Man vs. Ahi – A Fish Tale

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Wichman’s friends retrieved his boat and the 230 pound ahi that was still attached to it. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)

There are certain types of fishing that are more dangerous than others. Chasing big tuna, alone, and in a small boat is one them. This was learned by Anthony Wichman of Hawaii last year when he hooked onto a 230-pound ahi while fishing solo in his 14 foot skiff off the coast of Kauai. After an hour of fighting the human sized fish, he got it to the boat and had gaffed it once, which seemed to subdue it. Then he gaffed it a second time, and the tuna abruptly came to life, diving so suddenly that Wichman didn’t have time to step out of the fishing line around his legs. Before he could do anything about it, the fouled line cinched tightly around his legs, and then the massive fish pulled him up and over the gunwales, and into the sea.

Wichman recollects his efforts to untangle the fouled line as he first entered the water, but there was too much tension. With every second he was getting deeper and deeper until he felt there was nothing more he could do. He thought about his granddaughter, and it occurred to him that he didn’t have much longer.

Then the fish stopped. Wichman quickly untangled his legs and rose to the surface choking on sea water and vomiting. In the struggle between man and fish, the boat had somehow capsized, but it floated and gave Wichman something to hang on to. He then used his waterproof cell phone to call his daughter and then 911. The Coast Guard was able to track Wichman using his cell phone signal.

After receiving the call from Wichman, his daughter Anuhea first called 911, and then she called her father’s fishing buddies who immediately mobilized to help find their friend. The Coast Guard helos got to Wichman before his friends, but they were able to recover his boat. Amazingly, the giant ahi was still on the fishing line which was snagged on the boat. They recovered most of Wichman’s fishing gear as well and even managed to right his capsized boat, which they towed back to port.

Which proves my theory that there’s nothing like a good fishing buddy.

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(Left photo) Coast Guard photo of Wichman’s capsized boat (Right photo). Wichman in happier times with a smaller tuna than the ahi that pulled him overboard.

I was in awe of this amazing story, I mean it reads like something out of a movie, and there’s probably nobody that knows that better than Wichman, who according to his daughter, is very grateful, not only for the chopper crew who flew out to find him, but also for his fishing buddies who brought back his boat. He was so thankful that he gave them the ahi, worth about $1400, as a token of his gratitude.

Like I said–there’s nothing like a good fishing buddy.

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