|Yellowfin weight of 427 verified by scale company
International Weighing Systems (IWS) in San Diego checked the Minerva's Tackle scale brought from Cabo, and it was learned yesterday (Friday), the scale was dead-on. Thus, the heavier weight has been submitted to the
IGFA for Guy Yocum’s pending all-tackle yellowfin record. The pending record was caught on Sept. 18 and weighed the next day at Cabo San Lucas.
GUY YOCOM FROM
DANA POINT, CA poses with the
fish that could be worth $1
million in the Mustad Hook a Million Contest, a worldwide competition. The validity of the weight taken in Cabo was confirmed by the digital scale company in San Diego and if approved by the IGFA, the 427 pounder would crush the existing two-year-old record of 404 pounds.
BY PAT McDONELL
CABO SAN LUCAS – The Holy Grail of all-tackle records in
big-game fishing is debatable. Is it black marlin? Blue marlin? Bluefin tuna.
For many, it is yellowfin tuna. After a WON interview Friday with owner/angler Guy Yocum and the boat's captain Greg DiStefano, in which every aspects of the catch was discussed, it appears the the new record will be 427 pounds.
The current record of 404 pounds was set two years
ago on a long range trip into Baja aboard the Vagabond by Mike Livingston. The 427 pounder was caught Tuesday, Sept. 18 approximately 180 miles from Cabo San Lucas by the Dana Point resident on his 61-foot Viking sportfisher
Yocum's pending record was hooked on a chunk bait during a long yellowfin drift
180 miles south of Cabo, As reported before, the fish was weighed in on two scales in Cabo the day after it was caught. The first
scale that was from the boat, was not functioning correctly, blanking out a few
times, but eventually registered a weight of 421.5 pounds.
Worried that their older scale might not hold up to
certification, a second scale, a newer International Weighing Systems (IWS)
digital scale owned by Minerva Saenz
of Minerva’s Tackle and an IGFA rep for the area, was brought down. All
digital scales used for record attempts or IGFA-sanctioned tournaments should be, but are not required, to be
certified once a year by the San Diego scale manufacturing company. Minerva’s
14-month-old IWS scale she won at a tournament auction, said Yocum, was a mere
two months out of certification.
Before a growing crowd at the scale at Cabo San Lucas Marina
Wednesday morning, the massive yellowfin registered 427 pounds. The digital
scale was brought back to San Diego to IWS and on Friday the results came back
to Yocum and his longtime captain Greg DiStefano. The weight of 427 pounds was
verified by IWS as being acceptable and is the official weight listed in the
official application to the IGFA, based in Dania Beach. Fla.
In an extensive interview with Yocum and DiStefano on
Friday afternoon after they heard the scale and the weight checked out,
they said the application ws sent with the required materials: a 60-foot section of main line (100-pound Jerry Brown Spectra), 200-pound Yo-Zuri pink fluoro leader, a 12/0 Mustad
hook (connection was a snell knot) and all mainline to leader connections,
affidavits from crew and angler concerning the fight, and photos.
Yocum, 55, a Dana Point resident and owner of a Corona-based
concrete business, keeps the boat
in Cabo year around. He said he was told the minimum time for records to be
reviewed and results to be announced is 90 days. He’s confident the fish will be approved as the new
all-tackle mark after the IGFA reviews the application.
He credits his captain of the past six years, DiStefano, 42, of
San Clemente, for the record even though Yocum’s name would be listed in the annual record book.
“He did it,” said Yocum. “This was a special trip and he went
out 90 days before and started preparing, setting up each rod and reel.” The
key element in the catch was that the boat was set up – and the mindset of the
crew, captain and owner – was to catch the biggest fish possible and not to
make any mistakes that might disqualify it.
There’s a lot of ways to get disqualified. Too long of a leader length, touching
the main line by a non-angler, allowing the rod (a bent rod Melton’s custom
roller guide stand-up tuna stick with a Shimano Tiagra 50 Wide) to touch the rail. You might
say that IGFA rules, well, ruled
all methods of fishing and tackle.
Said DiStefano, “That went for any fish hooked, even a 75
pounder, because in a good bite and after a few days you can get lackadaisical,
handing fish off. But we didn’t. Because you never know what you have until you
see it. Even that fish. We thought that fish would be about 280 when we saw it
in the chunk line.”
The fish got itself tail-wrapped about 30 minutes into the
55-minute fight as Yocum worked the fish as he stayed clicked into a Black
Magic harness. It took three
gaffs, the first one breaking after the second one went in, to secure the fish
after it made two heart-stopping runs on consecutive gaff attempts.
When it came through the transom door, Yocum, whose view of the
fish had been blocked by a trio of gaffers, got his first real look at the
“We had caught a 350-pound tuna two months ago so when I saw it
come through the door, but I knew this one was much bigger than the other
fish,” said Yocum.
Then DiStefano got out the tape measure. The tuna was 88 inches long and 63 ¼ inches in
girth. By the time it got back to
the dock the next day the fish had Weight-Watchered to a mere 62 ½ in girth. But the tape on the boat
indicated it was 433 to 440 pounds.
“That’s when we knew we had a fish way over 400 pounds and maybe
a record.” They packed it in ice
in a fish bag custom made for big fish by Canyon Products in Florida, and by 1
p.m. the El Suertudo was
headed back to port.”
There’s more to the story, of course, little details to be added
in the WON story coming out next week.
Now the crew and owner are back in the states, trying to get
some work done. The media requests and calls from friends and tackle companies
has been exciting -- and
Yocum said the burden of dealing with the questions has been put
on his captain, who has had his cell phone stuck to his ear nonstop since they
got back. He asked for all of it. He got it.
“Greg said he wanted to break the record,” joked Yocum. “I told
him, ‘Be careful what you wish for. Now he’s done it, and now he’s paying for
The celebration started in Cabo, but it was a nervous sort.
“We didn’t know how the scale thing would turn out,” said Yocum.
“Those guys DiStefani and the crew)
went out to dinner and ate some of the fish (at Solomon’s Landing
restaurant in Cabo). I wasn’t feeling well. After all that, I just went home,
got a sandwich and went to bed.”
The nervousness, or some of it, has lifted with the announcement
Friday, Sept. 28, that the tuna’s weight of 427 pounds checked out Friday. Now
there is the wait, this time for the IGFA to make it official.
El Suertudo, the name of the 60-foot Viking, is Spanish for "the lucky
one." Guy Yocum bought it in Florida 4 1/2 years ago and DiStefano spend three months "getting it "California ready."
Yocum is 55, married to Myra and they have two college age children, a son and daughter, in school in Boulder. His concrete company in Corona is Guy Yocum Construction ("It didn't take me a lot of time to come up with that name") and has been in the concrete business for 33 years and is also in land development.
Plans for the tournament season are for the crew to return to
Cabo to fish the Bisbee’s Black & Blue Marlin Tournament, and then the Los
Cabos Tuna Jackpot Tournament, Nov. 7-10.
Jerry Brown Spectra line, 100-pound, was on all reels
as backing. Why? Most super braid line companies either don’t know what their
heavier lines will break at DiStefano said, or they break over the IGFA 130-pound
limit for main lines. Most 130-pound braids break at around160 pounds, he
said. Better to play it safe, the captain said.
The trip was planned for four to five days. The caught fish in
several stops as they moved south and found black porpoise, with a nice meter reading of tuna that
stopped the boat. Several fish were hooked in various ways (kite, flylined
baits) and the boat's bait supply was getting low, and mainly dead baits were being used on the kite. The chunk line produced. The big fish came up in the chunk line, was spotted, was enticed with
more chummed chunks, and then was targeted with a hooked chunk.
They had landed fish to 200 pounds on the trip before the record
breaker showed up. “Two hundred and twelve pounds is my previous record, but my
son did get a 350 pounder on the boat last month,” said Yocum.
The Mustad Connection: That hook and the weight might just make the catch eligible for
the Mustad $1 million competition which offers registered anglers a chance to
win a million dollars if they can catch a certified all tackle world record of
certain species (including yellowfin tuna) before Sept. 30. Perfect timing. The
million bucks would be paid out in $20,000 installments over 50 years. Yocum would have to live to 103 to get it all.The money would be paid on an insurance policy if the catch is not just an all-tackle record but it meets the requirements of the contest. It's no slam dunk, Yocum told WON last week.
This is obviously a new Cabo record. Three years ago a 383-pound yellowfin
won the Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot for the Fisherman team and remains
the largest tournament yellowfin ever caught, anywhere. That fish's replica hangs on the wall of the Pisces Sportfishing office in Cabo, courtesy of Gray's and WON.
Gray’s Taxidermy has the measurements and is planning on
getting Yocum a replica of the fish for display in Cabo. It could go next to
the 383 pounder in the Pisces Sportfishing office.
GUY (Holding the Melton's bent butt custom rod and Shimano 50W reel) AND HIS CREW of the El Suertudo with their monster 427-pound
yellowfin that is a pending all-tackle IGFA yellowfin record. Second from right is Capt. Greg DeStefano.