They say it’s better to be lucky than good.
That was the case for four captains with Mexican Gulf Fishing Company in Venice on May 3 while they were wrapping up another successful yellowfin tuna trip about 35 miles south of Port Eads.
What they stumbled upon — or actually what came to them — was a school of giant bluefin tuna.
“We had caught our last yellowfin, and we were going to go swordfishing,” said Capt. Jordan Ellis, who runs “Kimmi,” a 37-foot Freeman. “So we were dumping the rest of our baits over and I looked up and my first thought was, ‘Look at all the porpoises.’ They were literally right next to the boat eating everything we threw in the water.
“It was pretty cool.”
Once he realized he was in the middle of a mess of giant bluefin, he called fellow Mexican Gulf captains Kevin Beach, Zach Lewis and Colin Byrd, who were all in the same area catching yellowfin.
“I was like, ‘Guys, I don’t know what y’all have going on, but there’s bluefin eating right next to the boat,” Ellis said. “As soon as everybody landed the fish they were fighting, they ran over there — and it was pretty much chaos for about an hour.”
Multiple fish were hooked and lost, but when the dust settled, both Lewis and Beach’s Freemans rolled into Venice Marina with giant bluefin on board: Lewis’ measured 100 inches and tipped the scales at 528 pounds, and Beach’s measured 102 inches and weighed 543 pounds.
Ellis, who fought a giant bluefin for more than three hours before it broke the line, said even though he came up empty, it was an experience he won’t soon forget.
“There’s always some caught in the Gulf, but it’s being in the right place at the right time. There’s nothing you can be prepared for. It’s just a chance thing,” he said. “Kevin’s been doing this 25 years-plus and he’s never even seen one before, so the odds of it happening again are pretty slim.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal for sure — I’m just happy I got to witness it.”
Incredibly, Ellis got into another school of bluefin again this week. Check out the video here for some amazing footage of these giants just feet from his boat. (Some language is NSFW.)
The Louisiana state record bluefin was caught by Ron Roland in May of 2003 about 30 miles south of South Pass, and tipped the scales at 1,152 pounds. To just crack into the state’s Top 10, a bluefin would need to weigh about 752 pounds.