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Rare Opah Fish Is a Pending World Record

One of three rare opah fish recently caught near southern California broke the world record for the species.

The sport-fishing world was stunned earlier this month when a trio of anglers caught a trifecta of rare opah fish on-board a charter boat in Mexican coastal waters. It’s unusual for offshore anglers to catch opah fish, a species that lives at depths out of range for most sporting tackle. So when three anglers managed to catch three of the rare fish from the same charter boat on the same day, the fishing world took notice. But the surprises in this fishing story don’t end there.

One of the opah fish caught that day looks like it’s a contender for the world record. Angler Joe Ludlow bagged the largest fish of the bunch, a 181-pounder. The current world record for the species is considerably lower, standing at roughly 163 pounds.

Ludlow plans to submit an application to the International Game Fish Association for the official world record. The other two opahs caught that day weighed 124 and 151 pounds.


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Ludlow and company were fishing aboard the Excel, a luxury sport fishing boat based out of San Diego that operates for days at a time  in Mexican waters. Captain Justin Fleck said his crew was targeting yellowtail near San Martin Island when the Opah were caught. While some anglers were fishing near the surface, Ludlow and four others were dropping their lures into deeper depths. That’s when the action started.

“The fish were pulling the guys up the rail toward the bow, and back toward the stern, then back to the bow, but they weren’t really taking any line,” Fleck told Pete Thomas of GrindTV. “We weren’t sure what they were.”

Ludlow battled his record opah fish for nearly 30 minutes and then managed to haul it on board.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.


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Rare Opah Fish Is a Pending World Record