By Brian Lichterman | NB Indy
Last week, Newport Beach residents Randall Hause (age 17), Daniel Segerblom (age 15), and Sean Segerblom (age 12) had a fishing experience that will last them a lifetime.
The three boys wrestled with an enormous 143-pound opah fish off the waters of Crystal Cove, ultimately securing their catch.
It’s the type of story that you tell your grandchildren, but they don’t believe you. You hear old, salty fisherman talk about it, but never have any witnesses or support to back up their claim. In this case however, “the one that got away,” didn’t, and never stood a chance.
The boys set out Friday morning on Hause’s boat, fishing with live squid as bait. They were anchored in about 60 feet of water off the shores of Crystal Cove when they hooked what seemed to be a large fish of some sort.
The boys battled the fish while passing the rod around so each boy had a chance to reel it in, when the line snapped, and the fish was gone. Shortly after, the boys spotted the fish’s fin near the surface, so they pulled up their anchor and continued their pursuit of their big catch.
They maneuvered the boat close to wrangle the large fish with a net, but it turned out the fish was bigger than they thought and much too big for their net. So, they wound up gaffing (hooking) the fish and tying a rope around its tail fin.
Not knowing what to do next, Randall Hause called his father for advice. He told his dad he had hooked something big, but didn’t know what it was, and therefore was unsure of its legality and edibility. Hause described the fish to his father, and thank goodness for technology, snapped a photo with his cell phone and sent it along to his him.
Confirming his belief, Hause’s father told him it was an opah fish (aka moon fish) and was not only legal and edible, but rare to find and considered a delicacy in many restaurants.
There are two living species of opah fish in a single genus. The type of opah fish that the boys caught (Lampris Guttatus) is the more common of the two, but still a rare catch. According to many fishing websites, the opah fish is rarely caught by recreational anglers, but are prized trophies of deep sea fisherman.
The next step for the boys was getting the behemoth on board. After nearly 45 minutes of struggling, they finally managed it, but another problem arose. Still on the phone with his father, Randall Hause was told to put the fish in the ship’s hold and return to shore. The problem was that the fish was much too big to fit in the ship’s hold and took up the entire engine compartment.
Excited and elated, the boys returned to the Balboa Angling Club and Newport Harbor Yacht Club to share their one-that-didn’t-get-away fish story with the world.