Then one day…
You can imagine the buzz when word got out that Capt. Mason Stoller, owner of Pacific Fly Fishing Charters, had captured a nice Pacific Bluefin Tuna on fly.
The Huntington Beach native is a lifelong fly fisherman, and has fished local salt water for over 25 years. For the last 5 years he’s chased Pacific Bluefin on fly, and has suffered the same trials and tribulations as everyone else.
That is, until one fateful day in September 2019, when everything came together and Captain Stoller was able to put one in the boat.
Late last year we had an opportunity to talk to Mason about his catch. We also picked his brain about Pacific Bluefin fly-fishing in general.
On September 11, 2019, Capt. Stoller had a tuna charter with some friends. The previous day he had found a large body of fish feeding heavily in some semi-green water on the front side of San Clemente Island.
He returned to the same area with his charter, and found the fish ready to chew the paint off the boat! After hooking 8 and landing 3 fish to 60 lbs on conventional gear, he asked his friends if he could try taking a fish on the fly.
With his friend Jason Harris at the helm, their boat pulled up on a small “foamer” (a feeding frenzy so heavy that the water foams). Mason’s cast lined the fish, and they went down.
A few minutes later they approached a second school of fish chasing bait on the surface. Mason made a long cast out in front of the lead fish and hooked up on his first strip. Twenty minutes later, after some heavy pressure, they were able to stick it with a gaff, and the fish was in the boat!
video courtesy Jason Harris
Initially, Mason wasn’t going to submit the fish for a record. He was stoked just to land it (as you can tell from the video!) So the fish was spiked, bled, dressed and slid into the fish box.
But by the time they got back to Newport Harbor, he had reconsidered. They made a brief side trip over to the Balboa Angling Club, which had a certified scale.
Mason’s fish dragged the scales down to 44.2 lbs. That’s well above the current 20 lb tippet world record for Pacific Bluefin Tuna, even though the fish had been bled and gutted. The fish very likely would have been over 50 lbs before it was dressed.
So the required forms were completed, photos taken, and the application sent off to the IGFA for processing.
Photo courtesy Capt. Mason Stoller
In our next post, we’ll cover the gear Mason used, some thoughts on tackle, rigging and tactics, and the end result of Mason’s application to the IGFA. Keep an eye out for it!