ROCKPORT — A longtime tuna sports fisherman from Rockport was on the winning team at an historic tournament in Nova Scotia.
Jules Boudreau, a familiar face in local fishing circles, and his son John Boudreau, were on the first place team in the Wedgeport Tuna Tournament, landing a giant bluefin tuna that tipped the scales at 730 pounds.
That was the weight after it was gutted, meaning the fish’s overall weight was closer to 800 pounds. The fishermen on the 50-foot Vernon P. had lost two other tunas — one of which broke the rod in two — before landing this one that didn’t get away.
By comparison, the second-place tuna hauled in at the international tournament weighed in at 603 pounds; the biggest bluefin caught during the first Bluefin Blowout tournament last month hit the scales at 582.
The Wedgeport Tuna Tournament & Festival has been a success since its revival in 2004 — 28 years after the international tourney, which dates back to the mid 1930s, was stopped. Each year since its rebirth, it has attracted a growing number of fishermen, primarily from Canada and the United States.
Jules Boudreau, a Nova Scotia native, knows Wedgeport well because he was born and raised there, when the town was known as the tuna capital of the world. He fished out of the local tuna club there in the 1950s during his college days, before moving to the United States.
The oldest of eight children, when he was a boy in Catholic school, a nun asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said “a fisherman.” In reply, the nun told him that he was too good in math and he should be an engineer — which he did, having had a long career as an electrical engineer.
But fishing was never off his personal radar, and he fished out of Cape Ann Marina for 40 years on the 42-foot Hatteras Jean Anne.
This was his third time taking part in the Wedgeport tournament, he said; he placed second the first two years, and took home this year’s top prize on the boat of his friend and Capt. Kenny D’Entremont. They were one of 14 boats in the competition this year with a crew of eight.
This year’s tournament brought in 5,203-pounds of bluefin tuna, which were sent off to the Tokyo fish auction.
“The weather was just perfect for this tournament,” said Boudreau. “We were gone for three days from the dock.”
Wedgeport has been successful in bringing back its reputation in the world of tuna fishing. In 2008, 16 Bluefin were landed to the delight of the organizers.
The biggest tuna Boudreau ever landed, he said, was a 1,000-pounder, caught in 1981 by his daughter, Jeannine, who was then 17, and pulled in “with the help of everyone else on the boat,” he recalled. That was another great fish story about one that never got away.
Boudreau has been a longtime volunteer tagger of the giant bluefins. In 2006, he received an award from the International Game Fish Association for tagging the most tuna in 2006. He attended the banquet at the posh Breakers Hotel in Florida.
At one point, he received a letter from the Cooperative Tagging Center in Miami, a program under the auspices of NOAA, with information pertaining to a bluefin he tagged in 2005 off the coast of Rockport, when it weighed an estimated 100 pounds. The letter said the fish was caught 1,767 days later in 2010 in an area off the coast of southern Spain and north Africa -- 2,458 nautical miles away. The fish weighed in then at 470 pounds.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.