The tuna fishing off Venice in south Louisiana near the mouth of the Mississippi River has been good since autumn. And veteran Capt. Chad Audibert had been catching plenty of yellowfins and bigeyes.
But on Dec. 9 fishing started slow for Audibert and his crew of five visiting anglers from Texas and his pair of resident boat hands.
“We started live baiting almost 60 miles offshore, and that didn’t work,” says the 28-year old Slidell, La. native who runs a 39-foot Yellowfin boat for VooDoo Charters. “So, we changed tactics to chunking with baits, but we still weren’t getting much. So we started fast trolling plugs to locate some tuna.”
Using a variety of five lures in their trolling spread, the anglers finally caught a pair of small wahoo that were released. About 30 minutes later a giant of a tuna hit a 10-mph trolled pink Halco lure.
“We were trolling around a drill ship that was holding some tuna under it when the fish hit, and we knew right away it was a big one,” Audibert explains.
Early into the 1.5-hour battle, Audibert says the tuna kept coming up near the drill ship, which was a tip-off to him the fish likely was a bigeye, simply from the way it fought.
“We tried to work the fish away from the drill ship, and it stayed pretty shallow, down only about 150 feet,” he said. But about half-way into the fight the fish went deep and almost dumped the reel of line, taking about 600-feet of 100-pound test line,”
But they were able to stop the fish, gain line, and continue the epic battle. None of the anglers on board could handle the tough tuna, so they shared fighting the fish, which immediately disqualified the catch as a potential record, as only one angler is allowed to handle a fishing rod during a fight.
The anglers fought the tuna over four miles off the Louisiana coast, finally bringing it boatside where mate Colby Briley hit the fish with a gaff, followed by a second gaff delivered by deck hand Chelsea Hagan.
They hauled the massive bigeye tuna aboard their Yellowfin boat, and the five Lone Star anglers were stunned at its size and power.
“This was our fist time fishing offshore out of Venice, but we never imagined catching such a tuna,” said angler Holden Light. “We were very fortunate to land this once in a lifetime trophy fish.”
Other Texas anglers aboard that day in addition to Holden were Martin Gonzalez, Jeremy Workman, Tom Cavazos and Blas Castillo.
After the fish was boated the anglers ran back to Cypress Cove Marina in Venice to weigh the tuna, which scaled 207 pounds. That’s just shy of the state record for bigeyes, which is a 213.5-pounder, caught by Brian Neil in Sept. 2018.
The IGFA record for Atlantic bigeye tuna is a massive fish 392-pound, 6-ounce fish, caught off Spain in July 1996 by angler Dieter Vogel.