Sometimes you get the fish and sometimes the fish gets you. Last Friday, 54-year-old Anthony Wichman was fishing 14 miles off the shore of Kauai in the Hawaiian archipelago when he hooked a 230-pound ahi tuna. He won the hour-long fight that ensued, but not without a last act of resistance from the fish. As Wichman attempted to bring the tuna on board, it suddenly dived and overturned his 14-foot boat.
“In his mind, he thought he was dying, that he was gone,” daughter Anuhea Wichman told KHON.” But he thought about his family, thought about his first grandson, which is my son. That was his motivation. He had to survive.”
The incident happened when Wichman gaffed the tuna in the eye, causing it to convulsively dive straight down. When it did, a line attached to the struggling fish hooked around Wichman’s ankle and took him along. While underwater, the angler was able to free himself and cling to the side of the boat. Thankfully, Wichman had brought along a waterproof phone and was able to call his daughter, who in turn notified the Coast Guard.
“All I could hear was him hyper-ventilating and puking. And through his breathing, he was able to say three words: sinking, Coast Guard, and buoy,” Anuhea said.
The Coast Guard had an easy time of locating Wichman through the GPS positioning of his phone. A rescue helicopter was sent to his boat and the angler was hoisted up to safety. Strangely enough, when friends of Wichman arrived to tow his boat they also found the tuna still on the line.
“It seriously is a miracle,” said fellow angler Abraham Apilado, who participated in the search for Wichman. “Everything that could [have] went wrong went wrong. But at the end, everything that could have gone right, [went] right at the end.”
File image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration