By Steve Dougherty
When Cameron “Twitchy” Plaag set the spread on July 11, 2014 under the careful watch of Capt. Kevin Deerman, he likely had no idea he would soon encounter the fish of a lifetime—a 972.7-pound blue marlin which ultimately took top honors in the Bastante John Uhr Memorial Billfish Tournament and stake claim as the new Texas state record. Still riding high from that catch seven years later, Plaag was most recently part of the newest Texas state record bluefin tuna weighing 876 pounds caught aboard Quantified on April 14 with Capt. Justin Drummond.
“I guess I’m pretty lucky,” Plaag says. In addition to having a polished horseshoe, Plaag believes that maintaining a positive attitude is key to success in any venue. “I’ve always tried to put myself at the right place at the right time with the right people. What I’ve learned more than anything this year is how this job and this industry, and this type of fishing is so much about the team and not so much about the individual. When I was fishing with Capt. John Brennan on the Game Plan Costa Rica, he taught me that the vibe on the boat was far more important than the way the ballyhoo swim or what color teaser is on the end of your chain,” Plaag says.
The Texas state record blue marlin was subdued after just a 20-minute battle, with Cameron on the leader for the end game. However, Quantified’s recent bluefin encounter was a decidedly different experience.
“I marked an image on my sonar, a big image way off the oil rig I was fishing and I kind of crept over to it, spent about 10 minutes on top of the marks and then we got blown up by the giant bluefin,” says Capt. Justin Drummond. The team hooked a couple of bluefin last year, although due to the filled recreational quota of tuna measuring 73 inches or greater, the fish all had to be released. “Once the quota’s met it’s all over, so last year by the time the boat owner and everybody was ready the quota had already been met,” Drummond says. “It’s hard to let them go.”
This season was shaping up to have a different outcome. The crew had just broken off a big blue marlin and reset the spread with two live tuna about 150 miles offshore, fishing with Tiagra 80s topped with 80 lb. Momoi and 220 lb. Seaguar fluorocarbon leader. “We were trolling a three-pound skipjack and five-pound blackfin. The big fish was so fired up that it ended up eating both baits within about 10 seconds—it was only 9:20 a.m. Justin asked how the bite felt and I told him it felt good, that it was a sweet feed. So, he says to cut the other line. It was a splitsecond decision and we just had to go with our gut feeling,” Plaag says.
Some say that if it doesn’t have a bill, it’s just bait, but the warm-blooded Atlantic bluefin tuna is a fish that demands heavy tackle combined with the strength of the angler and skill of the crew.
“It seems like a big marlin will give you a shot within the first half hour or so. Andy Moyes says that the smartest fish in the ocean is a giant tuna, and after this weekend I’d have to agree. That fish learned throughout the fight. It wasn’t until about two and a half hours into it that she kind of gave us an opportunity. We had her close and were coming back hard, but we still didn’t know what it was. Then the fish stripped 400 yards of top shot and 100 yards of backing off the reel in about 60 seconds. After that it really wouldn’t budge. The fish took us up current, and then down current just kind of hanging out. It was in control,” Plaag says.
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