South Texas fisherman lands state record bluefin tuna off Port Aransas coast

The 876-pound tuna took nine hours to reel in

A South Texas fisherman landed an 876-pound bluefin tuna on April 13 about 140 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, breaking a nearly 40-year state record. (Courtesy, Port Aransas Fisherman's Wharf)

A South Texas fisherman landed a whopper 876-pound bluefin tuna last month about 150 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, breaking a nearly 40-year state record.

Fisherman Troy Lancaster caught the 121-inch female tuna on April 13 while fishing for marlin with Capt. Justin Drummond aboard a private boat called Quantified, officials with the Port Aransas Fisherman’s Wharf told KSAT.

Lancaster was using skipjack tuna as bait — in hopes to catch a marlin — when he hooked a different beast.

The fisherman told The MeatEater that the fish “had complete control the first three or four hours.”

“It was anything she wanted to do, she did,” he told the outdoor lifestyle website.

Amid the battle, he said, the boat was dragged about eight miles. It ended when the fish became wrapped in the line and died, he said.

Overall, it took nine hours to reel the tuna in.

A South Texas fisherman landed a 876-pound bluefin tuna on April 13 about 140 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, breaking a nearly 40-year state record. (Courtesy, Port Aransas Fisherman's Wharf)

Quantified then headed to the Fisherman’s Wharf to weigh the 19-year-old fish, as the marina has a “facility designed specifically for large fish with our own certified scale readily available,” the Fisherman’s Wharf said. It took another three hours to clean the fish.

Scientists with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, located at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, were called to collect samples from the “amazing catch” pending verification of a state record.

The pending state record tuna has been aged! Looks like this monster was 19 years old when it was caught. See picture...

Posted by Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The center announced on April 30 that the tuna broke the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department record that was set 36 years ago by almost 70 pounds.

“We’re sure this record will stand for a long time but are sure folks are out there trying to break it already,” the center said in a Facebook post.

IT'S OFFICIAL! The Bluefin Tuna landed by Troy Lancaster on April 13th out of Port Aransas is the new Texas state...

Posted by Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation on Friday, April 30, 2021

The Fisherman’s Wharf called it an “absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime catch.”

The 19-year-old tuna was among the second processed by the Sportfish Center this year: a 23-year-old, 706-pound bluefin tuna was also caught off of Port Aransas, this one aboard the Dolphin Express of Dolphin Docks.

Tim Oestrich, captain of the Dolphin Express, told the center it was the first bluefin tuna he’d ever landed.

“We only have a window of about 3-4 weeks, and the weather’s got to line up and the people have to line up,” he told the center.

According to the center, only a handful of blue tunas are allowed to be taken in season each year from the Gulf of Mexico.

“These fish are a real treasure and very rare, with only 4-6 per year caught and retained,” Sportfish Center Director Dr. Greg Stunz said. “Working with anglers allows us to get samples from these fish that would otherwise not be possible.”

Read also:


About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.