yellow fin tuna

327 lb Super Cow Yellowfin Tuna

I was on a 14 Day Long Range Trip on the Intrepid Sportfisher out of San Diego. Approximately 4 days after departing we arrived early morning at the buffer zone off Clarion Island, Mx. The previous night held a full moon so I wasn’t terribly confident about our immediate chances on catching any large fish.

Dave Berutich

Dave Berutich

That morning it was a slow bite so improve my chances I decided to fish an 80# set up to improve my chances of getting a hookup. I caught a few 100lb fish. It turned out it was my turn on the kite, so I put my gear down to take my turn.

Kevin Osborn, the Captain rigged me up with a small flyer(flying fish) and up went the kite.

Managing the kite is a simple thing, keep the bait fluttering on the water and hope to get a bite. Not much time elapsed before a monster rolled on my bait and swallowed it immediately. The kite line came tight and as usual, everybody aboard was yelling wind, wind, wind as if I was going to do anything else.

I’ve been Long Range fishing for over 25 years and have seen and caught many large fish, but this one was really big. I was in the starboard corner now gaining line. The fish seemed really heavy but was coming to the boat without a lot of fuss. I thought that I only had about 30 yards of line out when suddenly the beast took off. What a run with line peeling off my reel the fish taking 400 yards off in seconds.

I was using my favorite fighting belt, a Smitty Day Belt. The way many fishermen handle big fish today is by letting the fish run, then using the rail, work the fish to the boat. My fighting belt allows me to do just that.

For most of the fight, the fish stayed on the surface some 100 to 200 yards away from the boat. Again, my fighting belt allowed me to control the fish when it was on the surface, slowly making progress. I was fishing from the standup position switching to a kneeling position when the situation dictated. Now I was into the battle for more than 2 hours, but the fish was getting close, now being straight up and down.

The drag on my reel was set at 38 pounds at strike. It was time to take the reel to full drag or about 60lbs of drag. Line was still going out and I wasn’t making any progress with the reel in low gear. The fear was that the same line was going on and off the reel it was only a matter of time before the line might fail. Kevin(Captain) decided to pinch the spool and run the pre-set to full and put the reel in gear with full drag. We later estimated we had possibly 85lbs of drag on the reel. I was in the kneeling position at the bow when the fish decided to make a run. With the amount of drag on the reel, I was practically pulled overboard when the fish darted away from the boat. The tactic worked as the fish was done. After 2 ½ hours, the fish came to gaff. A 5 gaffer at that. Funniest thing, as the fish was lying there on the deck, I could only imagine which one of us felt closer to death. I was totally exhausted.

The fish taped out to be 311 but at the Point Loma Scales weighed 326.7 pounds. Yeah, Baby!