Newlywed Michael Hayes probably never imagined his name might soon be in the record books for one of the most highly sought after gamefish.
Hayes and wife Brook were on their honeymoon and took a fishing trip with Capt. JB Sirgany of Topshot Sportfishing aboard the Happy Day Today last week. While fishing less than a mile off the beach of Fort Lauderdale in 70 feet of water, something made a meal of the small bonita they were trolling.
“It crashed the bait and looked like a tarpon,” said Sirgany, who’s been fishing the area for about 50 years. Hayes grabbed the rod and watched as line peeled off at an alarming rate.
“The line was gone pretty quick,” Sirgany said. “It was like they all do, taking three or four really long runs. I coached Mike to take his time and work the fish back in, and he did great.”
After about 40 minutes of back and forth, Sirgany was finally able to see the fish. It was a monster kingfish, or king mackerel, the biggest he had ever seen.
“I saw how big he was and I told my mate Troy McDonald that the big kings have a tendency to dive under the boat so to be ready,” Sirgany said. “We stayed in front of him when he went down two or three more times. Troy was able to get the first gaff in him. Then with a second gaff we were able to get the monster in the boat.”
The longtime captain couldn’t believe the size of the fish Hayes had just landed.
“I was pretty excited,” Sirgany exclaimed. “I thought he was 80 pounds. I called a couple buddies who said they had caught some 65-pounders, but never bigger than that.”
At the dock, the fish was put on the scales. Some showed it over 100 pounds. At the official scale of the Fort Lauderdale Marina, it weighed in at a whopping 97.8 pounds, with a 71-inch length and 31-inch girth.
If certified by the IGFA it will break the 93-pound world record from a fish caught out of Puerto Rico in 1999. It will also shatter the Florida record of a 90-pound fish caught in 1976. The approval process typically takes three to five weeks.
“I never imagined a fish that big was even out there,” Sirgany said. “That was an old one. Anything over 50 pounds we consider a giant kingfish and this was nearly double that.”