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Desperado lands the year’s biggest yellowfin ahi

By Staff | Aug 25, 2011

From left, Capt. Jeremy Webb, Matt Roth, Hudson Roth and Capt. Dan Shaffer weigh their ahi.

LAHAINA — In the middle of all the big blue marlin that were coming in during June, the largest yellowfin tuna of the year to date made it to the scales. The ahi, angled by Matt Roth and family, weighed 193.6 pounds. It was captured aboard the Desperado with Captains Dan Shaffer and Jeremy Webb.

Jeremy was at the helm as they left Kaanapali and headed straight for Kamaiki Point on the east end of Lanai. He came in shallow on a high-speed ono run parallel off Kamaiki Beach. As soon as he reached the point, the long gone 80-class reel went off.

The green water was just inside them on the starboard side. The fish ran like an ono but didn’t take much line. There wasn’t much room for it to dive, since they were in only 80-100 feet of water.

The fish ran out probably 200 yards of 100 test line, getting them into the Dacron backing before Jeremy could slow the boat. Once they were in neutral, they started to gain some line. Jeremy bumped the boat one engine ahead as they got the mono back on the spool. They were thinking it was a nice ono.

The fish made a 100-yard run out and down, taking them back into the Dacron. Maybe it was a 50- to 60-plus-pound ono. Matt kept cranking and cranking. There was a full bend in the rod with 50-pounds of drag on the fish.

As they were fighting the fish, Jeremy had to angle the boat outward to pull it into deeper water. They were getting close to the shore break. The fish started to come up to the top. They were expecting to see a dorsal fin or a bill, but it never broke the surface.

The fish made three more 100-yard runs just like before, out and down as far as it would go. The rest of the family took their short turns in the chair. Matt was back in the chair after the last run and kept up the cranking until he ran out of steam. He was cooked.

The last ten minutes, Dan dropped the reel in low gear and began to horse the fish in. He started to “Portuguese pull and crank the line,” trying to get the fish to the boat.

The fish was swimming with the boat off the starboard side — still no clue to what exactly they had. Jeremy had the boat two-idle-ahead as they got the fish to double line after a 40-minute give and gain. They didn’t realize they had a tuna until they finally saw color.

Dan called out, “It’s an ahi!” Jeremy looked down off the bridge and could see the distinct color of an ahi below. The first time to leader, Dan pulled it right up. No problems and no movement from the fish. It was tired from all the runs.

Jeremy secured their catch under the chin, and they hauled it over the rail. Since this was the first hour of the charter, Dan made the decision to run the ahi back to Lahaina and get it on ice and brined. They went back out and finished up the remainder of their charter.

This ahi is the largest since March 10 for this year, dropping a 170.4-pounder into second place. It is the largest, almost to the date in 2009, when a 200.0-pounder was weighed.

It is the 20th largest documented ahi since 1977 for Lahaina Harbor and the 15 largest since 1980 for a Lahaina Charter boat.