SAN DIEGO - A San Diego County man has caught a 445-pound yellowfin tuna -- a fish that outweighs the record for a rod-and-reel catch of the species but won't rewrite the books.
U-T San Diego reported that John Petruescu, of La Mesa, caught the tuna on Dec. 3 at Hurricane Bank off Baja California. The 7-foot-long fish was weighed Sunday in San Diego.
"I expected a big fish," Petruescu told 10News on Monday. "Instead, I caught the biggest fish."
The average size of a yellowfin tuna is about 300 pounds, while Petruescu's fish weighs nearly 450 pounds.
"I couldn't say anything," he said. "I was just laughing looking at it. I couldn't believe it. It was big."
Petruescu said he first tossed a sardine on the line. With that, he caught a skipjack, a delicacy for bigger fish.
"Some guy said, 'Oh, it might be a shark,'" said Petruescu. "Some guy said, 'Oh, it might be a tuna.' We weren't sure what I was going to bring up."
It is no easy task to reel in a tuna, but any experienced angler will say it is more about patience than power.
It took Petruescu about two hours to reel in the fish, but it was not all sweat and tears.
"I had a couple of cigarettes while I was doing it," he said. "When he was running and I had time, I just took one out of my pocket and smoked a cigarette. When he was relaxing, I started pulling him back in again."
Petruescu was aboard the Excel, whose captain twice handled the rod Petruescu was using. Justin Fleck says he helped Petruescu negotiate around a bow anchor for insurance reasons.
For that reason, the catch will not be recognized as an official record by the International Game Fish Association.
The all-tackle record is held by Mike Livingston of Sunland for a yellowfin caught two years ago that topped 405 pounds.
As for the fish, its next stop is Petruescu's living room.
"Right above my couch… I have a 6-foot leather couch," he said. "It's going to hang out there."
But first, it will go from the docks to a shop for molds to be made and then to a laboratory to be studied.