By Katie Coeckelenbergh-Sawyer
Stanley Gillies – Angler
Pending Junior Bigeye World Record
Fish: 325pound Atlantic Bigeye Tuna
Captain: Jason Pipe
Owner: Talbot Brogden
Mate/Wireman: Danny Wingrove
2020 started as an exciting year for Stanley Gillies. At 15, he was set to spend the spring working for his grandfather, Talbot Brogden, on the Spanish island of La Gomera. Talbot owns the East Atlantic Crew (EAC), a fleet of boats based in the Canary Islands. Brogden’s boats fish the waters up the west coast of Africa from Cape Verde to the Azores.
Although the crew has been fishing these waters for many years, the EAC has been together for three. The seasons in the east Atlantic generally run March and April for bluefin tuna and mid-May – October for blue marlin. The EAC’s best season in charter boat saw 96 bluefin tuna boat side. In the Canary Islands, the bluefin fishing is all catch and release for recreational boats. The bigeye and yellowfin, however, are fair game for harvest.
An avid fisherman since the age of 5, Stanley was more eager than ever to make the trip to La Gomera. After a childhood of running the docks and riding along with his grandfather, Gillies was amped to get the opportunity to learn hands-on from one of the industry’s finest eastern Atlantic crews.
In his younger years, Stanley had released a white marlin and about a million skipjacks. Last year he tallied a nice blue marlin, but he had yet to tangle with a large tuna. This was to be Stanley’s year—the year the team was hoping to put him on one of La Gomera’s famed bluefin. He was to feel the pull of nothing but muscle below the boat.
Then in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, just before the start of the season, the Spanish government put all of Spain’s territories into a strict lockdown; preventing any non-essential travelers from leaving their homes, much less going fishing. What followed was a difficult 63 days. As soon as the Spanish no-fishing laws were lifted on the 18th of May, the Freespool with the EAC was the first out of the marina and on the water.
The next day, they were bringing in a (pending) junior world record bigeye tuna.
A day of fishing off of La Gomera, like many places, can be fairly dependent on the presence of bait. Halfway into May the crew would normally start out fishing for marlin. Rumors of big schools of tuna still running the coast, however, led the crew to believe they could still target Stanley his first tuna. Like anywhere, the search for bait off the island can take anywhere from minutes to hours. Sometimes it’s a flop altogether.
This was the case on the morning of May 18th. After an hour and a half of looking for bait, the crew opted to pull marlin teasers in hopes of raising a fish. It wasn’t until Captain Jason Pipe spotted a few tuna feeding on the surface of the leeward side of the island that they put a hook into the water.
Pipe and company deployed a bullet lure on the shotgun. This turned out to be a good decision. Within a few minutes line was screaming off the shotgun.
“No one on the boat saw the bite, but we all heard it,” explained Talbot, “We knew it was a big fish from the sound of the line leaving the reel!”
Stanley was ready for this fish. In fact, he had been dreaming of this moment for years. Finally, a big tuna was on the end of the line and he was going to bring it to the boat. Starting the fight on standup with the Shimano Tiagra 80 set at 40 pounds of drag, it didn’t take long for him to decide this fish was big enough for the chair.
Stanley set himself up in the chair. From there, the fight was a game of give and take. Just over 40 minutes after hook up the wire man and mate Danny Wingrove got his gloves on the leader. Talbot (equal parts proud grandfather and gaff man) stuck the fish.
The process was smooth, an experienced crew bringing in another big fish. From the moment the fish was out of the water, everyone on board knew that there was a potential world record on deck. The atmosphere changed instantly from excitement to electric and the team headed in with anticipation for an official weight.
Stanley’s pending World Record Bigeye weighed in at 325 pounds (147.7 kg). The monstrous tuna had a fork length of 185 cm. It shattered the previous record of 234 pounds 12 ounces (106.5 kg).
This fish adds to an impressive list of accomplishments for the EAC. It is another World Record for Captain Jason Pipe (who has had several World and European records in Marlin, Tuna and Spearfish categories) along with the incredible accomplishment of a Royal Slam for Talbot Brogden.
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.