fusion. We used to fish tuna standup no matter the size. Now you can save your body parts rail rodding!
    GL in school. Save your parts!!
    Hope to fish again soon too!
    Wow! You are a beast sir! Hope I can fish that long! Hope your recovery continues to go well!
     
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