Going Long and Going Big: Ali Chahine’s 364-Pound Yellowfin Tuna on First Long Trip
By Frank Lo Preste
One of the common questions we receive from anglers is whether they should make a seven-to-ten day trip before tackling one of our longer trips. I’ve typically suggested these mid-range trips as good stepping stones. One passenger’s experience on the Royal Polaris’s March 15th Jerry Brown line one 18-day, 18-passenger trip has changed my thinking.
The Royal Polaris departed March 15th with Ali Chahine on board. Ali made his first trip aboard the Royal Polaris on September 26th 2014, which was a 3-day and his longest trip ever. When he returned from that very successful 3-day trip he was so fired up that he put his name down on standby list for the March 15th trip. Due to a cancelation he got on the trip in January. He quickly outfitted himself and on March 23rd he caught his biggest tuna ever which was over 100 lbs. He was quite thrilled as before that his biggest fish was a 15-pound bluefin tuna.
On March 24th in the early morning Ali broke his own record with a 221-pound yellowfin tuna. On the same day, during lunch, Ali pinned on a puffer fish, threw it out, engaged the clicker on and put the rod in a trolling strap around the rail. He ran into the galley to get a couple bites of his cheeseburger. While he was in the galley, the clicker went off, and a crewman threw the reel in gear. Ali came out, grabbed the rod out of the trolling straps, and began his battle. Because Ali had a bad spot in his spectra from the previous fish, Captain Jonathan Yamate elected to put him in the skiff to fight what ended up being a 364-pound giant yellowfin tuna. To my knowledge, Ali’s fish is the second largest tuna ever caught at Hurricane Bank. The next morning, on March 25th, Ali landed another beauty at 219 pounds.
Back in 1978 about two weeks before I took ownership of the Royal Polaris, Steve Loomis had an unbelievable night and morning in the anchorage of Clarion Island. In one morning before daybreak, the boat landed 11 yellowfin tuna over 300 pounds. He had no idea of how many over 200 pounds they had because, back then they only counted the true “cows,” fish over 300 pounds. Today 300 pounds is a “super cow.” For those wondering, it was who made Tim Ekstrom’s superb suggestion that inspired the fleet to start counting 200 pounders. On that epic morning in 1978, an angler from Hawaii on his first long range trip caught three fish over 300 pounds. When Steve Loomis dealt him his jackpot money, he told Steve that he didn’t feel he would ever come back because he had more than accomplished his goals and felt he could never do any better.
Although I still think mid-range trips are a good transition to longer trips, my thinking today is that so long as you can cast, tie line, and listen to the crew, then you are a viable candidate for a 13-to-18 day trip
Frank Lo Preste