Yellowfin tuna caught off Mexico expected to be largest ever landed

TunaA yellowfin tuna caught by John Petruescu in Mexican waters aboard the San Diego-based Excel is expected by the crew to become the largest yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel.

The Excel, which had been fishing at remote Hurricane Bank (960 miles southwest of San Diego), will arrive at Fisherman’s Landing early Sunday morning and only then will the official weight be known.

However, in a satellite telephone interview, skipper Justin Fleck revealed that the yellowfin “taped out” at 459 pounds, not the 400-pound mark that has been shared all week on the vessel’s Facebook page.

The lesser estimated weight was provided in case the tape measurement formula, which is not always accurate, was way off the mark and the fish ended up weighing considerably less when placed on the scale Sunday at Fisherman’s Landing.

“You can also add that it’s because some of us are a little bit superstitious about these things,” Fleck joked.

The current International Game Fish Assn. all-tackle world record is a 405-pound yellowfin caught in 2010 by Mike Livingston aboard the Vagabond west of Baja California, off Magdalena Bay.

In September, Guy Yocom of Dana Point, California, caught a yellowfin weighing 427.5 pounds while fishing out of Cabo San Lucas on Baja California’s tip. That catch has yet to be approved by the IGFA as an all-tackle record.

Last April, Robert Pedigo caught a yellowfin weighing 427.9 pounds but it did not qualify for a record because a crew man had touched the rod during the fight.

Petruescu’s tuna, likewise, cannot qualify as a world record because a deckhand briefly grabbed the rod at the bow to help manage the tuna around the anchor. “Had we known how big it was obviously we would have let him try to do that himself,” Fleck said.

But if the fish weighs 428 or more pounds it will become the largest yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel. (Petruescu, who is on his first-ever 16-day sportfishing excursion, used a live skipjack tuna and battled the yellowfin for two hours.)

That’ll be a big deal among those in the saltwater big-game fishing circles. It almost certainly will weigh at least 400 pounds and that in itself is impressive, considering that before Livingston caught his behemoth the previous world record, involving the catch of a 388-pound, 12-ounce tuna, had stood since 1977.

–Note: Excel Capt. Justin Fleck was interviewed Thursday night by Phil Friedman Outdoors Radio. Click on the link to hear the conversation (the Fleck interview begins at the 3:25 mark.)

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