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Westhampton man, friends hook 800-pound bluefin tuna

  • Westhampton resident David Brown stands next to the 800-pound bluefin tuna he and three friends — Mike Cheney, Bob Mischler and Richard Downey — caught 30 miles off the coast of Nantucket last week. COURTESY OF DAVID BROWN

  • From left, Westhampton resident David Brown, Mike Cheney, Bob Mischler and Richard Downey pose with the 800-pound bluefin tuna they caught on a fishing excursion off the coast of Nantucket last week. COURTESY OF DAVID BROWN

  • Westhampton resident David Brown works to reel in a 800-pound bluefin tuna he and three friends caught 30 miles off the coast of Nantucket last week. COURTESY OF DAVID BROWN



Staff Writer
Friday, October 05, 2018

NANTUCKET — He can cross this one off the bucket list.

After an exhaustive, six-and-a-half-hour battle with a gargantuan 800-pound bluefin tuna on Wednesday, David Brown and his three friends hauled in a 9-foot beast 30 miles off the coast of Nantucket.

“It was an awesome fish, the most beautiful,” Brown, 57, of Westhampton, said on Friday evening. “I was in awe of it, and when you looked at him, you could see the dorsal fin retract into the fish. I was in admiration of an adversary.”

Brown’s day began at 2 a.m. He and his friends — Mike Cheney, Bob Mischler and Richard Downey — met at a dock in Falmouth and boarded the Machaca in the pouring rain. While still dark, they navigated the choppy, turbulent waters toward the site of a well-known 19th century shipwreck called the Regal Sword.

Brown said he and the crew could see whales and fish through the transparent waters as the sun rose on a foggy morning. After catching a mackerel to use for live bait, they threw it back out, and within 10 minutes, they got a bite.

It was still before 6 a.m., Brown said, when their large rod at the back of the boat bent over into the water.

“There’s nothing like the sound of a line peeling off, that’s what you are out there for,” Brown said.

The crew scrambled to grab the large rod and made sure that they did not let the drag of their fishing rod loose as the fish constantly tried shaking off the line’s hook.

“It hooked really good, right in the corner of the mouth where you want ‘em,” Brown said. “We were fighting, wearing him down, and it took four guys to wear him down to the point we could get him out of the water.”

It was a battle of inches. As the waves roiled the boat and they continued to keep the line tight on the fish, they were only gaining a few inches as the fish pulled the boat nearly seven miles out into the ocean, Brown said.

When Brown noticed that the heavy-duty, 150-pound fishing line began fraying from the strain of the fish pulling it, he did not dare mention it out loud for fear of cursing their luck. But the line didn’t break as they slowly kept reeling it in.

Finally, after six hours of working in shifts, the four fishermen were able to harpoon the large tuna and wrap a rope around its tail, ending the drawn-out fight.

“I felt exhausted, admiration, jubilation, and massive relief,” Brown said.

By the time they got back to Falmouth, word had already gotten around of their crew’s massive catch.

“It was kind of funny,” Brown said. “All kinds of people had heard about it, and guys were coming onto the boat, shaking our hands, wondering where we were.”

The fish was sold for anywhere between $5,000 to $8,000, Brown estimated, but said he wasn’t sure because the captain of the boat sold it.

“We’re not going to top that one, I don’t think,” Brown said.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com