The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) recently confirmed a new state record for Pacific bluefin tuna, which was caught by Sam Ellinger of Ellensburg back in September. According to the DFW, the Central Washington University student reeled in the fish about 28 miles offshore Grays Harbor while bait fishing with anchovies. The fish measured 41 inches long and weighed an astounding 39.20 pounds, nearly three pounds more than the previous state record.
“Catching a fish this size was pretty exhausting,” Ellinger said in a press release. “We didn’t know what we hooked until we got it on the boat.”
The college student has only been on a charter boat a handful of times, but he describes himself as an avid hunter and is considering a career in wildlife management. The Yakima Herald-Republic reported that it took a full hour for the young angler to bring the large tuna in, which happened after two and a half days of fishing in the region.
“I was ready to be done,” Ellinger recalled. “I could hardly hold the fish up once we got it on the boat.”
Pacific bluefin tuna do not get quite as big as their Atlantic cousins, especially near the state of Washington. According to the International Game Fish Association, the largest Pacific bluefin ever caught by an angler was a 739-pound, six-ounce tuna reeled in by Nathan Adams in New Zealand two years ago. Pacific bluefin tuna are relatively rare in the waters of Washington, and Ellinger said that he spent the trip catching a large number of albacore before he snagged his record fish.
Sure enough, when it came time for pictures, Ellinger was the only one holding up a bluefin while the other anglers displayed their albacore.
Image courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife