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Monday, October 29, 2018
Disaster strikes the Prowler

Ranger 85 scores 345-pound bluefin!
Biggest blue ever landed

on SoCal sportboat

GETTING A 345-POUND TUNA off the Ranger 85 back at the H&M Landing dock proved to be a challenge. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS


WON Staff Writer

POINT LOMA — As an experienced offshore angler, it would take a special beast for Joe Rodr of San Diego to pull the “fish of a lifetime” card, and he did exactly that with a 345-pound bluefin tuna he stuck on the Ranger 85 out of H&M Landing. You might say Captain Robert Gray and the crew of the vessel — not to mention, owner Frank Ursitti — could say the same thing as the tanker fish is already being tabbed as the biggest-ever sport-boat caught bluefin on the West Coast.

I followed Ursitti and Katherine Miller down the ramp to meet the Ranger 85 on the dock when it arrived. Ursitti quickly jumped on, ran up to get a look at it in the hold, and came back saying, “Whoa! jumbo!” to which one of the passengers said, “it was a five gaffer.”

Getting the tuna off the boat and into the cart was an adventure in itself. Unable to make the turn down the stairs, it was slid right through the top of the stairs into a cart with a legitimate risk of losing both tuna and cart off the dock and into San Diego Bay. The behemoth was then safely carted up the ramp to the scale and waiting crowd consisting of other crews, landing staffers, media, fish processors and random passers-by in front of the landing.

RANGER 85 CREW wheeling the big fish up the ramp to the scale in front of the landing where a nice crowd was waiting. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

After a call from the Ranger 85 the night before revealed they had a bluefin that taped out over 350, everyone wanted to see the official weight, especially Rodr, who happened to be on his 50th birthday trip when blue lightning struck. When the digital scale settled at 345 with the occasional tick heavier, Ursitti blurted out a tongue-in-cheek “55 more pounds, boys!” to the Captain and crew, now posing for photos with Rodr and the tuna.

The crew of the Ranger 85 was understandably tight lipped about the details of the catch, so they should be taken with a drop of saltwater. It was a 2.5-day trip, and the tuna was caught at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday with a kite rig, 130-pound main line with a 300-pound leader coming off an Okuma Makaira clamped to a Seeker rail rod.

At that point, the particulars become hazy. The official word as to what was dangling below the kite was a sardine. The company answer to the location of the catch was “back side of San Clemente Island” with a smirk.

Total score for the 27 anglers on board were 4 bluefin to go along with a sack-filling 83 yellowfin, 35 skippies and 3 dorado.

Wherever it was, it’s clear that the Ranger 85 has a cow-tuna ace up its sleeve and may be looking to play it a few more times in 2017. Maybe the crew is accepting Ursitti’s challenge to find a 400 pounder. Either way, hopping on the Ranger 85 loaded for bear down the stretch here looks like a great call.

FISH OF A LIFETIME — San Diego angler Joe Rodr (white shirt) with Ranger 85 Captain Robert Gray (next to Rodr) and the boat’s crew with a 345-pound bluefin believed to be the biggest bluefin ever taken on a West Coast sportfisher. WON PHOTO BY MIKE STEVENS

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