What an awesome sportfishing charter we had today. We landed a 165 pound yellowfin tuna, almost unheard of fishing out of Fort Lauderdale. We fought the fish for over 3 hours on a light rod, a TLD 25 Shimano strung with 40 pound ANDE monofilament. The tuna ate a live goggle eye out of the kite in about 150 foot of water, 1 mile offshore of Fort Lauderdale. It was an awesome catch by Capt. Mike and mate Tyler aboard the Keeping It Reel, one of Fishing Headquarters sportfishing charter boats.
It was a windy day today, a little rougher than it normally is here in Fort Lauderdale. 15-20 knot winds out of the SSE making the seas 3-5 feet in height. It was a perfect day for kite fishing. We set the kites in about 180 foot of water to start, just south of the sea buoy. Not much action to start. We had a nice kingfish come up early and skyrocket on a mullet we had out of the long bait. The kingfish jumped straight up on the bait, cutting it in half and jumping at least 8 feet in the air. He chopped the bait and never came back for the other half. We changed the bait out with a goggle eye and reset the left kite. Almost an hour had passed without any action. We were about to change tactics and try something different but Capt Mike spotted a friggate bird flying above us and said let’s give it 15 more minutes.
We hadn’t seen them in the distance at all, but all of a sudden, there wasn’t 1 friggate bird above us but 4. 4 Friggate birds flying above you when you are fish is a GOOD sign. Tyler grabbed a spinning rod and pitched out a live pilchard. Within seconds a mahi-mahi swam directly over to the bait and gobbled it down. With one of the anglers fighting a mahi-mahi, Tyler grabbed another spinning rod and pitched out another pilchard. Again, it wasn’t seconds that passed before a mahi-mahi was all over it…hooked up again with another dolphin. Then, out of the side of our vision, we saw an explosion on the left long goggle eye.
The splash the fish made on the bite pushed a wake. We saw a splash, whitewater all around were the bait once was, and a wake pushed circularly outward as if I just threw a big boudler in the water at that spot. The left long, left in strike with the clicker on, started zinging as if the reel was in free spool. The kite plunged toward the water and almost dunked, just as the line snapped free from the kite release clip. We were still fighting 2 dolphin, each 10 pounders or better on spinners at the time too. Kamie Augusting, the angler on the big fish, go into the fighting chair. Tyler tightened the drag on the 2 dolphin we were fighting and told those anglers to horse ’em up, “We gotta make ’em or break ’em right now so we can chase this fish down”. Meanwhile, this monster fish er have on is taking drag as if we have it in freespool.
Both the dolphins came up quick and we flipped them both into the box like they were little schoolies. Both dolphin were in the 10 pound range. This monster fish, we still don’t know what it is yet is still spooling us. We’re still only 1-2 minutes into hooking this fish. Capt Mike starts backing the boat up in near full throttle. We took some massive waves over the transom, backing into the 3-5 footers. The fish was still taking line, we had barely slowed it down by backing up. Capt Mike spun the boat around hard, one engine forward and one in reverse until we were about 20 degrees off the angle of the line. He put both engines into forward and throttled up. Kamie reeled like crazy and we finally began to gain some line. Tyler said he looked down at the reel at one point and saw only a couple wraps of line left on the spool.
There was some serious drag on this fish too, we had the drag hammered down for fishing with only 40 pound test. And there it went for almost 2 hours, the fish would take most of the line off the reel and we would chase the fish down and gain as much back as we could. Everyone had their guesses as to what we were fighting. In the back of my head I thought it could be a tuna, but I had never caught a giant yellowfin here in Fort Lauderdale. It was unheard of. After 2 grueling hours, we finally got the fish within sight of the boat. The gold band down its lateral side and the long streaming fins proved that this fish was indeed a monster yellowfin tuna. The fish surged several more times before coming into gaff range. Tyler gaffed him with a head shot with the first gaff, but it took 2 other gaffs and gaff men to get the fish aboard.
It was a great day of fishing in Fort Lauderdale. I had never caught a yellowfin of this size before. Few professional fishermen in Fort Lauderdale have, and almost none have accomplished the feat locally. It was the biggest yellowfin tuna I have ever seen caught in this area and I have been fishing here every single day for over 20 years. There are some awesome fish showing up in Fort Lauderdale this month. Let’s get out there and do some fishing! Tight lines everyone and good fishing. I’ll sea ya on the water.