The intersection of preparation and opportunity yields a stunning success for a San Diego area bluefin angler and his friend.
AS TOLD TO PAUL LEBOWITZ
SAN DIEGO – On Sunday, Robert Jones of Poway and his good friend Ken White of La Costa blasted 37 miles from Point Loma in Jones’ 23-foot Parker center console, pulling up just short of numbers provided by Billy Keleman’s fish reporting service. And then, history was made with the capture of a super cow bluefin, an elusive giant Jones had hunted for years. It wouldn’t be easy. Here’s how it went down as Jones told it:
A super cow bluefin is one of the things that all of us chase who go offshore in San Diego. My biggest before was a 140.
It was a little windy and rough in the morning. We set up 2/10 of a mile before Billy’s numbers. As I was dropping the G-Flyer, getting it rigged up, I looked at my sonar and saw major signs of fish literally underneath the boat. They appeared to be big bluefin.
I quickly set up the kite and sent the Flyer out. Big red marks lit up the meter, one after the other. I said, “Oh man, we’re in the spot, we’re going to get bit, we’re right on them!”
Within 10 minutes, mayhem, an explosion on the bait, an eruption. The fish came out of the water and the flag indicator sunk out at a high rate of speed.
We screamed from the excitement of the bite, to most fishermen the bite is where it’s at. I pulled the kite and the fish sunk out, just stripping out line and pulling drag.
We took turns on the fish, me and my friend Ken, in rough conditions. The fish was erratic, pulling away from the boat, running in big deep circles and going around the boat.
The circles were so big, and the swell was moving the boat, we had to keep repositioning. We each took 2 to 3 turns on that fish in an hour. Finally, we could see it.
It was massive, a bigger fish than we each had caught in our lives. We got it up near boat side, just the two of us. Concerned the fish was still a little hot, I stuck the flying gaff in his gill plate but it went in and came out and the fish took off with the reel in free spool.
Soon it was circling back up again. I grabbed 2 more gaffs and stuck him in the head with the second gaff. With the rod in the holder, we tail roped the fish and pinned him to the side of the boat. At that point the fish was ours.
We had to get him in the boat. My 23-foot Parker center console doesn’t have a door. We began to lift the fish up but it was so heavy we could only get his head up to the rail and we were stuck. We couldn’t make any more gain.
We rested for 5 minutes and tried it again and still couldn’t lift it. There were no other boats around us to help so we just kept trying.
After an hour we were losing hope when I remember I had put a small ratchet strap in the boat to tie down my helium tank. We pulled that out, tied the strap around the tail, put the ratchet around the T-top and pulled him in reverse, tail first.
We could only pull him 2 inches at a time, and for every 2 inches we lost one while tying the fish off. At the 90 minute mark we had the tail about 18 inches above the rail and we were finally able to pull the fish over and get him in the boat.
When that thing hit the deck, I finally realized how thick it was. It was so thick, I said to my friend Ken that’s bigger than 283-pound yellowfin I got before. He said let’s call it a 250 and we took some pictures.
I never imagined I’d catch a fish too heavy to get in the boat. I’ll have to get a pulley system. That’s the only thing I’d do differently.
The tuna was too big to fit in my large Reliable Kill Bag, the tail was sticking out a foot. By then the swell and wind were really bad. We were just outside the 230 in Mexican waters, and home was directly upswell. We’d drifted 3 miles during the fight and while struggling to get the tuna in the boat. We were almost 40 miles from the Point.
It took two and a half hours to make it home with my Yamaha 225. Even though it was a bumpy and wet ride we were smiling all the way home.
Back at Mission Bay, we called Sportsman’s Seafood and told them what was going on. We docked and called the manager out. He climbed in the back of the boat and says, “I need the forklift.”
At that point we put the fish in the corner, and I realized it was taller than I am, and I’m 6-foot, 1-inch. We put it on a scale but only got error messages. It would read 270, 300, error. That’s when I realized it must be a 300-pound scale and we were maxing it out.
They found a bigger, certified scale and the fish came in at 316.6 pounds!
We were excited, it was the first super cow for both of us, an amazing experience, and a day we will never forget. Just an amazing fish to catch in our local waters.
Later, I had the chance to think. We only fished 10 minutes, the rest of the time was completely work. It was a day we’ll never be able to repeat.
We’re still amazed it happened to us, it was a humbling experience. You spend a lot of days on the water looking for that big bite, you keep going after it and after it in pursuit of an opportunity and a dream that only comes once in a while.
I am super appreciative of Billy K for providing insight and techniques and real time data. I’m super appreciative of that.
We used a CalStar 670 roller guide and a Shimano 50w Tiagra rigged with 130-pound hollow core with 400-lb Moi Moi leader to a 12/0 Jobu hook, to a 5/0 5X treble made by Owner. The fish was caught on the Owner. The treble hook that got him was buried deep. The fish had no chance.
I’ve never had a fish beat me up like that before and my friend Ken feels the same way. It’s really something special.
I’ve heard stories from the guys in the business, I wouldn’t doubt there is a 400-pound bluefin around. I believe there’s one out there. That’s truly a dream out there for all of us. Having this caliber of fish available locally is a phenomenon that no ones’ seen in my generation.
I’ve gone overnight to Clemente by myself, flying the kite, and spent many days coming home skunked while chasing that one big fish. You either give up or you keep trying and I just kept trying and trying. Preparation is where it’s at.