By Jim “Chiefy” Mathie | New Pelican Writer
When Lighthouse Point resident Ruy Rodriguez caught “the fish of a lifetime” Feb. 1, his first instinct was to jump in the ocean and have his father take a picture of him next to the massive 584-pound bluefin tuna.
He then remembered that there are sharks in the ocean and quickly got back into Reel Estate, his 35-foot Everglades Center Console vessel.
The day didn’t start out targeting bluefin tuna, as this was supposed to be a swordfish trip with Ruy’s dad Charlie, along with fishing guide and “hired gun” Captain Michael Dumas. Dumas says no one really targets bluefin tuna but it’s a “nice bycatch” from a day of fishing. He’s only caught a few in his lifetime, but nothing of this size and mainly in the springtime.
The Rodriguez party left the dock at 6:30 a.m. and headed to the sword grounds off Port Everglades. It was on the third drift around 11:30 a.m. when the “buoy rod” got hit in 1,400 feet of water using freshwater eel on a Gulfstream custom rod WMD with an LP electric reel.
They knew it was a big fish as the buoy went underwater and, as they brought it close to the surface, it headed straight back down to the bottom.
Rodriguez says he “never saw a fish take that much line so quickly,” but after the first run, the fish ended up at the surface. They suspected it was a massive tuna because it caused a wake and then plummeted to the deep and back up again about a dozen times.
After about two hours, the fish narrowed its ups and downs. By tightening the drag on the LP electric reel, Rodriguez finally got the big fish to the surface.
But then it started heading for the engines, so with much maneuvering it was finally brought alongside for the “perfect harpoon shot” placed by Dumas. Now it was time for the obligatory “fish of a lifetime” picture.
Three bent and broken gaffs later as they tried for 30 minutes to get the fish into the boat, they were finally successful in pulling the head into the tuna door in the transom and securing the fish with a rope for the ride home to the Lighthouse Point Marina.
At the marina the bluefin was recorded at 584.56 pounds. Then it was a shout out to the Lighthouse Point Saltwater Sportsman Association member Steve Seigel to help filet this massive fish.
“I’ve heard of a handful of these being caught on the sword grounds but we are hearing more reports of them both out there and inshore over the past couple of years, including blowing up on kite baits during sailfish tournaments,” says Seigel. “For Ruy and his crew to not only hook one that size but land it as well is incredible and definitely combines some good luck with some extraordinary fishing skills and teamwork.”
It took three guys 90 minutes to filet and bag up the tuna, which was distributed among many friends.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, anglers are allowed only one trophy fish of a highly migratory species greater than 73 inches, per vessel with a permit, per year.
My part of the story is I’m friends with Seigel, so I ended up with a piece of that fish. I took it to the Fish Shack in Lighthouse Point for some seared tuna.
You could say this story has both a happy and delicious ending.
Excellent situation and ending!!! I know that you and everyone that got some enjoyed this tuna!!!