California fisherman hooks 'monstrous' 313-pound bluefin tuna with help of shark

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An angler in Southern California got a little help from an unlikely source.

Mark Lawler, 49, was on a two-day fishing excursion off the coast of Newport Beach when he managed to reel in one of the biggest bluefin tuna ever caught in the state — thanks in part to a shark.

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Lawler was aboard the Thunderbird, out of Newport Landing, when he hooked the 313.6-pound bluefin tuna, which, according to a Facebook post by Thunderbird Fishing Co, was the largest tuna ever landed on the boat.

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Lawler, who was using a balloon to float a flying fish to attract the tuna, told USA Today's For the Win that “all of a sudden, the water splashed everywhere, [and] the fish flies out of the water.”

The angler began to struggle with the giant fish, which he could see about 60 to 70 feet down in the water.

“That shark probably cut a half an hour of time [off the fight]."

— Mark Lawler

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However, the battle came to a quick end after 30 minutes, when a shark bit the tail off the tuna and chased it to the ocean's surface.

“The deckhand looks over and sees this giant head flying toward the boat coming straight up, so he ran and got a gaff and came back and there was a shark chasing it all the way up. This thing looked monstrous,” Lawler told For the Win.

“That shark probably cut a half an hour of time [off the fight],” he added.

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Lawler, who was using a balloon to float a flying fish to attract the tuna, said “all of a sudden, the water splashed everywhere, [and] the fish flies out of the water.” (iStock)

The fisherman gave a conservative estimate to the giant catch — 313.6 pounds, 56 inches (around) and 80 inches long — but believed that measurement would have been longer if the tail had not been eaten by the shark.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the current record-holder for bluefin tuna is Kevin Scully, who hooked a 269-pound, 11-ounce fish in San Diego County in 2016, while the current lure record-holder for bluefin tuna is John Correia, who reeled in a 245-pound tuna in San Diego County, also in 2016.

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A 345.5-pound fish was also reportedly caught off the coast of San Clemente in 2017 by Joe Roder, which would smash the official California state record, although it was never officially confirmed.