A Washington angler caught a winner after reeling in a fish that is like “winning the lottery.”
Wade La Fontaine, from Camino Island, said he decided to join a charter boat when he was told two extra seats were available late last month.
“It was a really nice day on the way. [The] bar crossing was great,” La Fontaine told Fox News Digital.
“[As] soon as we got into about, I don’t know, I guess it was about five or six thousand feet of depth, the weather started to pick up and it was starting white cap. It was probably 15 mph winds,” he added.
At that point in the trip, Fontaine and the rest of the crew on board had caught three tuna.
Hours had passed before anyone saw movement on the lines that had been set — but the wait appeared to be worth it.
Fontaine was right beside the rod that went off, and he knew he had to act quickly, he said.
“To get one of those exotic species, I prayed for that for 10 years.”
“You’ve got to be on [the rod] really quick to get from a transition to a troll to live bait,” Fontaine shared as he described the process of catching a tuna.
“You have basically 20 or 30 seconds to get a live bait rod in the water and you’ve got to get all those other rods that you were trolling with out of the water,” he added.
Fontaine said that when he looked into the water to see what he had caught, he saw something white with blue speckles.
He immediately notified the rest of the team that it was not a tuna and everyone started “to freak out,” he recalled.
As Fontaine and the captain, Kevin Johnson, pulled the fish aboard, the entire charter crew couldn’t stop screaming after realizing what it was they had caught — an exotic mahi mahi.
“To get one of those exotic species, I prayed for that for 10 years,” Fontaine commented.
“It was truly something I never thought would happen,” he continued.
Captain Keith Johnson of Far Corners Fishing Charters had a feeling the fish was large enough to have surpassed the previous Washington state record for mahi mahi, Fontaine shared.
Johnson reached out to has wife as the crew was on their way back to the shore, asking her for information about the former record which stood at 16.27 pounds, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
Fontaine said he thought his catch was close to 20 pounds, but he had to wait until he made it to the dock and weigh the massive fish.
“I was just really lucky to be there at that rod.”
Once Fontaine and his crew of six made it back to the dock, they had to search for a certified scale to weigh the fish.
He eventually found a scale that fit the specificities of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requirements, and a WDFW fish program biologist joined the angler to take a look at the mahi mahi.
“Every minute that it is dead and on ice, [the fish] is losing weight, so you’ve got to be pretty quick on it,” Fontaine noted.
A large group started to gather at the dock and eagerly waited to see the fish because it does not happen often, he continued.
The WDFW reported that Fontaine had caught a 21 pound, 48-inch-long mahi mahi nearly 42 miles off the coast of Washington on Aug. 25.
Fontaine believes the after effects of tropical storm Hilary played a large role in brining the warm water current further north which may have brought in the exotic fish.
“I was just really lucky to be there at that rod,” he shared.
“That’s my playground,” he added.