Byline: Taylor Hill
CABO SAN LUCAS, Baja California Sur, Mexico — Dana Point resident Guy Yocom, a 55-year-old contractor, landed what is probably the largest — and the priciest — yellowfin tuna in history while fishing out of Cabo San Lucas Sept. 18.
The 427-pound yellowfin took only 50 minutes for Yocom to haul aboard his aptly named 61-foot Viking sportfisher El Suertudo — meaning “the Lucky One.” However, it could change his life forever, as a record-breaking fish would make him the winner of Mustad’s “Hook a Million” contest, which rewards anglers who catch state- and world-record fish with Mustad hooks — with up to $1 million in prize money.
The contest requires anglers to sign up online to be eligible and use Mustad hooks when fishing — both of which Yocom claims to have done.
In order to be eligible, the record had to stand up to the International Game Fish Association’s (IGFA’s) certification process, as well. On Sept. 28, Yocom’s application was received by IGFA officials, who stated, “Yocom’s fish qualifies for both the potential new All-Tackle record and men’s 130-pound line class record.” Both records currently belong to Mike Livingston, who caught a 405-pound yellowfin on Nov. 30, 2010, while fishing off Mexico’s Bahia Magdalena.
Once the big yellowfin catch was brought on board, Yocom and skipper Capt. Greg DiStefano of San Clemente said they knew the fish was a potential world record. DiStefano measured the fish and decided to call it a day, heading back to the docks to get an official measurement and weight.
“Back at the docks in Cabo San Lucas, Yocom’s fish was officially weighed on an IWS Scalemaster, confirming the accurate reading of 427 pounds,” the IGFA official report stated.
Local IGFA representative Minerva Saenz was present at the Cabo San Lucas docks and registered two weights of 421.5 and 427 pounds, with either of these weights making it a new world record.
Yocom is known as a hard-core angler who knows what he is doing. Along with his crew — headed up by Capt. DiStefano — Yocom went out precisely on a mission to land a large tuna.
He has kept his boat in Cabo San Lucas for the past four years. El Suertudo left Cabo San Lucas around noon Sept. 15.
“We headed out looking for schools of porpoise,” Yocom said. “Each time we found them, we would position the boat in front of the school and baitfish with the kites, using bolitos and dead flying fish. When that didn’t work, we switched to drifting with chunk baits.”
They ended up 180 miles due south of Cabo San Lucas and landed a 200-pound tuna on Sept. 17, as well as some smaller fish.
At around 10:45 a.m. Sept. 18, they were drifting with chunk bait when the monster fish broke from the deep and Yocom got his hook-up. Being an experienced angler, he worked the fish and had the yellowfin to the boat and gaffed by the crew in 50 minutes. Once they realized the size of the fish they had, the boat started to head back, reaching Cabo San Lucas at 8 a.m. Sept. 19.
Yocom’s previous record for a tuna catch was a 212-pounder, but he said his son caught a 350-pounder on El Suertudo last month.
DiStifano said they were able to get more than 200 pounds of filets out of the fish — a lot of which was brought to the angler’s and skipper’s homes, and a lot of which was given away in Cabo San Lucas.
Yocom used 100-pound-test line with a Shimano Tiagra reel and chunk bait with a Mustad hook. The Mustad hook was key, as it has made the catch eligible for the “Hook a Million” competition, which offered registered anglers a chance to win $1 million if they could catch a certified all-tackle world record before Sept. 30.
At press time, Mustad officials were checking to make sure Yocom was registered prior to catching the fish. The hook maker was also awaiting final certification from IGFA on the world-record status of the fish, before making a final decision on the $1 million prize.