Date de publication : 2010-08-20

The action took place 2 days ago in the North Atlantic Coast and at about 170 miles off the coast in the direction of New Foundland
 At the time the main goal of the trip was again to spot giant atlantic tuna and to do some video... In particular, at the time they do hunting herring school wich are plentifull in August there.
If you plan to do this hunt the luck is the master of the game, because these great pelagics do moving all the time along the North America coast and swimming from 100 to 150 miles per day!
The weather is the second parameter, because the sea must be calm  if you intend to see the "herring run" and to luckily spot tuna.
Great mako and white sharks do often take part to the quarry, this is the third unforseeable parameter..

After 3 days boating in the best  weather conditions, we finally could spot on the surface
a predation action:  a lot of birds, two whales.Tuna were probably there hunting in a school. Each time this kind of action can last several minutes or less, then the tuna school vanishes to the depths.
I jumped  from the boat among the "slaughter". Hundred and hundred birds were hunting the herrings  The water temperatur was there at about 19 C degree and pretty much colder in the depth. The water was green, dirty  and the visi fair at about 2 meter range . I did diving equiped with a wood speargun : the shaft with a special  spear tip wich can penetrate the thick tuna skin and do not rip the meat when it get pulled.
I dove at about 50feet depth where the visi was better and I could observe a couple of time massive tunas swimming fast and moving sometimes like rockets to the surface
while hunting fiercely...

I have been freediving for years several times among these fishes: it's each time the same incredible and amazing "rodeo".They do coming from nowhere and eating all the fish to the last... then they take off in a split of minutes.
As usually you never find a middle size tuna because in this kind of school wich is only made of massive fish: the school was made there only of 600 to about 900lb tuna...
I did several dives from 40 to 70 ft depth but I could not spot any tuna again. Probably several hundred tuna were hunting herrings, did they move away?  At the time I was thinking " aiming and shooting a giant tuna is paradoxicaly pretty hard: the target is wide, but the fish is moving fast at about 10 feet per second in changing its path all the time..."  a silvery and black blue huge shape swam suddenly in front of me then under my fins...
 I aimed the tuna in front of the head at about 6 feet range and shot. The shaft hit the fish in the middle of the body!

 The tuna vanished in a spilt of second in taking the bungee to the depth. I grabbed it and got towed as if I should be a buoy. The power of this fish is unthinkable.  I speared in summer 2009  in the Strait of Gibraltar an about 1,000lb tuna and the fight lasted about 3 hours. I have been towed without a break by this huge speared fish on about 15 miles and lost it at night.

After about thirty seconds a short break,I could get back to the surface, then the tuna took off again. The fight lasted about an hour. I suddenly felt less resistance while trying to pull the line, in vain because the fish was to heavy and I could not check it. The tuna stayed motionless at about 120ft depth and I got exhausted. The fish was dead. It has been gaffed by the captain and attached at the bow then landed on the deck with a crane.
The fish could be checked: the spear tip worked perfectly, got jammed under the skin. The shaft hit first probably the spineThe shaft hit first probably the spine


Fish has not been weighted.
The length was 124"/ 3m17 and girth 88"/ 2m23!!

The weigth estimated between 1,200 and 1,250lbs.


Gear used for the catch:
-An home-made 69" teakwood tuna gun (St. Alexander style) equiped with
a (3/8) 72'' long spear Riffe and a home-made slip tip (harpoon dart style)
-The spear is connected to the gun with a 3 mm stainless steel plastic-coated cable. Swivels, snaps, sleeves... are about 600lb resistant.
-Five 20 mm elastic bands.

-The float line is a 75' Riffe bungie (550lb nylon line core) and the float system is T Botha board (I improved in some details) + an inflatable Riffe buoy connected to the board by a
North Water Wedge SpectrX Throw Bag (used in Kayaking

Probably one of the greatest fish ever taken by a spearo!

Philippe Virgili

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