COPRUS CHRISTI, Texas — Setting out 150 miles offshore, captain Justin Drummond and his crew got a bite from a bluefin tuna last week.
It was one he says they wouldn't let get away.
“We drive the boat around him trying to catch him very quickly," Drummond said. "Then, he sounded on us then it became that brutal epic battle that ended up taking 9 hours."
The struggle began at around 9 a.m. Drummond says he missed the chance to catch something like this last year when his crew had already met the quota of fish caught in the Gulf.
“You spend all this time and all this money on diesel fuel and bait expense and what it takes to go out there and do this and when you're connected to something like this, people just want to rush," he says.
Rush they didn't, making no progress for the first few hours. Drummond says the angler was exhausted.
“Then we had to attach the harness to the chair so he could let the pressure of his legs and break for 15 to 20 minutes at a time," says Drummond.
Suddenly there was a breaking point. As they started to reel the fish in, it was a morale booster for Drummond and his crew. Then they finally pulling this massive fish onto the boat.
“Tuna can only breathe when they’re swimming actively, so if it can't move anymore it can't get the oxygen it needs,” says Simon Brandt, an assistant professor for the Department of Marine Science at the University of Texas.
Pulling into Fisherman's Wharf around midnight, they weighed this catch. It was recorded at 876 pounds, measuring 114 inches long and 84 inches in girth.
“Generally speaking this is an individual based on its size we can infer it is more than 20 years of age," Brandt said. "It’s an old fish for this particular species."
The next question on Captain Drummond's mind was what to do with this bluefin tuna. Wyatt Hickman at Fisherman's Wharf helped with the fish clean.
"All in all, from start to finish, it took about 3 and a half hours," says Hickman.
Drummond says the estimated 600 pounds of fish meat went to his crew members, clients of Ventura Excursions, friends and family.
Brandt provided more information about the bluefin tuna.
"I believe this was a female tuna," Brandt said. "And if I had to put a number on this female given its size it would have probably spawned about 45 million eggs so that’s 45 million potential new tuna and that would be spawned into the water."