Skip to main content

Tuna capsizes boat, drags fisherman into Pacific before Coast Guard rescue

By David Simpson, for CNN
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Mon July 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wounded fish dives off boat with line still around fisherman's ankle
  • Dramatic cell phone call to daughter alerts Coast Guard
  • Fisherman survives with minor injuries
  • Friends salvage boat and find tuna still attached

(CNN) -- Anthony Wichman probably rather would have told the story of the one that got away.

Instead, the 54-year-old Koloa, Hawaii, man won his one-hour battle with a 230-pound Ahi tuna -- but only after the fish nearly drowned him and left him clinging to his capsized boat.

The Coast Guard said it rescued Wichman by zeroing in on his cell phone signal about 10 miles southwest of Port Allen, Kauai, Friday morning.

While gasping for air, the stranded fisherman called his daughter, Anuhea Wichman.

She told CNN affiliate KHON her father hooked the tuna and got it onto his 14-foot boat after about an hour.

"He gaffed it once in the back, and the second gaff went straight into the fish's eye and that caused the fish to take a final dive. And he dove straight down, and the line wrapped around my dad's ankle and pulled him overboard," Anuhea Wichman said.

When she answered his phone call, she said, "All I could hear was him hyperventilating, and I could hear him puking." He managed to say "sinking" and "Coast Guard."

After that call, the Coast Guard reached him on the phone and worked with 911 operators to determine his position. A rescue diver dropped from a helicopter and helped hoist him aboard.

See also: Waterproof phones and tablets make a splash

Wichman suffered only a few bruises and a rope burn, KOHN reported.

Even better, two friends who arrived to tow Wichman's boat to shore discovered the tuna still was hooked and attached to the capsized vessel.

Wichman's family asked the fishermen to keep the tuna as a token of their appreciation, KOHN said.

Nantucket man wrestles sharks

CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 5:45 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 5:15 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT