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Rare opah catch might be a world record

Discussion in 'OFF TOPIC' started by PhxRam, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. PhxRam The Estimated Prophet

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    Ever catch one of these @Selassie I ?

    Joe Ludlow's catch of a 181-pound opah has been submitted to the IGFA for record consideration; it exceeds the current record weight by 18 pounds

    August 13, 2014 by Pete Thomas

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    Joe Ludlow poses with rare opah catch that could land angler in the record book; photo courtesy of Excel Sportfishing

    Three anglers recently completed a rare and perhaps unprecedented feat by landing an opah aboard a San Diego-based boat fishing in Mexican waters.

    Opah, also referred to as moonfish, are rarely caught by recreational fishermen, and for three people to catch an opah on the same day was considered extraordinary.

    But lost amid the hype swirling in fishing circles when the opah-trifecta photo surfaced (see photo below) was that one of the moonfish, a 181-pounder caught by Joe Ludlow, exceeds the world-record weight by 18 pounds.

    The fish were caught aboard the Excel, a luxury long-range sportfishing boat that spends several days at a time in Mexcan waters.

    The International Game Fish Association lists as the all-tackle world record a 163-pound opahcaught in October 1998 off San Luis Obispo in Central California.

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    Armando Castillo, Joe Ludlow and Travis Savala (left to right) pose with opah aboard the Excel; photo courtesy of Excel Sportfishing

    That was an El Niño year and El Niño-like conditions (un usually warm water) are prevalent this summer off California. Opah catches tend to be associated with warm-water events.

    Justin Fleck, captain of the Excel, said Ludlow was one of five anglers that hooked an opah at about the same time, soon after the boat had stopped over a school of yellowtail.

    Most people were fishing near the surface with bait but the five anglers dropped heavy lures into deeper waters, and suddenly all five were hooked into large fish that fought much differently than yellowtail.

    “The fish were pulling the guys up the rail toward the bow, and back toward the stern, then back to the bow, but they weren’t really taking any line,” Fleck said.

    Opah are oval-shaped with silvery-red bodies and vermillion-colored fins. When the first opah was spotted and identified, many customers stopped fishing and started following the five anglers around the boat.

    “It became a sideshow,” Fleck said.

    Ludlow’s fish was the first to be brought over the rail, after a 30-minute fight.

    Two others were gaffed minutes later, while two became unhooked and swam off.

    The Excel was fishing in 190 feet of water near San Martin Island. Fleck said that a group of opah must have just been swimming through the area.

    That in itself is somewhat unusual, since opah are not schooling fish, except during spawning season. (There’s not a directed fishery for opah because they’re so solitary, but enough are caught indiscriminately by long-line fishermen to provide a market for consumers.)

    “We must have just been in the right place at the right time,” Fleck said, adding that the paperwork this week was submitted to the IGFA for world-record consideration. “And we were following IGFA rules.”

    The IGFA can take several weeks to approve or deny world-record applications.
     
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