World Records for Bluefin Tuna—Pacfic

Previous Records
Meritorious Awards
Notable Catches

Terry Maas
Bluefin tuna, Pacific, Terry Maas

Current world-record Pacific Bluefin tuna for men—398.0 lbs. (180.53 kilograms) by Terry Maas

Bait fish began to gather over the rocks, stepping from 60 to 90 to 120 feet below. I had that special feeling experienced divers get when they know conditions are favorable for big fish. Sure enough, big yellowtail appeared in schools. I yelled to my Hawaiian friend and teammate Dennis Okada, 'Don't shoot the yellows, I think tuna will show!' Two dives later, into the 150-foot visibility water, I watched Dennis try to ignore a 40-pound yellowtail swimming toward him. Unable to resist, he shot the fish and headed back to the boat with it.
Alone, I was diving the now famed 'tuna alley' of Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Having trouble with the then-experimental lifeguard float system, which kept deploying its 100 feet of line in the heavy swells, I pinned the line inside the float. I reasoned that if I shot a fish, I could get to the pin and release it as the buoys passed me.
A school of ten, 50-pound bluefin, 100 feet away, mesmerized me. They swam so close to the surface that they occasionally disappeared from my view in the large oceanic swells marching overhead.
Toward the end of a dive, I glanced down, looking beyond the reef edge into deep water and noticed two small distant tuna swimming in my direction. I froze. Slowly the tuna grew, soon becoming giants. I kept waiting for them to get close enough to make out detail on their bodies before I took my shot. When the closest fish just started to veer away from its course toward me (about 15 feet away), I simultaneously thrust my four-banded gun forward and kicked. I fired. My intent was to give as much forward momentum to the near horizontal spearshaft as possible.
The fish took off so fast that it was impossible to catch my release pin as the two buoys streaked by, almost hitting me. Still joined by the pin, the buoys descended at a steep angle. Seconds later, they started to float back toward the surface, a sure sign my fish was lost. At least I could release that pesky pin.
Suddenly, the floats took off again, towing me in a large circle. I caught sight of the huge tuna, having completed a full circle on the surface, heading straight toward me. I began untangling myself from my float lines and preparing to dodge the monster fish, when it rolled over and started sinking, about 30 feet away. I struggled to stay afloat as the giant tuna's dead weight kept pulling me under. Finally, the chase boat arrived with my second gun. I dove and made a good second shot securing my fish just as the last wing of the first spearhead slipped free. We lassoed the 398-pound world-record by its big tail and brought it back to the mother boat, Sand Dollar. We tied it to the boat's swim step while we devised a plan to get it onboard intact.
I'll never forget the unbelieving expressions on the faces of the returning divers, as one by one, they caught sight of that monster fish hanging from the back of the boat.


Mike McGuire
Bluefin tuan, Pacific, Mike McGuire

Notable catch for Pacific Bluefin tuna, Mike McGuire—200 pounds (91 kilograms) by Mike McGuire as told to Terry Maas.

Mike McGuire landed a tail-walking 200-pound bluefin at Guadalupe Island, Mexico in August 1992. Determined to spear a big bluefin tuna, Mike organized three week-long trips to the island. The first two produced yellowtail only, the last fulfilled his dream-the fishing trip of a lifetime. Mike recalls:
The visibility was poor, just 40 to 60 feet. We had current, sharks and bad weather. I'd just watched veteran bluewater diver, Bob Caruso, shoot and eventually lose a bluefin, estimated to weigh 300 pounds. Excited, I returned to our boat, the Sand Dollar, and informed the guys that the tuna were in.
Shortly after leaving the boat, I spotted a small school of large tuna in front of, and below me. Taking a deep breath, I dropped to 25 feet, level with the tuna, careful not to look directly at them. I remember feeling calm and carefree during my motionless glide. As I moved my gun toward the direction I expected the school to swim, I turned to view the stunning sight of eight 200-pound fish. They moved slowly from my left to right, 25 feet away-too far for a shot. Seeing only smaller, more distant fish further to the left, I refocused on the big guys in front.
I was just about to squeeze off on the closest fish at my gun's level when a separate tuna, swimming to join the others, passed directly below my original target. This fish was closer than the others so I slowly let gravity pull my gun's aim down to its level. Sighting on its spine just behind its gills, I pulled my trigger, hoping gravity would help the shaft penetrate on such a long shot. Just as my spear released, the slowly moving tuna spooked ahead four feet, placing my shaft into solid meat but in its tail.
Tail shot, the fish streaked straight up out of the water and danced across the surface for all to see. It then dove straight down taking my lone buoy with it. For five minutes it disappeared; and then reappearing, it bobbed up and then under for 20 minutes, and traveled a quarter a mile as we followed in our chase boat.
Reaching the float, I pulled in the trail line and to my shock realized I had used the wrong line, it was my backup tube-the one without line inside. The fish's run had extruded the -inch tube to a diameter of A inch, it looked like fishing line. Expecting it to break at any minute, I let the fish play out and gingerly pulled it up to 60 feet where I finished it with a second shot.
The fish took three hours to clean. It was the best fish I'd ever eaten-not an ounce went to waste.