Like the energizer bunny the big yellowfin tuna bite keeps on going and going, pleasing anglers and crew members on the long range boats out of San Diego.
The highlight aboard the Qualifier 105's January 6 - 16th ten day trip was Rick Newton landing the first 300 pound fish of 2006. On the long trip to the fishing grounds one of the anglers said, "I just want to catch a fish bigger than me." He was about 175 pounds. Newton said, "Yea, me too, but I weigh 305!" After joining the super elite 300 pounder club, Newton said, "I've always wanted a 200 pound tuna. I've been to Cabo several times, Puerta Vallarta and Panama chasing this dream. I can't believe I just caught a 300 pound tuna. I am so stoked." Rick went straight passed the cow category and caught a 300 pound giant before he even got his 200 pound cow. This was his first long range trip, his first tuna over 100 pounds and his first fish of the trip. For all guys who have been fishing for 20 years and still don't have a cow, you're right, there is no justice. Rick congratulated the Qualifier 105 crew who helped coach and land the beast. Congratulations also to Rick!!!
Frankly, without the expert crew, none of us would have landed our cows. Seventeen anglers scored a "personal best" on the trip, which saw _____ cows come through the gate. Tony Shirelli's biggest tuna before the trip was 20 pounds and on his first long range trip he branded a 210 pound cow. Tammy Holden stands 5' 1" and tamed a 7 foot, 200# plus monster on her first long range trip. There are too many personal bests to detail, but I have to also throw in mine, a 235 pound giant.
Aside from the personal bests, gorgeous sunsets, great food, great commeraderie and huge fish, the most important feature of this trip was the feeling of being part of something very special. This type of fishing has never been previously experienced and may never be seen again. We may be personally witnessing a big tuna bite of historic proportions. We may be talking about this to our grandkids in 50 years from now. There are still some openings on new trips scheduled just to take advantage of this unprecedented fishing. I strongly encourage anybody and everybody to take advantage of this truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Call your favorite long range boat, book a spot, and join the cow club. Happy wrangling.
Congratulations to the jack pot winners:
- Rick Newton 320.7
- Ron Reece 250.6
- Paul Rubio 246.0
Honorable mention goes to Paul Marquez for his 298 pound beast, caught on the kite and not eligible for the jackpot.
One important footnote: Against all the advice and rules of engagement from the crew one angler insisted on using light gear. Anglers were hooking and landing fish on 200 and 300 pound leader and 100 and 130 pound main line. This angler hooked one fish on 50 pound gear and was being spooled. The crack Qualifier 105 crew immediately went into action and engaged the back up gear. The fish ripped 400 yards from the first reel and another 600 yards of line from the back up gear. The epic battle took 2 and a half hours. The angler has a great fish story but the other 29 anglers were annoyed having to wait after the bite fizzled for the captain to start the engines and chase down the fish so this selfish angler could land his fish. Who else may have been robbed of a fish of a lifetime will never be known. But, please, when the crew says nothing less than 100 pound line and a 200 pound leader, it's not just good advice to increase your odds at landing a trophy fish, it's common courtesy as well.
Again, thanks to Brian Sims and his expert crew on the Qualifier 105 for their hospitality, advice and help in making our dreams come true.