Wilmington man catches state-record blackfin tuna
Fish weighing 40 pounds, 11 ounces caught around the “Steeples”
Mike Accatato's 40.7-pound blackfin tuna, caught May 10 near the "Steeples" offshore of Wrightsville Beach, broke the existing state record by 11 ounces.
They got that — and more than they could have dreamed about. Before the trip was over, the anglers had boated several large amberjack, some dolphin, sharks and 37 blackfin tuna.
One of the blackfin, caught by Accatato, broke the 4-year-old state record for that species, weighing 40 pounds. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries certified the record-setting catch on May 27.
Croson headed out of Masonboro Inlet to the popular offshore “Steeples” area, where he found blackfin in 280 feet of water. The action in the morning was steady, but after lunch, it ratcheted up a couple of notches. At times, the water almost boiled with tuna chasing baitfish and lures, with many of the blackfin well above the 20-pound pound mark that earns NCDMF citations.
The fishermen were fishing jigs, Rapala Subwalks and Williamson Jet Poppers, with multiple hookups frequent.
Accatato was fishing a Jet Popper when he hooked a tuna that the crew thought might be much larger, even though they hadn’t seen it. The fish made a couple of strong runs as Accatato battled it, on a Synit PE3 Popping Rod equipped with a Shimano Stella 8000 spinning reel. finally wearing it down enough to lead it to the gaff. When it plopped into the fish box, it became immediately obvious that it was noticeably larger than the others.
Knowing several fish were citation-class, Croson suggested weighing the bigger ones, including Accatato’s. That afternoon, upon returning, they weighed the tuna at the Fish Institute at Crockers Landing in Wrightsville Beach. That’s when Accatato learned that his fish weighed 40.7 pounds — a full 11 ounces lasrger than the state-record fish caught by Steve Lockwood off Oregon Inlet in 2007.
Croson knew there were several citation size fish in the catch and suggested they weigh them, especially Accatato’s large fish. Later that evening at the Fish Institute at Crockers Landing at Wrightsville Beach, Accatato’s tuna weighed 40.7 pounds (40 pounds, 11 ounces).
The appropriate photos and paperwork was sent to NCDMF headquarters in Morehead City, where Accatato’s catch was certified as the state record on May 27.
The record blackfin was 39 inches long — 37 inches fork length. The girth was 29.5 inches.
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