Pending state-record yellowfin caught out of Grand Isle
West Delta gives up 251-pound tuna, crushes existing state record.
The pending state-record yellowfin tuna was as big as the young angler who landed it. The 251-pounder was hauled in out of the West Delta area south of Grand Isle by 22-year-old Elliot Sale of New Iberia.
The catch of the 251-pound yellowfin by New Iberia's 22-year-old Elliot Sale will, if certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, break an eight-year-old record.
The previous mark was held by Anthony Taormina, who landed a 240.19 pound yellowfin in March 2005 at the Midnight Lump off the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Click here to see the official Louisiana Fish Records.
Sale’s fish was caught in the West Delta area, about 30 miles offshore of Grand Isle. He was fishing with cut pogie in about 150 to 200 feet of water when the yellowfin was hooked. The young angler employed a J & M custom rod and a Shimano 50 Tiagra reel spooled up with 80-pound monofilament line on top of 130-pound braid.
Not only did the fish’s weight stun onlookers at the Bridge Side Marina scales, but it also measured an incredible 79 inches long and carried a girth of 51 ˝ inches.
In other words, it was a fish much larger than Sale, who stands 5 foot 9 and weighs 155 to 160 pounds “on a good day,” he said.
Sale was fishing aboard the boat “Recovery Suite,” a 29-foot Twinzee captained by Blake Fouquier. Fouquier’s father Kim also was aboard, as were Paul Migues and Blake Patterson. The group fishes together often, and has had success catching large yellowfins in the past.
But Sale’s most-recent catch is one they’ll be talking about for years.
“It was a freak of nature,” Sale said of the giant fish. “When it bit, I knew it was big. We’ve seen some 200s before, and caught 180s, 190s, a 200.
“But Lord, have mercy! This one was huge.”
And it wasn’t the only monster fish boated aboard the “Recovery Suite” that day. Patterson hooked into another yellowfin at approximately the same time as Sale.
Patterson’s fish weighed 187 pounds, Sale said. Five minutes later, Sale’s fish came aboard.
“We estimated it took about an hour and 15 minutes (to get the biggest fish on the boat,) Sale said. “And I can’t tell you how much everyone onboard helped. Blake Fouquier was positioning the boat for us. The others were helping with the belts and harnesses, bringing us water.”
The big fish didn’t make that catch easy.
“When mine hit, I got the rod and he went straight down,” Sale said. “It took me a while to reel up the excess line. Then, he began doing that ‘tuna circle’ around the boat. He’d go from 200 feet of water to the surface.”
Fighting the fish while it was in the water was only part of the effort, however.
“Blake (Fouquier) gaffed it, I took my rod and reel and put in the holder, then Paul Migues gaffed it, as well. It took all five of us on the count of three to get it to the side of the boat. We counted to three again and put him on the floor.
“Then all hell broke loose. We were giving high fives. I was slipping over the fish. I wish we had video of it.”
Another chore was getting nearly 450 pounds of tuna into the 500-quart cooler for the ride back to Bridgeside.
“Blake’s (tuna) was on the bottom; mine was on top. We couldn’t close the cooler. We tied rope around the lid so it wouldn’t slide out. It was a feat of engineering, for sure,” Sale joked.
On the way to shore, Patterson checked the state record for yellowfin on his smart phone.
“When he said it was 240, I knew it would be close,” Sale said. “After Blake’s weighed 187, we figured we might as well call the (Louisiana Department of) Wildlife & Fisheries to bring a certified scale and measuring board.
‘My fingers were crossed when we hung him up on the big hook. Once it said 251, it was nuts.”
Sale, who studies industrial engineering at South Louisiana Community College and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, realizes that by landing such a big yellowfin he may have reached the zenith of his fishing life. Even if that proves to be the case, he has a heck of a story to tell friends and family for years to come.
“It’s an incredible fish, but I do realize that it couldn’t have been done without the crew that was with me,” Sale said. “But yeah, this will be hard to beat.”
As for the fish?
“Cleaned it,” Sale said. “There was so much tuna, it was crazy. But I’m giving my share to my boss. He said he’d have a mount of it made if I gave him the fish.
“That was the agreement and I don’t mind one bit.”
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