Bill Roecker for FishingVideos.com & the San Diego Sportfishing Council
Net Update December 6, 2010
Next Day At The Stones
“We stayed the night at the stones,” reported American Angler December 4, “and once again awoke to a flat calm, no wind, beautiful morning. As soon as it was light enough to see – there was just enough bird life to get us in the right country. We had scratch fishing for a few hours where we kept one or two going but they were all decent grade. We pulled the anchor, made a move and found a zone that wanted to bite. We had several fish going for a few hours and we were really busy but as fast as it started, it shut off sometime during midafternoon. We ended up the day with 80 tuna and a couple or three handfuls of yellows. Most of the tuna were 25 to 35 pounds, but we had a fair share of 45 to 90-pound fish in the mix to keep us on our toes. Mark Crampton had one of the larger fish boated for the day.
Bird Schools Producing
All-Time Tuna Record: Hail To The Bull!
The record books have been waiting for this event for decades, but it may have surprised some to see the smallest boat in the long range fleet, Mike Lackey’s 80-foot Vagabond, come home with the biggest yellowfin tuna ever caught by a sport angler on hook and line. That’s what happened December 6, when the 405.2-pound tuna caught by Mike Livingston was hoisted on the certified scales at Pt. Loma Sportfishing.
Lackey, a modest sort when it comes to skippers, had estimated the weight of the fish at 390 pounds when he taped aboard the boat. When it dangled from the scales and the weight soared over 400 pounds to settle at 405.2 pounds, a roar went up from a crowd on onlookers, photographers and cameramen pushing in to see. Local news and national organizations had their representatives on the scene. Even the Australian outfit Bluewater was being repped by Gary Graham of Baja On The Fly.
Two-hundred-pound tuna have long been referred to as “cows,” since they’re mighty hard to budge on the line and even tougher to hump over the rail. Three-hundred-pounders have been dubbed “supercows,” and now there’s a need for a new category, since there’s a bull for the herd. If the fish is accepted by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as an official record, it will be the all-time, all-tackle tuna for the yellowfin species.
It will be accepted by Bill Roecker’s All-Time Top Tuna list, since it was eligible by jackpot rules, no matter what. Skipper Lackey was certain the equipment was proper and legal, and that no one touched the angler’s rod or line during the fight. So the fish should qualify.
“You’ve printed my picture and name before,” Mike Livingston said to dock reporter Roecker, but you spelled my name Nike.”
“I promise I’ll get it right this time,” said Roecker to start the interview.
“I got him on a sardine,” said Mike, “and a 9/0 Owner Super Mutu hook. I used 100-pound Soft Steel Ultra line and 100-pound Power Pro Spectra on my Penn 30 reel, which was a gift from a buddy and was blueprinted by Cal Sheets. I custom-wrapped the rod myself, It’s a five and a half-footer, a no-name. After all those years, since 1974, I’ve been out fishing on many boats, and I get this one on a no-name rod! My best one before was about a 100-pounder.
“He fought for two hours and 40 minutes,” continued Livingston. “I only had a topshot of about 100 feet of mono and it had just gone into the water when he bit. He was a cooperative fish. He went from the port corner to the starboard corner quite a few times, and one he took me up the port side to the bow. When he came back he never left the stern again.
“When he struck I had 26 pounds of drag pressure on the reel. I’ve never had a big one hooked before, so I listened when (crewman) Timmy DePhilippis said to put the lever all the way up to full drag. Boy, that took me to my toes! I used all that the reel had and my fingers. The reel got real hot on that first run, but it cooled down again. When I finally got all my line back it was packed way down on the spool.”
Skipper Lackey said, “These 17 guys, the Cows Or Bust group, stayed and the rail and fished for three straight days. Even if they didn’t get a bite all day, they were right back there fishing the first thing the next day.
“This fish is the culmination of all that came before. It’s my dream. It was made possible by all the development and the new gear that’s come about over the last 10 or 20 years.”
After a 400-pound fish some found it hard to get excited about 300-pounders, but there were two of those supercows weighed after the bull, and taking pictures of those was no problem.
Jim Pea of San Diego put in two hours and 45 minutes of hard labor to deck his 334.8-pounder. He said he baited a sardine on a 7/0 Owner Offshore hook, tied to 100-pound Soft Steel Ultra line and 100-pound Power Pro Spectra. He used a Tiagra 30 W reel and a Tiburon six-foot rod.
Steve Meinster of Van Nuys bagged a 324.4-pound yellowfin with a sardine on an 8/0 Eagle Claw hook. He said he used 100-pound Seaguar Premier fluorocarbon tied to 130-pound Izorline Spectra on a Penn 50 reel modified by Cal Sheets and a Calstar 760 H rod.
“I had to catch him twice,” said Steve. “After two hours he got into a tangle and I had to freespool him until they got it worked out. That took about 15 minutes. Then I fought him again for another hour and 15 minutes to get him in. He took 650 yards of Spectra! It’s my third trip on the Vagabond.”
Bill Rinkes of 29 Palms caught a 272.8-pounder on a sardine and an 8/0 Aki Owner hook. He used 100-pound Seaguar Premier fluorocarbon, 130-pound Line One Spectra, a Penn 50 S reel modified by Cofe, and a Calstar 6460 XXH rod to beat the fish in an hour.
Greg McCloud of Seal Beach, a Vagabond regular, took a 245.4-pounder on a mackerel pinned on a 6/0 Owner Gorilla hook. He used 80-pound P-Line fluorocarbon, 100-pound Soft Steel Ultra line and 80-pound Izorline Spectra on a 16 S Tiagra reel and a 660 H Calstar rod. His best previous fish was a 167-pounder.
Kirk Drickman, another regular from Westlake Village, reeled in a 241-pounder in two hours and 36 minutes. He said he fished a sardine on a 9/0 Eagle Claw hook tied to 100-pound Jin Kai line and 130-pound Power Pro Spectra on a Tiagra 16 S reel and a Seeker 6463 XXXH rod.
Roger Williams of Laguna Beach got a 234.4-pound tuna with a sardine on an 8/0 Super Mutu hook tied to 130-pound unknown line and 130-pound unknown Spectra. He used a Penn 50 W reel and a Seeker 6463 XXXH rod.
Dave Uradomo of Torrance, a Blackwater pro-staffer, caught a 205-pound tuna with a sardine on a 5/0 Super Mutu hook on 100-pound Blackwater fluorocarbon and 100-pound Blackwater Spectra backing. He used a Penn 16 VSX reel treated by Cal Sheets and a Calstar 700 XH rod to finish his fish in an hour.
Everyone at the dock wanted to pose with the world’s first 400-pound tuna. At the end, the size of the great fish was shown when four-year-old Kona Wasano stood next to it. Next stop for the world’s biggest yellowfin tuna: Lyons & O’Haver, for mounting.