Fish Of The Year: Already, Again?
Sixth biggest tuna on the top 10 list at 379.8 pounds
SAN DIEGO -- Last year, Rob McAdam got his 364-pound yellowfin aboard the Royal Star early in the new season, on Dec. 22. The big fish of this new season would be bigger, and it comes a month earlier. Tom Rothery weighed in Greg Koonce's monster tuna at 379.8 pounds on the Fisherman's Landing certified scales soon after the Polaris Supreme arrived Thursday, Nov. 18.
That weight would appear to put it in the sixth position on Bill Roecker's All-Time Top Tuna list. It would also appear to be enough to boost Corkey Yokoe's 130-pound IGFA class record by about 3 pounds. Polaris Supreme skipperthought the fish should pass muster.
"He's one of the few guys who handles his rod through the whole thing from beginning to end," commented Tommy to dock reporter Roecker.
The event came down during a morning on the Ocean Tackle Research ten-day trip with 18 passengers and chartermaster Lon Mikkelsen of Hood River, OR. Lon had the second-best tuna at 294 pounds.
Koonce is also from Hood River, and the pair fish together often. This time, as in the past, Lon put up the jackpot entry for Greg, since Greg doesn't enter. He gets the money, too, along with his own second-place earnings.
"It happened in the morning," related Koonce, "after I'd been out on the kite for what seemed like 20 minutes or so with a double sardine outfit. The fish boiled on the baits, and we all saw his tail, so we knew he was big.
"He made one long run away from the boat, and we went around the boat three times, and then he settled down on the bow. I wasn't moving him much, so we locked down the drags on my reel and then he started coming up. I was using my OTR standup harness, and in another 30 minutes or so we got him to color, when it got exciting. I'd like to credit deckhand Mark Clark for his help. I've been fishing for 20 years."
What happened next is related hereone of the crewman, Ritchie:
"Greg Koonce's turn on the kite didn't last too long as a hole was left in the ocean by the fish that erupted on his kite baits and the battle ensued. Greg is an excellent fisherman and did everything by the book to achieve deep color on his fish. His fish was one of the more cooperative fish in recent memory as its circles were just perfect coming up on the bow of the boat. Everything was fine as the fish was just a few feet away from gaff and then, it happened.
"Just when we thought it was all good, a Guadalupe Fur Seal swam by to get a closer look at an animal four times it size and the tuna spooked, took off with a burst of speed right around the anchor line. Just like that, in a matter of two seconds, the fish was wrapped in the anchor line and to make matters worse, the second hook for the double sardine rig caught the anchor line and the weight of the fish pulling on a stationary object broke the hook in the fishes mouth.
"No more hook and line attached to the fish and our hearts and the fish were beginning to sink. The fish was just out of gaff range in front of the anchor line, diving out of sight, and as all crew members attempted to gaff the fish, not one crew member on deck were able to sink a gaff in the fish...except for one. Galley assistant/deckhand/roving patrolman/waste management supervisor/all around nice guy and super-human Mark Clark was up on the cathead, and reached with all his might, hands on the butt end of the gaff, fully extended and on his knees on the cathead, managed to grab onto its tail.
"Now, if this fish would've made one kick with his tail and dove out, Mark would've joined him in the water. By the grace of the Fish God's, Mark was able to pull the fish up, tail first, and four other crewmembers sunk their hooks in this beast. The fish finally made it on board after a struggle to get over the rail and the beast was taped out at 347 pounds.
"We did many tape jobs on this fish to get the perfect measurements and bottom line, fish of 300 pounds can fluctuate 20 pounds either way, so the weight of Greg's fish will be truly told on Thursday when we arrive back in San Diego and we hang his fish on the scales at Fisherman's Landing. Congratulations to Greg and I think he owes Mark a drink when we get back in, at the least."
GREG KOONCE FISHED HIS SARDINES on Mustad 7691 7/0 hooks, on one of the boat's kite rigs. Those rigs accounted for most of the nine cows caught on the trip, and consisted of the Mustad hooks, a short length of 200-pound P-Line leader tied to 100-pound P-Line mono and 130-pound Izorline Spectra on Tiagra 50 W reels, along with Calstar 6460 XXH rods. Koonce had a 199.4-pounder as well as the trip's whopper.
Chartermaster Mikkelsen of OTR got his 294-pounder on the kite with his own rig: 7/0 Mustad 7691 hooks, 130-pound Blackwater fluorocarbon, 100-pound P-Line and 130-pound Izor Spectra on an Avet 50 reel and a Lamiglass five and a half-foot rod.
John Essler of Portland, OR took a 279.9-pound tuna with a mackerel on an 8/0 ringed Gorilla hook tied to 130-pound Yo-Zuri Hybrid line and 100-pound Line One Spectra on an Avet EX 30 reel and a Calstar 6465 XH rod.
Jim Zeder of Pomona caught a 248-pounder with a sardine on a 6/0 Super Mutu hook, 100-pound P-Line, 130-pound Izor Spectra, a Tiagra 50 reel and a Calstar 6465 XXH rod.
Craig Heberer of Oceanside took a 232.6-pound tuna, his best ever and his first cow, on one the boat rigs.
Lt. Commander Jonathan Musman (his USCG cutter is the Victory, out of Homer, AK) bagged a 227.8-pounder on the kite with a boat rig. It took about 20 minutes, he said, and was his best fish so far.
Matt Kiesse of Cedarville brought in a 225.4-pounder with a boat rig, after it scuffled with him for an hour and a half.
Clint Campbell of Bozeman, MT suckered a 220.67-pound yellowfin tuna with a sardine on a 6/0 ringed Super Mutu hook from Owner. He said he used a boat rig.
Ben Meyer of Vancouver, WA took a 219.6-pound tuna with the double sardine kite rig. He said the fight lasted 40 minutes.
First Supercow Of 2010-2011
Dave Povey of Dulzura is 63, retired after a 25-year career with Thousand Trails, and RV camping organization. On his 4th long range trip, Dave started to fish one November morning aboard the Royal Star.
It was the first thing in the gray of pre-dawn, he remembered.He tossed out a sardine he'd pinned on a 9/0 Eagle Claw circle hook, and was waiting to come around the corner of the port side with it, to the stern rail.
"There was a big splash on my bait, only 60 feet from the boat," remembered Dave when he told the story to Bill Roecker later, "and I was on, still on the port side."
It didn't take long for the 320-pounder to yank Dave up the rail to the bow. Then it ran him back down to his starting point, and back up again. This went on for a few repetitions, and then the fish crossed over the anchor line and gave Dave several repeat peformances up and down the opposite side of the boat. The fight lasted about an hhour and a half, and the big tuna came to gaff in the starboard stern corner.
"I really want to thank the crew: Greg, Steve, Blake and Brian," said Povey, "because one of them was always right there at my elbow for me during the whole thing, and all four of them helped bring it up onto the boat."
On this trip Dave Povey got the first tuna he'd ever caught over 100 pounds, three times. He got one on the kite that weighed 234, another on a sardine at 261, and the season's first supercow, his 320 pounder.
"Like A Bullet" Season's Second 300-Pounder
Dan Nagy of Cedar City, UT fished aboard the Qualifier 105 with skipper Joe Crisci on a Larry Brown charter, and got his first 300-pound tuna. Crisci weighed the beast, previously estimated at 358 pounds, at 345.2 pounds on the Pt. Loma Sportfishing dock's certified scales.
Fish that big often come hard, and Nagy's supercow was no exception. It beat him up for three and a half hours after sucking in Nagy's mackerel bait on an 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hook.
"Then it took off like a bullet," said Nagy to dock reporter Bill Roecker. "It ran and ran and ran, and took me up to the bow. I thought I'd run out of line.
"Then it stopped, and pulled me back to the stern. It went up to the bow again and then back to the stern. We went back and forth about six times. Then he settled down on the starboard side of the stern, and that's where he finally came up.
"I'm going to eat him," summed up Nagy, who's a large gentleman. "I sent him over to Fisherman's Landing Processors to cut him up."
Dan said the gear he used included a foot and a half of Ande 100-pound topshot that had been shortened by repeated fishing tied to 135-pound Line One hollow Spectra on an Avet 50 reel and a Seeker BSC 663 XXH rod.
DAN NAGY'S345-pound tuna.
Good Morning Report
Fish in the larger model sizes have been biting off an on recently. Excel sent in her latest news from the lower banks in this report for November 17:
"It's about lunch time here on the Lower Banks, where we had an excellent morning on 80 to 200-pound fish. So far we have 32 fish on board with a couple more on the ends of the lines. Most of the fish came on flylined sardines and a few others on the kites. We definitely see good sign of fish around the boat so we are hoping for another hit at sundown.
AN EXCEL tuna comes over the rail.