MAINE STORIES: College Student Helps Reel in Giant Bluefin Tuna Off Maine Coast
Captain Pete Morse owns and operates Teazer Charters out of South Port Marina in South Portland. F/V Teazer is a custom Maine-built 35’ Duffy, powered by a 375 Cat diesel engine. According to Teazer Charter's part-time mate Jonah Paris, "The boat turns heads." Jonah also has a name for Captain Pete Morse, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Captain Pete Morse is THE Tuna slayer."
Jonah is a Wildlife Ecology major at the University of Maine in Orono. He says he's been fishing since he was three years old and he's familiar with the inshore species in Maine. But before being hired on Teazer, Jonah says, "I was relatively inexperienced fishing for Maine’s offshore species, only having messed around with shark and ground fish a few times with some, but limited, success."
Jonah posted a photo on Instagram under the #portlandmaine hashtag on Tuesday (July 26) of a massive giant bluefin tuna with the caption, "107 inches of sheer pleasure. 700 pounds. My first experience with a Giant Bluefin Tuna." I'm no fisherman, but I knew the fish was impressive. Here's the story behind the fish, as told by Jonah.
Maine Stories: Jonah's First Giant Bluefin Tuna
"We left the dock Sunday morning with the clients, a father and son from Central Maine, who had their hearts set on tuna fishing. Captain Pete informed them prior to leaving the dock that with tuna fishing especially, we could get set up and hook a fish within five minutes, or spend the whole day out there without any action. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Capt. Pete fishes the industry standard for tuna, Penn International 130 reels, loaded with dacron line and a monofilament top shot, on bent butt rods. We set out three baits under balloons around 10 a.m. in the vicinity of Jeffrey's Ledge and the fish took a live mackerel set at 150-feet at 1 p.m. I remember munching on pretzels and looking up in my head saying, 'There’s the yellow balloon, there's the deep bait… where’s the pink balloon?' then I heard the line sizzling out of the reel and hollered 'Fish on!'
There are no words to explain the power of an angry giant bluefin. I've never seen a fish dump a spool of line so quickly.
There are no words to explain the power of an angry giant bluefin. I've never seen a fish dump a spool of line so quickly. Immediately following a hook up, my job is to pull in the other lines as quick as possible to minimize the chance for chaos. The clients fought the fish well, taking turns on the reel, and giving each other encouragement and drinks of water and wiping sweat from each other’s eyes.
It took a full two hours from the time the fish took the bait to the time Pete stuck it with a harpoon and I got a tail rope around it. My hands were shaking as I slipped the tail rope on the fish. The sheer size of it was incredible, I’d never seen a fish that big in person. A 300-pound shark is exciting -- a 700 pound tuna is something else.
The colors on the fish were unreal -- aqua blue, silver, gold, and indigo. It got a little sketchy when a shark started nearing the boat to check out what all the blood was from. It took four of us to get the tuna through the fish door. I pointed the bow towards home and took the wheel for a short time as Pete quickly processed the fish, and got it on ice to preserve the quality.
The fish was weighed in at Vessel Services on the Portland Fish Pier, 597 lbs dressed weight (aprox. 700 lbs live weight), 107" long, and trucked off with a first class ticket to Japan.
It was an amazing experience and all that excitement and awe made it tough to go back to landscaping (my day job) Monday morning.
Captain Pete was right, tuna fishing is dangerously addicting. What a thrill."