When Chase Robinson passed away, fishing buddy and charter captain Jake Hiles decided that if anyone was going to break his friend’s bluefin tuna record, it would be him.
So last February, with bluefin starting to show off the coast, Hiles and Jeff Landis left Rudee Inlet on a voyage to see if they could hook up with a bluefin bigger than Robinson’s 606-pounder caught in 2015 with Hiles on board.
They headed to a place approximately 80 miles southeast of the Virginia Beach coast to a place some call the “Tuna Hole.”
And on Feb. 16, that’s exactly what it was.
Starting the day before, the two hooked up with a nice tuna that possibly would have challenged the record. But the fish got a little ticked off when it got to the boat and managed to put the line into the prop to free itself.
A little later into the night, a dead 10-pound bluefish used for a drift bait caught the attention of a 10-foot hammerhead shark.
After that fight, Hiles – who is on the left in the photo – decided to get a catnap that was rudely broken up an hour later when Landis shouted that they were hooked up at about 4 in the morning.
Hiles had rigged up with seriously heavy gear in anticipation of a record breaker and it’s a good thing he did.
Once the fish was at the boat, the Virginia Beach angler knew he’d broken his friend’s record. It took some brainstorming for the two to figure out how to get the giant into the boat, but once they did he was pedal-to-the-metal back to the Virginia Beach Fishing Center.
Finally on the scales, the bluefin came in at 708 pounds. It was 114 and a half inches long and had a girth of 77 and a quarter inches.
Hiles immediately went on social media and announced that anybody who showed up at the docks was welcomed to come get a piece of fish. He doesn’t like to eat it after it’s frozen and who in the hell has that kind of freezer space to begin with.
All of the tuna was dispersed to dozens of people who showed up.
The fish was certified late last week as the Virginia state record.
“If Chase was around today, I know that he would have wanted his record to have been broken by a friend,” Hiles said. “So I made it a goal of mine to go catch it and break the record before anybody else did.
“I’m really glad it was finally approved.”