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Yellowfin tuna are normally a deep-water, roaming fish found far offshore. The last time Alex Hare, a 22-year-old angler from Destin, Florida, caught a yellowfin tuna it was on rod and reel in the Gulf of Mexico near oil rigs — in 6,000 feet of water. His most recent yellowfin catch happened Sunday, August 3, when he free-gaffed an estimated 100-pound yellowfin tuna in the 8-foot deep boat basin of a Florida Keys resort.
Hare, who was staying with friends at Angler’s Reef, located near mile marker 84.5, spotted the fish swimming in the resort’s small harbor for about 20 minutes.
“At first, we saw a wake, and thought it was a tarpon,” Hare says. “We couldn’t believe that it was a yellowfin.”
Hare decided to try to catch it and rigged up a gaff. The cell-phone video shows Hare sinking a gaff into the side of the fish as it swam by the dock. A second person helped out with another gaff. The fish was hoisted on the dock and then cleaned for a feast.
“There must’ve been 100 people on the dock,” Hare says. “We cleaned it right on the dock and fed around 12 to 15 families.”
As far as what made this yellowfin swim into this unorthodox location, Hare says he is puzzled over the misdirected fish.
“I have absolutely no clue what the fish was doing there,” he says. “For sure, it was lost, and it likely would not have survived in the harbor.”
Sport Fishing Editor-in-Chief Doug Olander says that the, “warmer water temps and perhaps less dissolved oxygen could well have taken its toll on this lost, disoriented tuna.”
Beyond the free dinner, Hare also won $100 when another resort guest debated with him about the fish’s identification after initially seeing it in the water.
“‘He told me no way that was a tuna and said he would bet $100 on it,'” Hare says. “But after we brought the fish on the dock, he got his wallet out and gave me 100 bucks.”