Tasmania produces an unforgettable catch

By Sam White

February 3, 2017

The 310-pound (140-kilo) tuna was landed on 80-pound-class tackle in just 25 minutes by the junior angler. Courtesy Stuart Nichols

On October 18, 2016, Australian junior angler Toby Nichols landed a southern bluefin tuna that could potentially set two world records for the species: the male junior angler record and the men’s 80-pound-test line class record. This is his father Stuart Nichols’ recount of that memorable day.

“I run a charter fishing business in Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania, and so all my boys are experienced anglers. They’ve all caught many smaller bluefin as well as yellowfin tuna, mako sharks and swordfish up to 700 pounds. As a family, we were taking our six kids camping on the morning of the 18th, but I gave the boys the option of chasing a record fish instead. Toby’s brothers had both caught big tuna the previous day, so we knew the conditions were right.

This isn’t Toby’s first big tuna either. At age 10, he landed a pair of bluefins weighing 261 and 266 pounds. He was 11 years old when he caught this fish, which qualifies him as a junior angler. We were fishing out of Fortescue Bay in Tasmania aboard my 26-foot custom game boat, Big Pig. His fish hit a purple-and-blue JB Dyno lure on an 80-pound rig and made a powerful initial run of about 500 yards, but then the tuna fought little after that during the 25-minute fight. The fish weighed 310 pounds, 15 ounces and was larger than the overall men’s 80-pound-test record, which was 304 pounds, 3 ounces. Needless to say, all the boys were very happy with the record-setting catch.” — As told to Sam White by Stuart Nichols