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$1,000,000 PRIZE PAYMENT: Begins for world record yellowfin

BY PAT McDONELL/WON Staff WriterPublished: Feb 20, 2013

A ceremonial oversized Mustad check and the IGFA world record certificates will be presented to Dana Point angler Guy Yocom  at the Fred Hall Show on Thursday, March 7 at the Saltwater Ultimate Saltwater Experience Stage  

GUY YOCOM GIVES his monster 427-pound yellowfin a kiss, which recently got the okay as the new all-tackle world record for yellowfin tuna by the IGFA.

LONG BEACH — The first $20,000 check, part of a 50-year installment plan from Mustad, came in last Monday, part of the reward for the Sept. 28 catch in 2012 for  Guy Yocom. It was Yocum, a Dana Point resident who keeps his 61-foot Viking El Suertudo (“The Lucky One”), in Cabo year around, who caught the  yellowfin tuna 150 miles  south of Cabo.  

The 427 pounder was  recently approved as both a line class record and all-tackle record, by the International Game Fish Association, and will be honored at the upcoming Fred Hall Long Beach show March 7 at 2 p.m. at the Saltwater Adventure Stage. Yocum and many of his regular crew on  board that day, including his full-time captain Gregg DiStefano, 42, of San Clemente, will also be on hand at the ceremony.

Mustad’s Steve Tagami will be at the show to present the oversized “fake” cardboard $1 million Mustad check as part of its 2012 Hook a Million promotion that offered a cool million bucks to any angler who set an all-tackle record on any one of several select saltwater or freshwater species while using a Mustad hook. Yocom will be  the only angler to collect. The payments are $20,000 a year for 50 years. As the 55-year-old cement contractor Yocom joked, “I’m not disappointed at all. I won’t be alive to collect it all, but my kids will.” He said he was fine with the rules.  

The greater honor for he and his crew is the all-tackle record, and one that many experts say will not be broken for a while given the difficulty of staying within the strict IGFA rules. Two bigger fish of 445 and 427.9 have been caught on rod and reel, but were not eligible because of various rules infractions.  

“We started hearing about the catch almost as soon as it was back at the docks,” IGFA World Records Coordinator Jack Vitek said. At the docks in Cabo, Yocom’s fish was weighed on an IWS Scale Master II digital scale that was successfully re-certified in San Diego just a few days after the weighing, confirming the accurate read of 427 pounds.

“For the record,” the fish was caught on 100-pound Jerry Brown Hollow Core Spectra backing, Yo-Zuri 200-pound test fluorocarbon leader, a Shimano Tiagra 50-wide reel, a Melton Tackle custom bent butt standup rod, Black Magic  standup harness, and of course, the Mustad 12/0 hook.   

Yocom’s fish has earned him both the new all-tackle record and men’s 130-pound line class record. The revered all-tackle mark  previously belonged to long range angler Mike Livingston who broke the 33-year-old record less than two years ago with a 405.2-pound yellowfin tuna he caught off Magdalena Bay, Mexico on the  sportfisher Vagabond. Livingston, too, was honored at  the Hall show at the Vagabond sportfishing booth by the IGFA.

The intent of that 5-day trip was to set a world record, requiring specific tackle.   Yocom and DiStefano told WON the application required 60-foot section of main line (100-pound Gary Brown super braid), 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.   
Yocom  credits his captain of the past six years, DiStefano, 42, of San Clemente, for the record.

“He did it,” said Yocom of his captain. “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 and captain and owner – was to catch the biggest fish possible and not to make any mistakes that would disqualify it.

That effort has paid off, literally.

THE CREW AND helpers of the sportfisher El Suertudo at port in Cabo. 

The Longfin Tackle Shop
The Longfin Tackle Shop