Blackfin Tuna Record Landed off Oregon Inlet

p1184605861 Blackfin Tuna Record Landed off Oregon Inlet
Steve Lockwood hold his 40 pound state record blackfin tuna.

Steve Lockwood, of Raleigh, was the last of six fishermen to take a turn in the fighting chair of the Dream Girl that afternoon, but his fish, while among the smallest of the day, would become the one that created the most stir.

The blackfin tuna that Lockwood caught on April 14 was large enough that Brad Diaz, the mate on the Dream Girl, immediately thought it might be a new state record. Once back at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, the scales agreed with him as it surpassed the previous record by a pound. Lockwood’s blackfin weighed 40 pounds and was 41.5 inches long and had a girth of 28 inches.

The previous record of 39 pounds was caught in 2002 by Robert Spencer of Smithfield, Virginia. It was also caught off Oregon Inlet. The world record for blackfin tuna is 49 pounds and 6 ounces and was caught by Capt. Matthew Pullen off Marathon, Florida in 2006.

“This was a fantastic trip,” Lockwood said. “The ocean conditions had been near excellent, but the bite had been slow. The mate and captain on the Dream Girl wanted all of us to catch at least one fish and they had worked hard at it all day. It was past the time to head in, but everyone except me had caught a fish and the captain made the decision to stay a little longer and give it a shot. I was glad they did then and I’m even happier now.”

Lockwood said he had watched his friends battle the yellowfin tunas and the larger bluefin tunas and wondered if he might tackle one of the big boys also. Finally his turn came and when the outrigger clip popped and the reel started screaming, he was able to put all his pent-up adrenaline to use. Lockwood said it took 12 to 15 minutes to tire the tuna and bring it to the boat and it had fought so hard he was surprised it wasn’t larger. That is when Diaz identified it as a blackfin and started questioning it as a possible record. The fish hit a trolled ballyhoo.

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Lockwood’s record catch struck at 3:55 P.M., which is definitely a little later than the charter boats usually stay when fishing out of Oregon Inlet. However, the other five members of his charter had each caught a tuna, three yellowfins and two bluefins, and Jason Snead, the captain of the Dream Girl, wanted him to have the experience also. The morning bite had never really gotten going and the afternoon bite started a little late, but the rewards were good.

Lockwood’s tuna was weighed at the Weigh Station at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and the N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation form was submitted, accompanied by a picture, to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) for approval as the new state record. DMF officials certified Lockwood’s blackfin tuna as the state record on June 15.

N.C. saltwater state records can be viewed at the DMF web site at After accessing the DMF site, click on the Recreational Fishing heading and scroll down the page to the header for state records.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>