Robert Smith broke the bluefin tuna record, and had a week to celebrate before that record was broken too.
A couple weeks ago, on April 2, Robert Smith of Manteo, North Carolina became the new Virginia state record holder for bluefin tuna. Smith caught a 576.5-pound goliath that firmly bested the previous state record of 573 pounds by 3.5 pounds. Exciting stuff to be sure.
But what makes Smith’s record even more memorable is the length of time he held it: not even a week. It wasn’t but five days later, April 7, that Chase Robinson of Virginia Beach crushed Smith’s oh-so-recent record by 29.5 pounds with a 606-pound even bigger goliath of his own.
In addition to catching their record fish so close together, the two shared similar stories of being under-equipped with gear for such large bluefin and battling for about 5½ hours before getting the fish into the boat. Each fish also pulled their angler’s boats several miles out to sea (12 miles for Smith’s boat and 17 miles for Robinson’s), and each tuna measured close to 102 inches in length.
Both anglers also reported their respective battles as brutal tests of physical and mental endurance.
Smith described his fight, “It made four big runs and nearly spooled us twice. It was an epic battle.”
Robinson, in turn, reported, “It took all six of us. After we secured it, it took another hour to get it in the back of the boat. I hit a wall about two hours in, but everybody kept me going. My hands are all blistered up.”
Smith was nonchalant in his reaction to the short-lived nature of his record.
“For bluefin tuna, these aren’t really big fish,” he said. “It is what it is and records were meant to be broken. The fish are still south and there is plenty of time for our guys to get on them. If somebody is out there really fishing for the record, it will be broken again. Maybe several more times.”