Crewman lands record fish
At 91.6 pounds, yellowtail among all-time catches
By Ed Zieralski
November 25, 2003
It took eight minutes Friday for San Diegan Tom Lambert to go from being an unknown crewman aboard the Qualifier 105 to a sportfishing celebrity and legend.
Lambert, 40, a former framing carpenter turned crewman and licensed captain, took just eight minutes to hook and land the biggest California yellowtail ever caught in recorded sport fishing history.
At 91.6 pounds and measuring 68 inches long, the spectacular catch is a potential International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record. It was caught at Baja's Guadalupe Island, 220 miles from Point Loma, aboard John Klein's Qualifier 105, with Capt. Joe Crisci at the wheel.
"I was in the right place, at the right time and had the right gear," Lambert said yesterday after weighing the huge fish at Point Loma Sportfishing. "Everything came together."
"And he was the right person," added Crisci.
Legend or not, Lambert went right back to work after the catch, helping with tangled lines, gaffing fish, doing all the crewman's chores on a long-range trip.
"Funny, but everyone wanted Tommy's help after that," Crisci said.
If approved by the Florida-based IGFA, Lambert's trophy breaks the current all-tackle, world-record mark for yellowtail at 88 pounds, 3 ounces, caught by the late Ronald Fujii on the Shogun in 2000. Tragically, Fujii died three days later after suffering a heart attack on the boat.
Lambert, a Qualifier 105 crewman for five years, decided to fish when fishing slowed Friday at noon on the trip's second day of a five-day run. Boat owner John Klein and boat captains Brian Sims and Crisci allow crewmen to fish during such lulls.
"These guys work on these boats because they love to fish," said Sims, who wasn't on the season's final trip. "The anglers were satiated from yanking and cranking on yellowfin. Tommy fishing at that point isn't an issue."
Said veteran angler and passenger Tom Link: "Most of the people on these trips are real fishermen. They truly appreciated seeing that fish. It was a good trip, great for yellowfin tuna. But that catch made it a trip we'll never forget."
Harvey Siegel of Laguna Beach, another veteran long-ranger, said Lambert's catch lifted everyone.
"I was as thrilled for him as I would have been had I caught it myself," Siegel said. "It was the most thrilling experience I've ever had on a fishing trip."
Lambert started the historical catch by borrowing a rig from crewman Cal Link, who is Tom Link's son. He used Link's two-speed Penn 50T reel, with 80-pound Big Game line and a Calstar 660XXH rod. He pinned a sardine to a 5/0 Eagle Claw hook and a Baja dropper loop weighted with a 1-pound sinker. The big yellowtail didn't have a chance against that gear and Lambert's considerable angling skills. He's landed yellowfin to 180 pounds.
Lyons & O'Haver Taxidermy will prepare an artistic mount of the fish, destined for a prominent place in Tom and Barbie Lambert's home.
"Barbie is mad at me because I told her our wedding pictures need to come down to make room for the mount," Lambert said.
DAY 3 - FRIDAY - NOVEMBER 21, 2003
We woke up this morning after plenty of rest after spending the night in a flat calm ocean anchored up next to a beautiful island. And with the first cast of a fly-lined sardine came our first fish of the day. We kept fishing and the fish kept biting. When the fish finally quit biting it turned out to be a repeat of yesterday with a little surprise thrown in, actually it was a pretty big surprise. During the lull of lunchtime just a few passengers were fishing so crewmember Tom Lambert decided to do a little fishing. While sending a live sardine to the bottom on a dropper loop with 80 lb. test line he got bit on the way down. After a very brief struggle a monster yellowtail was gaffed and pulled aboard. We looked at it for a while with jaws agape. We then decided to weigh it on the boat scale. On a flat calm sea with no movement it weighed out at a solid 93 lbs. which could possibly be a new world record. What a day!
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: bay park
Q105 5day BIG YT 11-19/11-24
Just got back to the dock this morning on what was called a "5day yellowtail special". this being the last 5 day trip of the year, and the last trip of the year for the Q105, I used my $$$$ that was hiding in a holding account to jump on board. I've been itching for LR fishing for a while, and this was my best (only) choice. it was an ultra light load of only 19 passengers!
From the start, I was worried we would have to head to Cedros, or Benito's for a snap at the YT's. its a long ride down there for a 5 day trip, and the swell is always nasty coming back from benitos/cedros. as luck would have it, we spent the entire time camped out at the lupe (mostly westy's) nailing 25 to107lb (jackpot) chuna. average size went~25-40lbs.
On our first 1/2 day of fishing, we put 130 YFT's into the brine. it was an outstanding afternoon of fishing, and was a full speed classic 'lupe bite with 5-7 fish going all afternoon. sick, sick, sick!!
We spent most of the time working the tuna, and had them constantly swirling around the boat. this was one of the most consistant bites I'd had at that island...fantastic fishing!
The highlight of the trip, was actually crew based...DH-Mr. Tom Lambert landed was it now believed to be the new all tackle world record yellowtail. a BEHEMOTH of remarkable size that needs to be seen in person to even comprehend how massive a YT this is.
On friday afternoon (...can't recall), most of the passengers were inside having lunch (i was in my stateroom), when Tommy hooked up on the monster. he was using cal link's (another Q105 DH) dropper rig and got bit on a dine on his way to the bottom. tommy horsed it in and had it to the boat in less than 15 minutes. i just remember hearing this THOWMP-THOWMP-THOWMP on the deck, and ran upstairs to see what was going on.
When I first saw the head, I didn't know what it was. I was like...is THAT a yellow??? Joe, the skipper had originally thought it was a grinner when it first came up, it was so huge, that it looked strange.
on the skiff wench scale that hangs above the galley, the thing weighed in at ~93.8 lbs. its tail was above the galley door...OVER 6 feet long!!! on the certified scale at the dock....91.6 pounds. a new pending all line class world record!
Tommy is one of the nicest guys, and hard working deck hands that you'll ever meet. I had a great time fishing the 105 (as usual!) and can't wait to go again.
I attached this on another post earlier, but here it is again (above). This picture does not do this incredible creature any justice