There was spirited celebration on the San Diego waterfront Monday morning after the vessel Vagabond returned from a long-range fishing trip into Mexican waters and offloaded the heaviest yellowfin tuna ever caught by an angler.
The behemoth, landed by Mike Livingston of Sunland, Calif., weighed 405.2 pounds; it’s girth was 61 inches and it measured nearly 86 inches from nose to tail.
The catch, made on 100-pound-test line after nearly a three-hour fight, will be submitted to the International Game Fish Assn. for approval as an all-tackle world record. Capt. Mike Lackey said IGFA rules were followed so the catch likely will replace the current record, a 388-pound 12-ounce specimen, which has stood since 1977.
“When the scale hit that number it was like the Super Bowl here,” said Livingston, 63, a retired school administrator, in reference to cheers from a crowd of nearly 200, gathered to witness the weigh-in.
The Vagabond, an 80-foot deluxe sportfisher, had been on a 10-day expedition in search of “super cows,” or tuna weighing 300 pounds or more. Livingston’s catch was made last Tuesday west of Magdalena Bay on the southern Baja California peninsula.
Lackey had estimated the tuna’s weight at 390 pounds, using a tape-measure formula that is not always accurate. He then froze the fish to preserve it until the boat returned to its home port at Point Loma Sportfishing.
Livingston, whose previous large tuna weighed 100 pounds, said he developed a rash while “worrying about how big this fish was going to be.”
He was so exhausted after the marathon battle that he quit fishing for the day and caught only one small tuna the remainder of the trip. Vagabond anglers caught eight tuna weighing 200-plus pounds, including two that topped 300 pounds.
The large crowd was due, in part, to reports that spread since last Tuesday via social media outlets. But also because breaking Curt Wiesenhutter’s 33-year-old world record — set on the Royal Polaris at Mexico’s now-closed Revillagigedo Islands — had been the primary objective of San Diego’s long-range fleet of deluxe sportfishers.
The only known previous catch of a yellowfin heavier than Weisenhutter’s was a 399-pound specimen caught in 1992 aboard the Polaris Supreme. But because more than one angler handled the rod the catch did not qualify as an IGFA record.
Livingston’s fish was trucked to a taxidermist, where mounts will be made for him and the Vagabond Sportfishing office. A brief statement on the Point Loma Sportfishing website read:
“Holy Cow! The Vagabond long-range sport fisher just returned to the dock today with a historic, potential world record mega cow tuna catch. The official weight of 405.2 lbs. was met with cheers, champagne, and congratulations all around.”
– Image showing Vagabond Capt. Mike Lackey (left) and angler Mike Livingston with 405.2-pound tuna, and the video, are courtesy of Paul Sweeney / FishingVideos.com
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