On Saturday (March 12), Corey Shultz of Waverly, Va. hooked into what is expected to become a part of Tar Heel fishing history. The pending record fish that took a straining Shimano 80 wide to the last quarter of the spool and kept Shultz strapped to the fighting chair for about 2 1/2 hours, turned out to be a bluefin tuna that weighed 805 ½ pounds.
Shultz and friends were fishing with Capt. Ned Ashby and mate George Cecil on the Sea Breeze out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center when the strike happened. Shultz had caught a 350-pound bluefin while fishing with Capt. Ashby and Cecil last year, so he knew he was strapped in with something bigger. Cecil saw the big bluefin as it inhaled the bait on a flatline and called it at 400 pounds plus.
He was correct, too – there just was a lot of plus.
Paperwork and pictures were submitted today (March 14) to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries to have Shultz’s catch certified as the state record. The current record is a 744-pounder caught by Thomas Baily in 1995 from Oregon Inlet.
The huge tuna struck a naked 12-pack ballyhoo just before 2 p.m. Schultz fought it until getting it alongside for the first gaff at 4:20. After getting multiple gaffs in the fish, a rope around its jaw and another around its tail, it was finally positioned and pulled through the transom door another 30 minutes later.
The last daylight was fading from the sky as it was hoisted to the scales at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.
The big tuna was 114 inches long and had a 79 inch girth. Using the standard formula of girth squared, multiplied by length and divided by 800, the fish computed to well over 800 pounds. The scales didn’t quite agree, but at 805.5 pounds, it was still 61.5 pounds heavier than the existing record.
A full account of the catch will follow, so be sure and check back often.