'We had to chase it down' Ronquillo reels in first sailfish

The crew aboard the Huntress shows off a sailfish they caught and released earlier this week. Capt. Mike Graef (left) and deckhand Groovy (right) hold the fish caught by Zack Ronquillo, standing on the far right.

When there's a line in the water, there's no telling what's going to strike.

Such was the case Tuesday aboard the charter boat Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef and Groovy.

Capt. Graef said they were trolling for king mackerel, when something hit a fly line they had out.

"He hit … then he jumped," Graef said.

"We knew it was a sail or a white marlin," Graef said. But when it jumped a second time, they knew for sure it was a sailfish.

The angler on the rod was young Zack Ronquillo of Lafayette, La. He pulled the fish in on a spin cast rig with 30-pound test line.

"Once he got a taste of the hook, he didn't know what to do," Graef said of the fish that was blazing out across the water. "He took off running. He was way ahead of the boat, so we had to chase it down."

With the gut buster strapped around his waist, Ronquillo was able to get the sailfish to the boat in about 25 minutes. Capt. Graef estimated the weight of the fish at about 65 pounds.

Graef said they pulled the sailfish in, grabbed some quick photos, and then released it.

"We always make sure it has water going through the gills" when we put it back in the water, Graef said. "We saw its tail going as it swam away."

Keeping with tradition, which says an angler who lands his first billfish gets tossed into the water, Ronquillo took the plunge when he got back to the docks.

In addition to the sailfish, Ronquillo also caught a big amberjack.