EUROPEAN SPEARFISHING RECORDS ASSOCIATION
Scientific name: Thunnus obesus
Diver: Paulo Afonso
DAY AND TIME: June 23 2014 at 4:30am, LOCATION: Harbor of Madalena in PicoIsland“BLUE”: A 3 ton, fiberglass, 8.8m x 2.5m cabined boat with 2 x 150hp out-boardengines.THE CREW: Pedro Januário, Luís Ermida (Boat owners and captains), Marcelo Soaresand me (the guys in the water)
THE PLAN: Go out to the southwest side of Pico Island in pursuit of big tunas.
At 7:30am we got to a spot where we noticed the presence of many Shearwaters working thearea, a good indicator of the possible presence of tuna. Almost immediately a huge one jumpednear the boat. We were in the right place.
The sun was up in a cloudless sky with practically zero wind, some current (4 in a scale of 0 to 10) but an extremely calm sea (0.7m waves), 18-20m visibility, water temperature 19ºC.
Schools of Atlantic bonito seemed to never end near the surface. 15m below was an incrediblylarge school of yellowmouth barracudas. Coming and going were dozens of greater amberjacks(some of them over 50kg). Lots of chub mackerel crossed nervously from time to time. Thetriggerfish were also there underneath the boat. Plenty of life around, but I was there for the tuna.
No flashers or burley to attract the fish, I was only diving and waiting in open water hoping acurious tuna would pass by me. On one of my dives I had a glimpse of two large tunas passing inthe distance. I swam a bit upstream to a deeper zone, getting out of the shallow peak we wereanchored on. It was then around 11:00 am that I spotted at the distance this big tuna coming inmy direction at about 10m deep. I took a deep breath and went down trying to intercept histrajectory. Clearly a bigeye, alone and relatively calm. I leveled to his depth and waited with myspeargun collected. In just two seconds he was already passing in front of me, but not as close asI expected. Still feeling confident, I extended my speargun (Riffe Mach 5) and took a long shot. Iaimed to the rear half of the fish in an attempt to ensure a good holding shot. The shaft hit himright behind his third rear section, about 60cm ahead of its caudal fin and slightly above thecenter of that section of the fish. He took off violently and I went to the surface immediately,grabbing my second and last float.
The first 30m bungee quickly stretched taking down the rigid float, then the 15m bungee forcedthe Riffe 3 atmosphere float under. But due to the relatively shallow depths of the area(80m/120m), the tuna never had deep enough water to completely sink the entire float system. Inever lost contact with it.
Because I knew that the slip tip did not go all the way through I was worried the fish would tearoff. So I limited myself to follow and keep up with it, never putting any additional pressure onthe system. At the 15 minute mark, the hard float slowly started coming up. Only after another 15minutes I felt that the fish was tired and beginning to show signs of giving up. Very carefully, Ibegan pulling the fish up.
After another 20 minutes of pulling and letting go, I finally managed to recover all of the bungee.At my request, Marcelo passed me a 11 liter rigid float with a shark clip that I attached to the endof the bungee, leaving the tuna only a little more than the shooting line length underneath me.
From the boat, Luís threw me my unloaded gun for the second shot (Riffe Euro 130cm with reel).
I loaded the speargun and placed the shot right through his head ensuring that he was completelyout. Once at the surface I pulled the tuna up to me and took the completely subdued fish close tothe boat where I looped his tail with a 2.2m long rope. I got in the boat and after some attemptswe managed to pull it in. Finally!! I should have been tired from the one-hour fight but was just numb from the happiness with what I had just achieved.
We all agreed that this bigeye probably weighed around 100kg. Later, it was confirmed: 110.1kgon certified scale. Big smile on my face!
This was not just another fish for me. Being able to finally find and successfully land this amazing bigeye tuna in my local waters is extremely rewarding.
Santo Amaro do Pico – Azores, 01 july, 2014
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