Jared Austin of New Orleans and a group of his friends make sure that once a year they all get together, charter a boat and go fishing. Wednesday, June 22, may make them adjust their tradition. They may want to go more often now.
The group was aiming to take advantage of the summer’s snapper season and booked a trip with Capt. Nick Campos with VooDoo Charters out of Venice Marina. But they also decided to go look for a tuna as well.
They found one.
About 10 a.m., they hooked into a massive 238.2 pound yellowfin and finally, at around 11:30 a.m., they got it in the boat. Team Tuna included Austin, Sidney Freeman of Metairie, Ryan Martin of Metairie, Ryan Solar of Gonzales, Gino Gondolfi of Covington and Bryce Delafosse of New Orleans and deckhand Lee McLean of Lake View. The fish was weighed on certified scales at Cypress Cove Marina.
They were fishing about 60 miles out and caught several nice snapper. Then the big tuna made their day.
“Most of the time, you have to drop a bait down to a tuna, but not this one. As soon as the bait hit the water, this monster nailed it,” said Austin. “He took off and pulled 90 percent of the line off the reel. We worked him in a little bit and had to change fishermen. We each got worn out and had to hand the rod off so everybody could enjoy it, but that brute put up a fight we could have only imagined. We started by holding the rod in hand, but then started using a belt and finally had to go full harness to get it in. Seven or eight times it came up and got close, but then it took off again.”
No record, no problem
Austin said he had just landed a snapper and sat down to enjoy a cold refreshment when the fish hit and made the drag scream.
“We all said, hold on, this is going to be serious,” Austin said.
One thing that makes the story interesting is that at the end of the battle, they decided to stream it live on Instagram.
“We were a little worried about sharks, but they didn’t bother us,” Austin said.
Had only one fisherman reeled in the fish, it would have been the fourth largest yellowfin tuna ever caught in Louisiana history, but since more than one angler took the reel, it can’t be counted as a record. That doesn’t bother Austin or any of his buddies. It’s a memory of a lifetime.
We had a great time and we all had some pretty big hunks of tuna to take home. That fish is gonna feed a lot of people,” he said. “And one of the best parts is that we had Bryce with us. He’s 14 years old and had never seen anything like that. It didn’t take him long to realize that fish was twice as big as he was. I’m sure he’s hooked on fishing for life now. He’s already a true fisherman. He rides his bike to City Park in New Orleans to fish all the time.”
The boat had stopped earlier and loaded up on hardtails and that is what the big fish hit.
Ready for the next one
Austin spends a lot of time on boats — big boats. He is a Baton Rouge river pilot. He also likes to fish out of a kayak, but has limited himself mostly to short trips on an infrequent basis because of family and work obligations.
“It’s funny,” he said. “Right after we got in and soaked all this in, we all started joking with each other about who’s going to buy a boat so we can do this all the time.”
The trip was cut short because of the big fish. Austin said they were all whipped and couldn’t wait to get in and weigh the fish. And of course, start telling fish stories to all their friends.
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