A 16-year-old’s skipjack tuna caught just of Hatteras Island, North Carolina is a potential All Tackle IFGA Youth World Record.
Matthew Kelly, a teenager from Chesapeake, VA was fishing with his father, Patrick, over Labor Day Weekend. What started out as a normal tuna and shark fishing trip, turned out to be something quite unique—Kelly landed a 32-pound skipjack tuna which is a potential All Tackle IFGA Youth World and North Carolina record.
The previous state record, set in 1968 by J.W. Johnson Jr., was only 22 pounds 3 ounces.
A story from North Carolina Sportsman reports that the Kellys were fishing the Gulf Stream off of Hatteras Island, North Carolina in their family boat. Matthew Kelley recalled that “on Saturday the ocean was flat calm and fishing was really slow.”
But that’s when things got exciting. Kelly noted that his dad spotted some birds and tuna breaking the surface, so they turned toward the fish and adjusted their lines. When the Kellys finally caught up to the school of tuna, the calm and quiet morning turned into an exciting mad rush. “We had a strike on every line, and we troll a full spread even with just the two of us on the boat,” Kelly said.
The Kellys caught various fish over the weekend, including yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, and sharks. But ironically, the first rod that Kelly reeled in that Saturday morning was the one with the record skipjack on it.
Kelly said that the record-tuna didn’t fight any different than the other tunas, so they didn’t notice how large it was until they were bleeding the other tunas.
On Sunday night as the Kellys were weighing the skipjack tuna after docking at Hatteras Landing, a group of fisherman gathered and exclaimed that it was the largest skipjack they had ever seen. When the scale showed that the tuna was 10 pounds larger than the current North Carolina record, they headed to a marina with certified scales—confirming that the fish was 32 pounds.
Recognizing the source of his good fortune, Kelly said, “I’m happy to have this record, and hopefully the IGFA will approve that one, but I owe it all to my dad and wish he could get credit too. He has made time for me and been taking me fishing for about eight years now. He taught me everything I know about fishing and we have had some really good times and caught a lot of fish.”
The Kellys were using an assortment of lures, but the lure that landed the record skipjack was a green Zuker feather. The reel was a Shimano Torsa 30 mounted on a G Loomis stand-up rigged up with braided line and a mono shockleader.