Standing 6-feet 1-inch tall and weighing-in at 270 pounds, 18-year-old Kyle Boyd scrapped with a monster yellowfin tuna Friday morning for more than three hours in what turned out to be a pretty evenly-matched classic heavyweight bout.
But the recent graduate of Magnolia West High School in Magnolia, Texas, accomplished just that when he reeled in the massive tuna during the second day of the 2016 Creole Classic out of Grand Isle that — if certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association — will become the new No. 3-ranked yellowfin in the state.
“I told all the family it’s been a long while since I caught a fish bigger than me,” Boyd said with a chuckle.
Boyd’s monster measured 78 inches long, with a girth of 52 inches, and tipped the scales at Bridge Side Marina at a whopping 239.5 pounds.
He was fishing with family members on his grandfather Dickie Robichaux’s 32-foot Donzi Friday morning about 50 miles offshore when the tuna swallowed a live hardtail. The group had set out from Grand Isle about 6 a.m.
“I had never caught a tuna before, so my cousin and godfather decided I’d have first shot, so they put me on him,” Boyd said. “At first we weren’t sure what it was, so we had the drag a little tighter than we should have. And it still almost spooled us.”
They were drifting and chumming behind shrimp boats in the Grand Isle Blocks when the tuna hit about 9 a.m., he said.
Boyd took a deep breath when asked to recount what it felt like during the three-hour, 45-minute battle that it took to finally gaff the big tuna. He battled the fish with a bent-butt rod and Shimano 50 wide reel.
“It was almost like I was trying to pick up a ton off the bottom,” he said. “It would come up about 20 feet or so and then it would just stop, and I could not get it up higher for the longest time.
“We just went back and forth. It was frustrating to say the least.”
Everyone on board knew the fish was a monster, but nobody got a look at it until it finally got near the boat.
“We didn’t have a clue,” Boyd said. “We knew it was abnormally big, but we didn’t know it was a state record or anything.”
When the tuna was finally gaffed, Boyd got a little breather — but not for long.
“It was still about 90-percent alive when we gaffed it, so it almost tried to take off again and pull the guy out of the boat,” he said. “For about a second, I was really happy because I could relax.
“Then I realized I had to help them get it in the boat.”
With the big tuna finally on ice, the group decided to see if they could catch another monster — a decision that might have cost Boyd the No. 2 spot in the record books. Anthony Taormina caught a 240.19-pounder on the Midnight Lump in 2005 that will stay at No. 2, barely half-a-pound heavier than Boyd’s fish. (The state record yellowfin was caught by Elliot Sale in the West Delta Block in 2012 and weighed-in at 251 pounds.)
“If we would have come in right after I caught it instead of trying to catch another tuna, we would have probably beat the second-place record,” he said. “But we did catch a 50-pound blackfin.”
At the weigh-in Friday afternoon at Bridge Side Marina, Boyd said a biologist figured the big tuna was probably 6 or 7 years old.
“She said they don’t get as old as most people think they do,” he said.
After the epic battle, Boyd decided to take the final day of the rodeo off.
“Saturday morning I woke up and that’s kind of when everything hit me that I would be in the state record book and all,” he said. “I just kind of walked around with a grin on my face all morning.”
The fish was cleaned, but Boyd said his grandfather plans on getting a replica mount to commemorate the first- place Creole Classic tuna, and presumably the new No. 3-ranked yellowfin in the state.
“The fish itself is split up between about 10 freezers right now, and we still have plenty,” Boyd said. “The plan is we’re grilling it today.”