On Deck Video Added.
WOW... Where do I start? I am taken back from what this season has provided. Poseidon has blessed me time and time again this year. A big reason why I am fortunate enough to land fish of this magnitude is the fact that "I Never Give Up". This weekend being the epitome of that. Saturday I launched at 3 a.m got back to the dock at 9 p.m having chased tuna all day with no avail. Sunday kind of the same deal however while floating on a kelp paddy my motor wouldn't start, forcing m to call sea tow which got me back to dock at 4:30 and back home at 6:30 AM I having launched at 4 a.m the morning prior. I was exhausted, defeated. I slept a couple hours before going to work Monday morning. I decided to head home at about 2 p.m since I was beat after floating around in the blue pacific all night. I my eyes bloodshot and I needed some rest.
One of our local 626 bass fishing friend named Vic was sending me pictures and text throughout the day and said the fish were foaming. He had to leave the fish foaming due to the fact that the wind was picking up a bit and he was out in his bay boat. I partially owe this fish to him for motivating me to get by ass out on the water again after a long weekend.
I couldn't handle the skunk and gave my buddy Daron a phone call after hearing the news and asked him if we could take his Boston Whaler Guardian out, he said "I'M IN". I thought Vic caught his fish locally around the domes but later found out it was 36 miles from Dana Point. We said heck lets run anyway. We launched at 4 p.m, yes 4 p.m and headed towards the numbers given to us by Vic. At 6:30 p.m I am about 4.8 miles from the numbers when I spotted birds I ran up on the school cast my Halco Popper WHAM I get slammed twice by yellowfin which were in the 20 lb range. I leave the fish because this was not the grade we were looking for, we run into school after school of these yellowfin. Heading west the small yellowfin turned into puddling mixed 40-60 lb yellowfin/bluefin with the occasional 100+ coming up swirling. It was a tough decision and went against the MOTTO "Never Leave Fish To Find Fish". My Motto has always been "#ToadsToadsOnly Go Big Or Go Home" I am looking for the right kind. Leaving fish to find fish has been a major struggle for me this season, especially with puddling non biting tuna. I get about 1.4 miles from the coordinates and opt to turn around after scanning the horizon with my Fujinon Stabi 14x40 Binoculars. These binos has changed my fishing game tremendously and if you do not own a pair of stabilizer bino's take the plunge and spend the money trust me. Imagine being able to scan a 10 SQ Mi area without having to move your boat.
After doing a U turn and heading back to the original area I noticed a small splash in the horizon and headed in that direction when I get closer I see a massive school of tuna swimming right underneath the surface. If you have never seen this you should look out for it, the ripples looks like wind that is not wind. You will see ripples that looks completely different than the surrounding ripples and will notice the color variance below it "Don't Run These Spots Over".
I roll up on the 1/4 mile of frothing tuna and they were all pigs 100-300+lber's the reason why I say frothing instead of puddling they were just underneath the surface and will occasionally roll. The weird thing is some of the fish were swimming with there fins above the water just like a shark, not your typically up down puddling but a steady cruise. I launch my Halco Roosta Popper on their backs and saw the largest swirl I have ever seen in my life however the fish did not commit. I make a wide circle around the fish cruise in front of them at idle speed very cautious not to spook the school and shut down up swell of them. I cast out the small sardines we have and start to soak bait. At this point another 1/4 mile school starts converging upon us and I am shaking, I am in the middle of the two massive schools of frothing fish.. OMG....OMG... My buddy Daron and I did not know what do. We are running out of daylight since the sun just set. I was thinking in my head please give me a sun downer bite.
At 8 p.m in the dark this is when it gets nutty with the sun down and in the grey like a switch they went crazy. I see a 200+ lb fish about 30 yards off my bow go airborne and fly 6' in the air. The sounds sounded like a mortar blowing up on the water an explosion another one goes airborne, another one, then another one this is exactly the grade I was hunting for. I yell wind up the rod Daron GO GO GO GO!!!! I throttle towards the fish as we slide right up to them, about 30 fish were busting the surface they were not your typical bluefin these were the tackle busting toads 200-350+lbers which all of us heard of. The ones that puts a grown man to his knees fighting it for 3-12 hours the past 2 years. They are still flying out of the water when I lay out my first cast which was a bit off. My 2nd cast I launch a Halco 170 baitfish pattern paired with a 8'1/2'' Pheonix Axis 30-60 lb rod, Shimano Trinidad 16 Gold, 80lb Suffix 832 Braid, tied to Seaguar 130lb flouro shock leader.
Very similar to the last Toad I landed two weeks ago the anticipation is building while the behemoth fish are still crashing off my bow. My cast landed perfectly in the middle of the meat, Pop pause....Pop Pop pause......Pop......Pop pause..... A volks wagon size swirl/white water erupted on my bait I take 5 cranks and yell FISH ON.... HOOKUP!!!!! Already shaking because I knew these fish were all Cow's and Super Cow's. Daron still casting these fish are now crashing 360 around the boat for a few minutes when they sink out fortunately we only hooked 1 in the mayhem. I am still shaking while explaining writing this report for you guys. I start cranking hard on the fish thinking I am going to land this fish quick very similar to the last 150+ lber landed a couple weeks back. I get the big girl 20' from the boat when she changes her mind and finally realize she is hooked. Little did I know I was in for the battle of my life the Tug O War begins it felt like my line was tied to a supercharged Ford Raptor on the fry. The beast and I go back and forth for 2 hours when my reel clamp screws start unwinding. I ask Daron if he has a screw driver? He looks everywhere and cannot find one I tell him to throw me your keys! While fighting this fish I was trying to tighten the screws with the teeth of a house key FML every time I get the fish close to the boat I have to stop and tighten the clamp and it takes another 30 yards of line. I am not going to lie to you guys there was nothing pretty about fighting this fish. It was so heavy I tried everything to get leverage on the fish I would pull with all my strength and it will not budge an inch. The Boston Whaler Guardians rail is very low which makes it extremely difficult to fight a fish on the rail. I literally tried every technique some were not quite techniques I tried using the rail technique, pushing down on the rod with my chest technique, the nutcracker technique with the rod between my legs, the pray to god technique, there was a point when I was even using the talk to the fish and ask it to die technique all of which worked to an extent lol.
2 1/2 hours later I decided its time to put more pressure on the fish as I tighten my drag almost to full drag and start gaining some line. This behemoth would barely budge the only way for me to get line at this point was to back the boat down on the brute. I lock my drag to full pressure and start gaining an inch at a time on my single speed reel. The fish still pulling drag like I hooked it on a curado bass reel. During the death circle what it took was two thumbs on the spool and full buttoned down drags in order to to gain line. 3 hours later the fish fish finally gets into a pattern and start doing the most powerful death circles I have every experienced every time the beast gets on the outside of the circle I have to hold the rod and pin it to the rails so it does not rip left or right. The death circle gets smaller as time progresses.
I see color deep color!! I didn't say anything to Daron because he is a relatively new to this and did not want him to freak out so I kept him at the helm and on the steering wheel maneuvering the boat. The fish comes to color and I say "Color look over the side" He looks over the side and he freaks out and yells "that is not a Tuna its a SHARK!!! You Caught a Shark!". "Daron its not a shark its a huge tuna". Calm down "Get the two gaffs ready, THIS FISH IS GOING TO DIE TODAY!!!!!" I had him put the second gaff right next to me so I could stick it right away after he sinks the first gaff in the fish. He gets nervous and tells me I will hold the rod you gaff the fish. I tell him NO this is your job you got this make sure the hook is facing the right way direction and you will not miss because this fish is HUGE. I tell him one more circle relax do not dig, 1 more circle GO. GO.. GO..!!! 3 hours and 20 minutes later he sinks the gaff perfectly in the fishes shoulders the fish briefly freezes realized the gaff is in her and goes Ape Shit. I sink it with the 2nd gaff in the gill plate we both are hanging on for our dear lives and it looks like his hook is going to rip out I get the cheapo metal 3rd gaff and try to sink it in the fishes head but it does not puncture all the way. I am holding two gaffs while he is holding the third gaff. You would think after 3 1/2 hours the fish is tired not this one, the fish does stop thrashing.
What seems like hours was probably 10 minutes then the fish finally calms down I re-position his gaff to the chest of the fish and tail rope the beast. I thought the battle was over once the tail rope was secured I underestimated the power of these beast. The fish went insane and was beating the heck out of the side of the boat with its Tail with my arms and palm numb from teh fight I was hanging on for dear life again. At this point I could barely feel anything on my body and now have to wrestle the Toad at the boat. Finally what seemed like eternity the fish calmed down we count one.. two.... three... and try to hoist the beast on the boat the fish is so big the two of us were unable to hoist it on board. Again one..two... three.... no luck. We had to come up with a plan quick thinking in the back of our mind that all this thrashing and blood probably has the Tax Man pretty close around. So we drag the fish to the back of the boat where it is lower to the water line and use every ounce of energy to hoist her on deck. When this fish cam on board this was unlike any other fish I have ever landed I was so exhausted from head to tow I couldn't yell scream or high five I just lay there on my back on the deck of the whaler in a moment of silence and stared at the sky. I sit up and look at the beast and think to myself this fish really looks like it could beat the California IGFA State record. I think the fish is larger than 244. This is what fishing dreams are made of I have been fishing all of my life for a moment like this. I am truly blessed to be able to experience something like this, this fish tried to break me and I stuck with it and prevailed.
We get back to the dock at 2 a.m attempt to shove the fish into the huge kill bag but the tail is hanging 2' off the side of the bag. The fish was so fat we were unable to zip up the kill bag. We load the bag with ice and put a towel on top hoping the fish will not lose water weight. My goal was to sleep 2 hours and go get it weighed at the Balboa Angling club I called them in the morning without avail. The phone line said they do not open until 12. I weighed in the fish 12 hours later and it weighed in at 234lbs.
Until Next Time
Go Big Or Go Home
Check my FB Page out if you like Cali El Nino 2015/16 Fishing
THAT was quite a story, and what a fish. The fact that you fought the fish without handing off made the record possible, if she had just weighed a bit more. But then, who really cares--enough steaks to fill your freezer and then some--plus the fight of a lifetime. Thanks for the details, GREAT fish Jonathan.