By Elliott Stark
In a very direct sense, the pending new Texas state record bluefin tuna was a victim of the coronavirus.
Whether or not fish can actually catch this disease, who the hell knows, but the trip that resulted in greasing the biggest bluefin in the history of the Lone Star State was the result of being cooped up in the house awaiting the virus to run its course. Captain Robert Nichols, who runs the Rock Mama, a 55’ Hatteras based out of Galveston, Texas was gracious enough to tell us all about this fish of a lifetime.
Boat owner, and the man who reeled in the fish, Daniel Miers asked Nichols if he could round up a crew to take advantage of the weather window that presented the opportunity to get offshore and out of the house for a while. On the boat were Miers, his son Jacob, Capt. Robert Nichols and his two brothers Derek and Scotty. “We left out of Freeport Tuesday evening and slowboated about 100 miles to the Nansen Rig,” Nichols says.
“I talked to Capt. Troy Day. He had caught two blue marlin the day before but was heading home. Captain John Cochrane killed a bluefin that went 599 at Nansen too, so we were pretty excited. We planned to live bait for blue marlin.”
After getting a bit of sleep, the crew filled their tuna tubes at 4:30 am in the lights of the rig. “We put the baits out at 6:45. At about 7:00 there was an explosion. It’s hard to describe, but it looked like a 400 or 500-pound cannonball blew up in the water. There was a drill ship out at Nansen and we hooked the fish off of the bow of the drill ship.”
“We backed down a total of seven miles during the fight. When we were about four miles away from the rig, the tuna took a big run. The next thing you know, I looked down off the port side of the boat and there was a school of giant bluefin swimming and jumping around the surface of the water. We were surrounded by big tuna. I think the fish tried to join up with the school even though it was hooked.”
“My boss, Daniel Miers, hooked the fish and fought in the chair the whole time. We fought the fish for about six hours and 40 minutes. It was a pretty incredible feat. I think the whole time he might have had a few bites of kolache (a really great type of breakfast pastry) and three or four bottles of water—and that’s it. He hooked the fish himself.”
“My brothers, Derek and Scotty Nichols (who are also captains themselves) gaffed the fish. We gaffed it the first time we got him on the leader. We caught the fish on an 80 wide with 200-pound leader. The leader was light because we were fishing for blue marlin…”
“Ryan Doxey had to swim over from another boat to help us get the fish in the boat. We used the anchor windlass to help get the fish on board. We couldn’t have done it with just manpower. I removed the anchor and the chain and ran the anchor line around the boat and tied to the fish. As they were pulling, they yell up and I’d put it in gear.”
The fish weighed 820 pounds. It was 114 inches long with a girth of 80 inches.
“We got it on board but it was too big to keep fishing so we headed home even though the fishing was lights out.”
Nichols, Miers and company weighed the fish at Galveston’s Pelican Rest Marina.
Congratulations from InTheBite on the fish of a lifetime. The previous Texas state record bluefin mark was set in the 1980s.
Check out our gallery of more recent tuna catches:
Any comments or questions please feel free to ask us. Thanks in advance from InTheBite staff
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record for bluefin tuna that was caught on Saint Patrick’s Day by an angler aboard a Pirates Cove Marina boat.
The 877-pound bluefin was brought to shore aboard Capt. Dennis Endee’s A-Salt Weapon, after a 2 1/2 hour fight and then another 90 minutes to pull it on board, according to the Pirates Cove Facebook page.
The angler was Scott Chambers from Townsend, Del., a retired U.S. Army general. He caught the fish trolling bait on 130-pound line test on a Shimano 130 rod and reel.
It measured 113 inches curved fork length, tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail, and had a girth of 79 inches.
The “trophy-size” fish was caught on the final day that bluefins more than 73 inches long could be kept in the Atlantic south of Great Egg Inlet, N.J.
The new mark shatters the previous state record of 805 pounds, set in 2011 by Corey Shultz of Waverly, Va. fishing aboard the Sea Breeze out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.
A bluefin weighing more than 1,000 pounds was hauled to the docks in Beaufort earlier this winter, but because that catch was sold to a dealer it was not eligible for the recreational-only N.C. Salt Water Tournament record.
Story courtesy via The Fishing Wire
On New Year’s Day, Jason and Hunter Davis started off the year by landing a 785-pound bluefin tuna just outside Beaufort Inlet off Morehead City, North Carolina.
For most anglers that would be the accomplishment of a lifetime, but the Davis team followed up on January 2 with an equally amazing catch-just 12 minutes outside the inlet, they hooked and landed, after a four hour battle, a 767 pound bluefin!
Both fish were caught on ballyhoo baits towed on 80-pound-class rigs, notable because giant bluefins usually require 130’s for success.
The Davis family was aboard their 33-foot, Grady-White called the Grady Bunch. And yes, it has a tuna door.
Note that bluefins are under an international rebuilding plan, and it appears the western stock, which is found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the east coast of the U.S., is apparently rebuilding; ICCAT, the international fisheries management agency, increased the western stock quota from 1,750 metric tons to 2,000 in November of 2014.
Read the full story in North Carolina Sportsman here: – See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/336323#sthash.kmxlKv9p.dpuf