Destin's No Name crew lands massive bluefin tuna over Easter weekend
The crew aboard the Destin boat No Name with Capt. Jake Matney made a name for themselves over the Easter weekend by pulling in an 800-plus pound bluefin tuna.
After a 4 1/2-hour fight and then another almost two hours of pulling and tugging to get it secured on the 50-foot boat, the No Name landed a sea monster.
The bluefin tuna weighed in at 832.2 pounds and measured 113.5 inches long and 86 inches around the girth.
“That’s a dang pig,” Matney said after describing the weight and measurements.
The biggest bluefin tuna on record with the International Game and Fish Association is a 1,496-pounder caught in 1979 out of Nova Scotia, Canada. In 2017, You Never Know brought an 826.8-pounder into Destin and is the current Florida record.
Matney said they were not going to try to qualify for the record, but that catching a big bluefin was just on his “bucket list” of things to do. Mission accomplished.
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Matney had taken his wife, Jennifer and two boys, Jacob and Jeremiah, along with his first mate Jett Tolbert and deckhand Devin Sarver out for a weekend fishing trip. They left Friday evening before Easter.
“We were just billfishing, doing what we do,” Matney said.
They hooked about a 150-pound yellowfin tuna about 10 a.m. Saturday.
“We got him up to the boat and was about one wrap away from getting a gaff in him” when they lost him, Sarver said.
Then at about 1 p.m. they got the bite of a lifetime.
“The reel just started screaming. It was epic … just taking out line,” Sarver said.
Tolbert was on the rod when the tuna took the bait. They were using a Shimano Tiagra 80-wide with 130-pound main line and 200-pound fluorocarbon leader.
“I could tell it was a bluefin. We were blue marlin fishing, but I could just tell by the way it was running that it wasn’t a blue marlin,” Tolbert said.
Matney said the fish did two to three giant head shakes. “We knew what it was then,” he said.
It was about an hour into the fight before they got a visual ID on the fish.
“It came up and rode on the top. ... We got a good look at him and then he went down. Then it was just a lot of work after that,” Matney said.
“A lot of hard work,” Tolbert added.
“I had two gloves on my left hand and it still wore through (the gloves) with me pulling on it. I had 40 pounds of drag, plus me pulling on it with my hand … it was pretty insane,” Tolbert said.
At one point the fish went down about 700 feet, Tolbert said.
Matney explained that when you hook a big one like that, they dive first and then they come up on top.
“They get real erratic, just changing directions real fast. ... You have to chase them down and get on the leader if you can,” he said.
When the tuna made that first appearance about 60 feet of the stern, Sarver said they were just “shellshocked.”
“It was a big tuna. ... It was serious,” he said. “The drag never slowed down, it was epic.”
After about 4 ½ hours they got the fish to the boat, kind of.
“We freaking tried for two hours to get it in the boat,” Tolbert said.
Matney said there was a boat nearby. They tried to radio it first, but didn’t get an answer.
“So, we drove over and we’ve got this sea monster hanging out the back,” Matney said.
Two or three guys from the other boat jumped in and helped to get the tuna aboard.
“We never could get him all the way in the boat,” Matney said.
“We did everything we could to get him in, but we wound up just tying him off and headed back to Destin,” Tolbert added.
Tolbert said from the tuna’s peck fins to its head was out of the boat.
“A couple of hundred pounds of him was sitting out the door. It was pretty insane,” he added.
Even after they had the fish mostly in through the tuna door, they guessed the fish to be 650 to 700 pounds.
They headed back to Destin and to their slip behind Ships Chandler. They got back after midnight, but were down at HarborWalk Marina early Easter Sunday morning to weigh the fish.
“When we drug it off the boat and, in the water, to lift him to weigh him ... he was a fatty,” Matney said.
Apparently, the big tuna drew an early morning crowd.
Sarver said family, friends and even security people had gathered around to see the fish.
“It was like feeding a seagull at the beach … everybody flocked in,” Sarver said.
When the scales registered at 832.2 pounds, the crew was stoked.
“I had called it at 600 pounds … but I was glad I guessed wronged. I was beyond stoked,” Tolbert said.
“It was big. It was big. I could’ve have put my head inside his mouth. His mouth was just insane,” he added.
it was the first bluefin tuna for all three fishermen.
“It was epic. ... I’ll think about that forever,” Sarver said.
For Matney, he was thankful his crew and family could experience the catch of a lifetime.
“I was just stoked that my kids and wife were there and we all got to experience that. I couldn’t have picked any other people I would have wanted to do that with.
“It’s still all sinking in.”