Big-game fishing in the Cayman Islands usually centres on three major species in yellowfin tuna, dolphin (i.e. mahi-mahi) and wahoo (also called queenfish). Therefore it is unusual to hear an angler catching a black tuna.
Recently Robert Whorms nabbed the fish in East End. The 57.8lb albacore would have been a new Cayman record if it had not been gutted. It was caught on a 80lb test using fresh sprats. Whorms, 31, states he initially was not sure of the tuna.
“I’ve been fishing 10 years and when I saw it I didn’t know what it was,” Whorms said. “I’ve never seen a tuna like that before. The research I’ve done on it states it is a long-fin Atlantic albacore. There are one or two difference apparently that separate it from the blackfin tuna species.
“When I caught it was a beautiful day with clear, calm water. We were up East drift fishing as I like to do with the line out of the boat. Suddenly the line became taut and it came in quick from there. I caught it in about 10 minutes. It felt long but it really wasn’t that long. It didn’t fight like a yellowfin because normally they take off from the start. I was using some pretty good tuna gear and we were hoping to land a big yellowfin.
“In fact we stayed out there a few hours until 4pm (we caught it between 1-2pm) and continued to fish in the area. The whole time we used fresh sprats we caught that morning for bait. Everything was just right; when we launched we caught sprats right away.”
It wasn’t until after he weighed the fish that the Manager of Electrical Maintenance at Caribbean Utilities Company found out he could have made history. Currently the Cayman Islands Angling Club (Cayman’s national fishing body) has no official record for an albacore catch. Whorms’ mark would have been a new benchmark for the species.
Interestingly the electrical engineer, who was on the Party Heat boat with captain Roger Wood and first mate Albert McLean, cut the fish prior to weigh-in. The Savannah native cleaned out the inside of the fish in the name of preservation on the journey to George Town’s Barcadere Marina. Naturally Whorms was upset about missing out on history.
“I was absolutely gutted that it could have been a record. I sent pictures of it to Rob Jones and Mark Bothwell and when they told me (towards the end) it could be a record everyone on the boat was excited. However the bag was too large (for the fish) so we had to gut it to preserve it by filling it with ice. We weren’t thinking about the record then.
“To be honest I didn’t know what it (the fish) was and I didn’t know until afterwards that I shouldn’t have gutted it. I certainly learned something there.”
Like all big fish catches, Whorms did walk away with some money. He sold the tuna to Karma restaurant in Westshore Centre for a couple hundred dollars and even sampled it in a dish.
“It was sold to the restaurant at a yellowfin tuna price (which tends to be around CI$5 per pound). That was then split up amongst the crew. Either that (money) is going for the next trip or to get something nice for the wife. From there I ate some of the tuna (I sold to Karma) in the form of sashimi. It’s buttery and soft; it really made for some good eating.”