Lola Crisp, a 13-year-old teenage girl from Barnstable, Massachusetts, caught a whopper of a bluefin tuna Sept. 18 while participating in a commercially-permitted tuna tournament in the famed Cape Cod fishing area.
Crisp’s tuna was unloaded from her fishing boat at Barnstable Harbor, where it weighed a staggering 591-pounds, according to CAI, a Cape Code National Public Radio station.
Crisp pocketed $8,500 for winning the event. Each boat paid an $800 tourney entry fee.
Her massive tuna is the heaviest catch weighed in the Cape Cod Bay Tuna Tournament in 30 years, and Crisp is the youngest person ever to top the event. The tournament was first held in 1950 by the Cape Cod Tuna Club.
Crisp is a lifelong angler, and outdoor enthusiast, who also hunts deer, bear, and turkeys.
Roughly 75 fishermen were entered in the tournament, fishing from 19 commercially-permitted tuna boats hailing widely in Massachusetts, from Brant Rock Beach in Marshfield to Race Point Beach in Provincetown, according to CAI.
Four anglers caught bluefins during the event, Crisp with her 591-pounder, and three other anglers weighing tuna at 564-, 545-, and 468-pounds.
September is prime time for Atlantic bluefin tuna in the Northeast, which is considered a gourmet delicacy, particularly for sushi and sashimi fans.
Crisp’s catch and presumably the other three tuna also caught during the event, were quickly dressed, packed in ice and rushed to Boston for processing, as the fish are highly prized and command high prices in the commercial fish markets.
Carla Sullivan, a service manager at Millway Marina near Barnstable, told CAI that the tuna were destined for immediate air departure to Japan’s fish markets. Sullivan helped revive the commercially permitted tournament this year, as it hasn’t been held since 1988.
“The reason we did a commercial tournament is to preserve the resource,” Sullivan said to CAI. “We have a commercial tournament, so it’s done properly and regulated.”
Sullivan says commercial-permitted tuna fishing ensures that young and much smaller juvenile tuna are not harvested, with only the largest, mature fish are caught and brought to the dock, which helps preserve the tuna population.
Cape Cod is well established as a hot spot for bluefins. The record tuna for the area was caught in Aug. 1979, weighing 1,002-pounds by Barstable’s Jeanne Wood.