As the Excel charter fishing boat was heading back toward San Diego at the conclusion of a 16-day fishing trip with a potential world record fish onboard, about 300 onlookers came to see the scale-shattering tuna being weighed. Before the sun rose on Sunday, December 9, the angler, John Petruescu, knew he had a world record weight of 445 pounds on his hands.

The current record for yellowfin tuna stands at 405 pounds, caught by Mike Livingston on November 30, 2010 in Magdalena Bay, Baja Sur, Mexico. At the time Petruescu caught his fish, another record was in the process of certification. That fish weighed 427 pounds and was caught by Guy Yocom in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Yocom’s fish is also up for a $1 million prize since it was caught during the Mustad Hook-a-Million contest, which awards $1 million to an angler who catches a certain species on a Mustad hook during the time of the contest. For the money to be awarded, the angler must reel the fish in unaided and there cannot be a bigger fish of the same species caught within three months of the catch.

Although Petruescu caught the fish just two and a half months after Yocom, Yocom will still hold onto the record if certified. Petruescu’s name won’t be entered in the IGFA record books because the Excel‘s captain briefly grabbed the rod Petruescu used to manage the fish twice, invalidating his world record claim. No other person is allowed to touch the rod for a world record bid.

“[He] temporarily grabbed the pole for 15 or 20 seconds,” Petruescu, who caught his fish on a 12/0 Mustad hook with a Seeker 60-pound black tip rod and Shimano Tiagra 50W reel, added in a phone interview.

As for Yocom, Mustad’s Sales and Porfolio Manager Jeff Pierce said the company cannot comment as to whether he will get the $1 million or not until it’s officially certified by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).

Despite not having his name in IGFA records, Petruescu is fond of the great time he had on the trip and the giant fish he caught.

“I feel great,” Petruescu said. “I was at best hoping for a 200-pound cow to have to put on posters and walls and I ended catching the world’s largest yellowfin. Even though it’s not IGFA-certified, it still holds the record for world’s largest yellowfin on rod and reel. Everybody [on the trip] caught cows every fisherman had big, big fish.”

Image courtesy of Excel Sportfishing

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