New (pending) World Record Yellowfin Tuna weighed in San Diego

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As we reported on Wednesday, the Vagabond out of Fisherman’s Landing in Point Loma had a very big tuna onboard their 10 day “Cows or Bust” trip. The fish was estimated to be 390 pounds using taped measurements of the fish after being brought onboard. Those estimates, and the hype of the catch was put on trial this morning when the Vagabond return to port amid a crowd of spectators. The fish would turn out to be the largest tuna ever weighed at Point Loma Sportfishing, and ultimately, the largest Yellowfin Tuna ever caught by a sportfisherman on rod and reel. When the fish came to rest at 405.2 pounds on the scale, which is certified for record submissions, history was made and a new bar set.

In addition to the fish being the world’s new standard in the record books, it also establishes a new class of tuna. The unofficial, official title given for a fish in the 400 pound range is yet to be determined by the sportfishing community, but if there are cows (200+) and supercows (300+) this is MEGACOW. And with advancements in fishing gear and refinements of techniques, this fish may not stand in a league of its own for too long. It seems the general consensus among the sportfishing fleet that limitations with tackle, namely the reels is what has kept the 400 pound mark off the books for so long. And speaking of reels, this fish was subdued with a Penn 30W blueprinted and modified by Cal Sheets.

worldrecordyellowfintunaPhoto courtesy of James McDaniels, Grande SportfishingMike Livingston, of Southern California, was the angler holding that reel, and tethered to that fish for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Previous to this fish, his largest tuna to date was 100 pounds. Apparently he felt no need to tickle the ranks of the cow and supercow classes, and decided it best to open the next generation of bluewater tankers. Long-range sportfisherman have a tradition of sewing patches on their jacket to acknowledge a cow, or supercow. Many times those patches represent a dynamic “club” of anglers having reached each of those acclaimed plateaus. Livingston will probably have to design his own patch, as the only member of the 400 pound club.

Megacow has topped a record that stood for over 33 years, and by 16.5 pounds. The previous record was set in April of 1977, and weighed 388.75 pounds. Just a few weeks ago, Greg Koonce of Oregon flirted with the record himself, catching a Yellowfin aboard the Polaris Supreme that weighed in at 379.8 pounds. That fish however, has been disallowed a line-class record by the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) for the manner in which it was gaffed, immediately following the fish coming free of the hook and line.

The IGFA, who governs the record submission process has strict rules regarding the process of the fight. No other angler or crew member may touch the line, or rod at any point of the fight. From all accounts, it appears Livingston upheld those regulations and up until the gaffing, did all the work himself. While the catch should stand as the “all-tackle” record, the line will still have to be submitted to, and tested by the IGFA to ensure it breaks below 130 pounds, their limit for line size used by sportfisherman for record purposes. The fish was reported to have been caught on a 100 pound mono topshot with 100 pound spectra mainline, albeit an unusual combination but one that should hold up with the IGFA.

The IGFA also scoffed at two previous all-tackle world record attempts, a 399 pound fish caught 18 years ago aboard the Polaris Supreme and a 394 pound fish caught aboard the Royal Polaris a few months later, during the same fishing season. The 399 pound fish spooled the first reel, so a second rod and reel was clipped on, a practice often employed to battle these extremely strong, fast, line peeling missile fish. The 394 pound fish was disallowed because a deckhand had made contact with the rod during the fight. Livingston’s catch should clear both of those common IGFA stumbling blocks.

The 2010/2011 fishing season is already drawing comparisons to, and probably eclipsing that glorious 92/93 season with the number of supercows and now the first 400 pound fish caught during the young long-range season.

Catch Details
Reel Penn 30W
Rod Custom by angler
Leader 100 lb Soft Steel Mono
Line 100 lb Power Pro
Bait Sardine
Hook Owner 9/0 Super Mutu

The Yellowfin Tuna record is arguably the second most heralded sportfishing record in Southern California. I don’t think that many would argue that the Largemouth Bass record is the most highly acclaimed not only here, but in the world. But for the world’s largest sportfishing fleet, the Yellowfin Tuna is the “holy grail” for sportfishing.

There are a couple ironic facts associated with this catch as well. The first being that the Vagabond is the fleet’s smallest long-ranger sportfisher at “only” 80 feet, which is 44 feet short of the fleet’s largest, the Excel. And second, the bait of choice responsible for the largest sport-caught Yellowfin of all time? A sardine. A baitfish responsible for more local Calico Bass catches than anything else.

The Vagabond is proudly owned and skippered by Captain Mike Lackey, who has been running the Vagabond for more than a dozen years and has been in the sportfishing industry for over 30. This fish is no doubt a dream come true for not only the angler, but Lackey as well. His name will appear alongside, and atleast in the record books, ahead of, iconic sportfishing captains like Bill Poole (who Captained the Royal Polaris for the previous world record) and Frank LoPreste.

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