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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Pacific bluefin tuna record caught by Ellensburg angler

Pacific bluefin tuna.
Pacific bluefin tuna.

FISHING -- Sam Ellinger of Ellensburg has set a state record for the largest Pacific bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Washington, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed.  

The 39.20-pound tuna measured 41 inches and was caught 28 miles offshore southwest of Grays Harbor.

Ellinger, a student at Central Washington University, said he began the day early and was bait-fishing with anchovies, "from the crack of dawn until it got dark."

"Catching a fish this size was pretty exhausting," he said.  "We didn't know what we hooked until we got it on the boat."

The previous Pacific bluefin tuna record was caught in 2012 by Patrick Fagan while fishing 35 miles offshore from Westport.

Pacific bluefin tuna facts courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

  • Among the largest and fastest fish in the ocean.
  • Streamlined to reduce drag around their fins for energy conservation on long-distance journeys. Tuna also can become super-streamlined by retracting or folding fins against the body so water flows even more smoothly over their bodies.
  • Capable of swimming 12-18 mph for brief periods.
  • Unlike most fish, tuna are warm-blooded and can heat their bodies to 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding water. This added warmth helps their muscles work faster and more efficiently.
  • Consume as much as five percent of their body weight daily and must continually swim with their mouths open to force water over their gills, supercharging their blood-rich muscles with oxygen.
  • Migrate more than 6,000 nautical miles to the eastern Pacific, eventually returning to their birth waters to spawn off of Okinawa, between Taiwan and the Philippines and in the Sea of Japan.
  • Overfished throughout the world.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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