BY MERIT McCREA
SANTA MONICA — A super cow grade bluefin landed aboard the Marina Del Rey 6-pack Fin Fetish eclipsed their previous best fish – a 344 pounder they’d taken last season. The immense super hit the scale at an impressive 367 pounds.
Fin Fetish Sportfishing skipper Capt. Brian Norris explained the previous record, according to the Marina Del Rey Angler’s Club, was 190 pounds before the Fin Fetish broke it last year.
“Almost no one fishes big tuna out of MDR, we took it last year by 154 pounds, this year’s is 23 pounds bigger, the heaviest since the harbor was dredged 67 years ago. Marina Del Rey Angler’s Club has been keeping records forever.”
Here’s his full report, including the details of a unique baiting method he’s perfected.
(It was) “367 pounds, 85 inches long and 59 inches around. What we do, we run out of MDR, it’s almost closer to the tuna grounds when they get behind the island. We target big bluefin Aug. through Dec., and fish the outer islands other times of year.
“That was the smartest, toughest fighting fish we’ve ever fought. We hooked it on a rig we came up with years ago. We put foam on the back of a flying fish, a single circle in the nose, no balloons or kites, it looks like it’s just swimming on the surface. We fish 150-pound fluorocarbon to a 400-pound swivel to 100 feet of 100-pound mono and use 100-pound braid as the backing line.
“We hooked up around 10 a.m. Our good luck charm Clayton Malik fought it first, he’s only 8 years old, it was rad, the kid is just all heart (they held the rod and hand-pulled line as Clayton turned the handle). Each of us took turns after that, Clayton’s dad Mike Malik fought it for an hour and Alan Shih fought it 2 hours, 4th client Brad Barneson pulled on it too for 20 minutes.
“The kid got a 50-pound seabass when he was 7, and earlier this season a 48-pound yellow, the kid’s good luck, it’s scary, I said bring the kid or you’re not coming. Kid got a 40 bluefin fly-lining a bait and fought that fish himself, really super cool. That’s why I got into this industry, to pass it to the groms.
“We bless every fish when it hits the deck, gill and gut, every single bit getting eaten. Every bit of it is being enjoyed by all of LA.
“Good 3-hour 45-minute fight, deck boss Ari Jamon pulling Wicked Tuna style on the line, I was holding the spool from going out with each pull, when he’d run I’d pull my hands off the spool. It came to the surface 2 hours in, I saw how big it was and knew it was over 350 by looking at the sickle fin. It circled the boat 75 yards out flashing his fins an hour and 45 minutes. (To get it) I had to back down with the engines, so we could get him in a pinwheel, then it was our game. We had 1 guy holding the rod, 1 pulling the line, 1 holding the spool and 1 turning the crank.
“We’ve caught lots over 200, they were nothing compared to this fish, it charged the boat, ran at the props, it was the smartest toughest fish I’ve ever experienced.
“We used a Penn 30-wide International with a Seeker OSP 3X rod. I wish we’d had it on the 4x on the 50 Wide. It bit the lightest rod with the lightest tackle…
“We do a lot of tricks like that, hooks sewn into the body, so stealthy looking, the bait looks like it’s alive. That’s what’s getting bit. Fishing that way, I can’t tell you how many cows we’ve caught, started it 5 years ago, couple sportboats kinda figured it out.
“We were behind SCI, on the cross. 33 00, 119 00. Deck boss Ari Jamon pulled on that thing for 3 and a half hours.”