When John Petruescu disembarks from the Excel on Sunday morning in San Diego, he probably will do so as the angler who has landed the largest yellowfin tuna on rod and reel.
Petruescu is on his first-ever 16-day fishing expedition out of San Diego and was fishing at Hurricane Bank (960 miles southwest of San Diego), when he caught a massive tuna that will not be weighed until the vessel reaches Fisherman's Landing at about dawn Sunday.
However, in a satellite telephone interview, skipper Justin Fleck revealed that the yellowfin "taped out" at 459 pounds via a time-tested measurement formula that usually is fairly accurate.
This revelation is surprising because the Excel has been listing the estimated weight at 400 pounds on its Facebook page.
But the reasoning is understandable. The lesser estimated weight was provided in case the tape measurement formula turns out to be way off the mark, and the fish ends up weighing considerably less when placed on the scale Sunday morning.
"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 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 struggling 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 still will become the largest known yellowfin ever landed on rod and reel. (Petruescu, 33, used a live skipjack tuna and battled the yellowfin for two hours. It pulled him around the deck two times and was ultimately gaffed at the stern.)
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.