A massive 683.5-pound bluefin tuna was the highlight of the Louisiana Gulf Coast Billfish Classic weigh-in at Grand Isle’s Hurricane Hole Marina on May 2.
The crew of the “Devotion” — captained by Jason Hallmark — caught the behemoth, and went 4-for-4 on blue marlin hookups, winning the competition. A video of the giant fish as it was weighed at the marina became something of a sensation on social media last week.
“(Bluefin) tuna don’t count in the tournament,” explained Robbie Carter, director of the event. They are weighed as a courtesy to the competitors and for the benefit of the spectatorship. People love it. I mean, these things were absolutely enormous.”
Three other teams weighed tuna during the tournament.
Although Carter said he is used to seeing big tuna, he enjoys the excitement that they bring to the crowds at his events.
“It’s always cool to see people encounter these things for the first time up-close, especially the kids,” he said, “for them to see just how massive these things are up close and personal.”
A solo battle
The boat that caught the sensational tuna is relatively new as a competitive unit. The owner, Josh Tice of Orange Beach, Ala., acquired the boat from Texas in October 2020, but the crew had only logged about 2 months in the craft before the big win last weekend.
“We only fought (the tuna) for an hour and 45 minutes,” said Jason Hallmark of Destin, Fla., Devotion’s captain. “The owner hooked it and got it in all by himself. Most of the time, the mates hook the fish, then walk the rod over to the chair, but he did it all himself; that was pretty cool.”
Devotion was fishing live bait for Blue Marlin when it hooked the bluefin.
“We got a bite on one rod, but before we could wind the other rod up all the way to the boat, we had another one on,” Hallmark said. “So we decided we were going to go after the one that had the most line on the reel still.”
Eventually, the second fish broke off.
“It was probably for the best,” Hallmark said. “Trying to deal with two of those things of that size is almost impossible, so it worked out for us.”
“It was pretty neat,” he said. “The owner wanted to get the fish mounted, so he sent it to Oklahoma City to a place called Skulls Unlimited to have a bone mount done of it,” Hallmark said. “This will be the second (sporting bone mount) of a bluefin ever done in the world.”