108-Pound Kayak Ahi
By Mike Stevens
When 35-year-old Ocean Kayak pro Rob Wong Yuen paddled a mile offshore of the Big Island, Hawaiian standards like ahi (yellowfin tuna) and ono (wahoo) were certainly in his crosshairs, but landing a tuna of this magnitude could not have been predicted on this day.
Yuen is very familiar with this area, and after catching some live bait it didn't take long for the veteran kayak angler to get on the board with a 20-pound class yellowfin that took the first bait he sent out. After another hour live-bait trolling down the coast, he hooked and landed a decent wahoo, and the day already was feeling like a success.
It wasn't long after his third bait entered the water that lightning struck, and this already-productive day in the water would become an epic that he will remember forever.
He had just set the drag on the Penn International 16vs when the rod doubled over and his 60-pound mono started peeling off the reel to start the battle, but it ended sooner than one might expect.
According to Yuen, the reel — that was packed with 80-pound Power Pro under the mono leader — was perfectly matched to a Penn International Stand-up V-rod rated for 50- to 100-pound line, and the battle was over with the fish in his lap within 20 minutes of hooking up. It wasn't really over at that point.
"Fighting this fish was half the battle," he said. "Getting it on without flipping the boat is the other half. It’s hard to tell in the video, but my 'yak is on the verge of flipping from trying to hoist up the fish. It takes the perfect amount of balance and then counter balance once it starts to slide aboard to get them on the 'yak."
Speaking of the kayak itself, Yuen loves his Ocean Kayak Trident 15 because of the stability that allows him to land fish like this, and he also digs it for the amount of storage it features. As far as customizations, he has kept it relatively simple with a fish finder / GPS unit, a handful of rod holders and camera mounts, and a rudder hit that he says is crucial for his style of fishing.
"I would have to say my oversize aftermarket rudder blade helps me land these bigger fish by letting me track them easily during the battle," he added.
While yellowfin tipping the scales at all the way up to 170 pounds are on record, anything over 100 is nothing to shake a stick at, and for we mainlanders, the ability to catch fish like this a short paddle from dry land is nothing short of drool worthy.
We also hope you stuck around for the end of the video, when Yuen, with the fish secured in his kayak, proudly digs in for home only to pause, sit up, take a look around and thrust a fist skyward. Silently explaining why we do this in one symbolic gesture.