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 2:18 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
While aspects of the fighting in Gaza resemble earlier clashes, this time feels different, writes military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 11:54 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
If India and the U.S. were Facebook friends, the relationship between them would undoubtedly be "complicated." Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit change that?
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The death of an American from Ebola fuels fears of the further global spread of the virus.
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Take a look inside Airbus' new -- and surprisingly quiet -- A350XWB.
updated 7:08 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Flowers, a teddy bear and the smells of jet fuel and death haunt the MH17 crash site.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
Nearly two weeks after MH17 was blown out of the sky, Dutch investigators have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage. How useful will it be now?
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The U.S. and EU are imposing new sanctions on Moscow -- but will they have any effect?
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT