"Grander" Bluefin on Stand-Up
John Whalen of Capistrano Beach, California, developed his stand-up fishing equipment and techniques on big yellowfin tuna during long-range trips from San Diego to the Revillagigedo Islands and other prime destinations. Like others who have fought both tuna and marlin, he's a believer that pound-for-pound, tuna fight the hardest. So, it was understandable that after catching many big Pacific yellowfin (up to 300 lbs), he wanted more. He wanted the biggest challenge. To him, there was only one - giant bluefin. So, he knew he had to come to the Atlantic for them. Then he and his friends got a tip about a new bluefin tuna destination - Cape Hatteras (before it became well known for its winter bluefin fishing - Dec thru Mar). Something had been making car-sized holes in commercial fishermen's gillnets. It turned out to be bluefin. He and his friends decided to test their stand-up techniques against the giants of the tuna world. They planned a trip to Cape Hatteras in March of 1997 where they fished stand-up successfully for 4 days on the Citation. On their second day, the group of five anglers caught about 12 giants in the 300-pound class. However, as the weather turned sour on their fifth and final day, the unimaginable happened.
With a 350-pound fish on, the deck heaving in the heavy seas typical of this winter fishery (in the "graveyard of the Atlantic"), John,
as pictured at right, went to take a step to follow his fish along the transom when a big wave hit just as the giant took off. Suddenly "the deck just disappeared" said John later. Before he knew it, he was underwater, upside down, fast becoming disoriented and all the while being pulled deeper and deeper by the big fish. What would you have done?
"Grander" on Stand-up
These days he fishes out of Nova Scotia where the very largest giants are found in summer and fall. John always wanted to catch a grander (1,000 lbs.) on stand-up tackle. No one else has done it. Below is a picture of him working a giant from a commercial fisherman's boat out of Nova Scotia. And below that, is his grander. (The distortion of the image in the tail-caudal peduncle area is the fault of my scanner.) (Photos, John Whalen)
|Whalen has now caught over 150 bluefin tuna in excess of 300 lbs using stand-up tackle. That includes a dozen or so over 500 lbs. and the grander. He also caught an 800+ lb. blue marlin on stand-up in 1992.|
|Grander on Stand-up!|
|Below, "on the leader" is John Whalen's grander taken in 1999 on stand-up. Right, Whalen and son, Sean, exult on learning it weighed 1,015 lbs. on the scale at the commercial dock. Since the giant had been gutted, gilled and immediately bled, its "live" weight would have been at least 1,165 lbs.|
|Left, a 523-lb. giant caught in 1999 while fishing the Hell Hole on a commercial boat out of Nova Scotia.
Right, Whalen and a 530-lb. giant bluefin taken stand-up from a commercial boat out of Nova Scotia in 1998.
Below left, a 485-lb. giant also caught in 1999 at the Hell Hole. The three giants taken on that trip weighed 485, 523 and 530 lbs.
Below right, 203-lb. NC bluefin caught in 2001 aboard Hatterascal.
|Above, Whalen fighting a giant bluefin stand-up off Cape Hatteras in the winter of 2001 on board Hatterascal. Fish up to 600 lbs. were caught stand-up on this trip. By regulation, only fish below 230 lbs. could be kept. The rest were released. Right, Hatteras in 2001. Left, Whalen with a 185-lb. bluefin taken off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras on Hatterascal. Bluefin up to 500 lbs. were caught on this 1999 trip. All photos, courtesy John Whalen.|
|OTHER PAGES ON THIS WEBSITE
The Severity of Atlantic Population Losses
The Facts - Headed for Extinction
Endangered Species Act
White Marlin Listing Petition
Bluefin Tuna ESA Listing Petition
Giants off New England - pg. 1 of 6
Giants of the Azores
All Tackle World Record Bluefin Tuna
Giants of Prince Edward Island
Atlantic Blue Marlin - 4 pages
Pacific Blue Marlin - 3 pages
Black Marlin - 3 pages
White Marlin - 2 pages
Swordfish - 3 pages
|Chambers and Associates
9814 Kensington Parkway
Kensington Maryland 20895-3425
(T) 301-949-7778 (Fax) 301-949-3003
Longliners fish most heavily during the periods when the moon is brightest. So, this real-time image of the moon phase shows when the kill of swordfish is greatest and least. It also shows when the kill of blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, sharks, tunas, sea turtles, marine mammals and a host of other marine life is also greatest - even though they are not even targeted. For more, see link above.