Bluefin tuna are off-limits to anglers in Mexico, but large schools of the powerful tuna have moved into Southern California waters, and one behemoth landed this week weighed 124.5 pounds.
The bluefin was caught by Tim Smith between the 181 and 209 banks, southeast of Catalina, aboard Capt. Larry Hartmann’s Discovery, a 30-foot Grady White.
Hartmann, 51, said the area teemed with bluefin that were leaping and looked so large from a distance that he thought they were common dolphins.
The group aboard Discovery had been kelp paddy-hopping, and had boated five yellowtail to about 25 pounds when “all hell broke loose,” Hartmann said.
The group “watched in awe as foamers of huge bluefin came up all around the boat.”
Smith reeled in his tuna after a 2-hour struggle. Chris Kerrins, who was first to hook up, lost a fish in the same size class just 15 feet from the boat.
Both anglers were not prepared to battle such large tuna–Smith was using 50-pound test, and Kerrins 40-pound test.
Said Hartmann: “Never could there have been a more brutal 4-hour battle.”
The daily bag limit for bluefin tuna off Southern California is two fish per angler.
–Photos show 125-pound bluefin at the Dana Wharf scale, and some of the fillets