When Wyatt Morse went out on a fishing trip with two buddies on July 1, he was hoping to catch a tuna.
It was his first time fishing for tuna on his new boat, a 24-foot skiff he named “Fat2una.” And it turned out to be a memorable trip indeed, as they ended up reeling in a huge bluefin off the coast of Maine. When they measured it at the dock it was 109 inches long and weighed 700 pounds, he said.
“It was the first fish I ever caught on my new boat. I was shocked we could even catch this thing,” said Morse.
Morse set out on the trip with his friends Martin Scanlan, 16, and Griffin Buckwalter, 16. They left from a dock in Harpswell early in the morning and went out 15 miles off the coast of Portland.
Morse, 17, lives in Auburn and goes tuna fishing about once a week, if the weather is good.
“I’ve been fishing my whole life, and my dad got me into it like five years ago,” he said.
Morse is often joined by Scanlan, who lives in Aspen, Colo., and spends the summer in Maine.
It was Buckwalter’s first tuna fishing trip.
“It was pretty insane,” said Buckwalter. “We were just going out there for fun. We didn’t really expect to catch a giant tuna.”
It took them 7 hours to reel in the fish, Morse said.
“Oh I mean the adrenaline rush, it was like the craziest fight,” said Morse. “Tunas are really smart. You really need to know what you’re doing.”
At one point they had the motor off and the tuna was pulling the boat sideways, towing it at 2 1/2 miles per hour, Morse said.
“Every time you catch a fish, you’re always on your toes,” said Morse. “There’s only one way to catch them and a million ways to lose them.”
When they saw how big it was, they couldn’t believe it.
“I was speechless,” said Morse. “It was remarkable.”
Morse said it was the biggest bluefin tuna that’s he ever caught.
In fact, the tuna was big that they couldn’t get it onto Morse’s boat. They ended up calling Scanlan’s father to help them get the tuna to the shore.
The boys weighed the tuna at the dock and it clocked in at 9 feet and 700 pounds, according to Morse. It weighed 550 pounds without the head and tail, he said.
They ended up selling the tuna to a seafood business in Portland for $2,000, he said.
Morse said he is grateful to his tuna fishing mentors: his father, Steve, and Tyler McLaughlin from the TV show “Wicked Tuna.” He also said he couldn’t have landed such a big fish without the help of his two friends.
Buckwalter captured the action on video and posted the footage on YouTube for all to see.
“Martin is not your ordinary fisherman either,” said Morse. “He is very serious and knows a lot about what he is doing out there. He deserves a lot of credit — he is an amazing mate on my boat.”
Morse said he’ll always remember the trip and the battle that they waged with the big tuna.
“A memory that will never be forgotten,” he said.