The likely new California record bluefin tuna will, if confirmed, break the state’s 33-year-old record by 75 pounds!
At 4 a.m. last week, three freedivers headed out to a location off the southern California coast called Dana Point. Their goal was to try to find one of the schools of large bluefin tuna that had been reported in the area in recent weeks.
Several hours later, Aaron Shook, Jon Walla and Dominic Vadala finally spotted their quarry, a large school of big tuna working near the surface. Shook had long wanted to spear a large bluefin, and he and Vadala entered the sea with spears in hand while Walla manned the 21-foot boat.
As Shook and Vadala began a breathhold dive to 80-feet, where they say they spotted “flashes of color,” the school began to head towards the surface on an intercept path with the divers.
Shook took a shot at about 25 feet at a large tuna that stood out from the rest, causing the school to scatter. His buoyed spear hit home and Shook recalled that the big tuna “torpedoed down like a sub.”
The two hunters surfaced and followed the buoy for 20 minutes before Shook dove again and speared the beast again, and then again. Finally the bluefin had weakened enough for the divers to subdue and boat it.
Upon bringing it into the boat, the three men were slack-jawed at the size of the fish.
“Then we traded high fives,” Shook said. “There was plenty of elation and, I must say, quite a bit of relief. It was like living a dream.”
The tuna weighed in at 173.3 pounds, crushing the current state record of 98 pounds set by Terry Maas back in 1982. Barring any irregularities, Shook’s fish should soon be declared the new California state record bluefin tuna.