Bluefin tuna could smash the Virginia state record.
Old Dominion could have a new bluefin tuna record if a charter captain's awesome catch is certified by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.
The process of certifying the fish for the record has already begun. Jake Hiles landed the monstrous, 708-pound, 114-inch long fish on February 16 with a friend. If certified, it would smash the record of 606 pounds set by Hiles' friend Chase Robinson five years earlier.
This had to be an emotional catch for Hiles. The Virginian-Pilot reports Robinson died shortly after Hiles helped him with that previous record-breaking catch.
"I always thought since Chase's passing that it would be fitting if one of Chase's friends broke his record," Hiles told the publication.
Hiles was specifically targeting record-sized fish. He and friend Jeff Landis were fishing approximately 80 miles off Rudee Inlet, an area that has produced giant fish for the captain in the past. He told the Virginian-Pilot that he usually doesn't give up until he catches a big one. This fishing trip was no exception.
The trip started out slowly. The two men had issues with another tuna swimming into the boat's propeller and they had to free a dolphin tangled in the line. Most anglers might have called it a day right there, but not Hiles and Landis. Instead, the two fishermen stayed out all night and finally, at 4:17 a.m. the next morning, they had two strikes at the same time. Landis reeled in the first one, which was a 100-pound mako. They cut that fish free to focus on the other rod because they realized there was a giant bluefin on the line.
The Virginian-Pilot reports the giant fish nearly spooled the reel, which had nearly a mile's worth of line on it. Surprisingly, it only took about an hour to fight and land it from there.
One cool aspect of this story is how many people benefitted from this catch. Instead of buying a new, industrial-sized freezer, Hiles cut the fish up on the dock and unselfishly gave all the meat away. Hundreds of people showed up to take a piece of the giant tuna home for dinner. Hiles posted photos of the crowd and fish on the Facebook page for his charter business, Matador Sport Fishing.
Congratulations on your awesome catch Jake from all of us here at Wide Open Spaces!