The powerful amberjack was so massive it might have been a world record.
But the fisherman who battled the monstrous fish, and the Mexican crew that helped deliver it from the Sea of Cortez to a remote Baja California beach, were not thinking about records.
They marveled at the size of the fish and hefted their great prize as if to see if it could, indeed, be hefted—then carved it up for fish tacos and fillets for the grill.
The International Game Fish Association lists a 156-pound amberjack caught off Japan in 2010 as the all-tackle world record. The fish caught last week by Kevin Shiotani was conservatively estimated to weigh at least 135 pounds.
As anyone who has done a lot of weight-guessing knows, however, estimates can be wildly inaccurate.
Regardless of a possible record lost, Shiotani’s amberjack is one of the largest ever caught, although it’s likely that larger specimens have been hooked and lost in the rocks.
The catch was made after a 25-minute struggle near Cerralvo Island, the southern-most island in the Sea of Cortez.
Shiotani is a regular customer of Tailhunter International Sportfishing, a La Paz-based charter business that trucks clients to a remote beach to fish Cerralvo and offshore waters out of pangas, or large skiffs.
“Kevin fought the fish for 25 minutes to a half-hour and got it to the boat and, of course, blew everyone away,” he said. “They stuck a gaff in it, got it back to the beach, and started taking pictures. It’s a magnificent fish.”
Roldan said there was no scale on the beach and that he was not present when the fish was brought ashore. Had he been, he would have been sure to get the behemoth weighed on a certified scale.
He said that because amberjacks are so powerful and always lurk near structure, the larger fish are incredibly difficult to land.
“The largest we’ve put on a scale is 110 pounds, and 60- to 70-pounders have taken an hour or two hours to put on the boat, so this is just a fish that [Shiotani] happened to turn and put the wood to it, and got it back out of the rocks and got it to the boat.
“Like [with] a lot of world records, there was a lot of good luck and good angling.”
There is one world record out of La Paz that seems as though it might last forever: a 114-pound roosterfish, a cousin of the amberjack, that was caught in 1960.