Fishing News

The Yellowfin Tuna That Could be Worth $1 Million for “The Lucky One”

Yocom with his catch

The California man who recently caught a yellowfin tuna weighing at least 420 pounds had set out on a mission. He wanted to catch a record-breaking fish and he did everything he could to get it.

Guy Yocom, a businessman from Dana Point, is now awaiting official certification from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) that would declare his tuna as a new world record. The organization is currently in the final stages of determining the official weight since two separate scales weighed the fish at 421.5 pounds and 427, respectively.

If it is certified, Yocom, 55, will win a stunning $1 million for the catch. He may very well be the only angler to have won the money in this year’s Mustad Hook-a-Million contest. Yocom thought ahead of time, entered the contest and caught his fish with a Mustad hook. The contest awards $1 million to the angler who catches the first world record of a limited list of eligible species during the duration of the contest, which ended on September 30, 2012.

Yocom caught the fish just in time on September 18 about 200 miles south of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Immediately after the scales returned two different weights, Yocom made moves to certify the scales, a condition of world record certification. The final weight of the fish is still being determined based on which scale is accurate. It was sent to the United States for certification and the results will be announced soon. IGFA World Record Coordinator Jack Vitak said that while there were no red flags that would deter Yocom from becoming the record holder, the official weight must just be determined.

Both of the recorded weights would break the current record for yellowfin. Angler Mike Livingston holds the title for now, with a 405-pound fish he caught at Magdalena Bay, Baja Sur, Mexico in November 2010.

Yocom was fishing from his boat named El Suertudo, or “the lucky one” in English. Yet, it wasn’t just luck that may put his name in the record books. Since he first heard the announcement of the contest in October 2011, Yocom began thinking about how to win that $1 million. Another tuna that weighed 427.9 pounds that was caught in April by another crew would have taken eliminated the competition, but two men from the crew touched the rod, effectively invalidating the record. It was never even submitted to the IGFA for consideration. That only encouraged Yocom more, who knew other big fish were out there.

El Suertudo stays at Cabo San Lucas and is always prepped and ready to go fishing at a moment’s notice thanks to its captain, Greg Di Stefano. The crew has been known to send line samples to Vitek to make sure everything is within regulation.

On a day of so-so weather, Yocom and his crew set out kites rigged with caballito, green jacks and dead flying fish in front of a school of porpoise. Nothing caught so they put out chunk bait on a Mustad hook. At 10:45 a.m., a massive fish went for the bait. Yocom is an experienced fisherman and just 50 minutes into the fight, the fish was at the surface and the crew sunk IGFA-approved gaffs into it to pull it aboard.

The fish was seven-and-a-half feet long and beat Yocom’s personal best by a few hundred pounds. The IGFA is expected to make a decision in a week or two based on witness accounts and other information validating his catch. Within the next few days, Yocom can expect to be a million dollars richer.

Rodney Ply, an Arkansas angler, is still awaiting a decision on his appeal to the IGFA about a record-breaking fish he caught in February. The IGFA has already ruled that the lure he used is not in compliance, but Ply has appealed the decision, which is currently being decided upon by the IGFA’s executive board.

Image courtesy of Jack Vitek/IGFA

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