OMA, Aomori Prefecture--Fishing boat captain Masahiko Yamamoto has the fish story of the new year, the day he hit the lottery at sea, landing a million-dollar catch.

Yamamoto, 57, was on his boat when he heard that a 276-kilogram bluefin tuna he landed sold at the first auction of the year at the Toyosu fish market in Tokyo on Jan. 5.

The winning bid of 193.2 million yen ($1.79 million) from a Tokyo-based sushi chain operator was the second-highest ever in the New Year's auction.

Yamamoto landed the lunker off the coast of Oma. The waters here have produced tuna fetching the highest price in the New Year's auction for nine consecutive years, making Oma famed as the “pole-and-line fishing bluefin tuna town.”

Yamamoto, captain of the Shuneimaru fishing boat, received the good news while he was fishing overnight in the Tsugaru Straits.

He became excited at the news, which he shared with Shohei, his 30-year-old son, who was on the boat.

“We did it! Our bluefin tuna received the No. 1 price at 700,000 yen per kilogram,” Yamamoto said.

Both became bluefin tuna fishermen when they were 15 or 16, following in the same paths as their fathers.

While they have landed bluefin tuna weighing around 300 kg on many occasions, they have never sold the lunkers for top dollar, which can exceed 10 million yen.

In July 2016, they lost their 28th Shuneimaru fishing vessel in an engine fire. They purchased their new boat while taking out a loan and removed "the 28th" from the name for good luck two years ago.

From the last fishing season, a catch quota was established for large bluefin tuna. This season, poor catches continued until the end of the year and fish prices have been low.

Despite the difficult conditions, they hooked the prized bluefin tuna.

“It’s fantastic, we're super happy,” Yamamoto said. He took pictures with his son to mark the occasion.

Mitsuo Saka, who leads the Oma fishery cooperative, said proudly that its fishermen have continued to make Oma more famous in succession.

Oma Mayor Mitsuharu Kanazawa hailed the winning Toyosu auction as “New Year’s happy news.”

Kanazawa said he will ask the central government to review the fishing quotas to protect pole-and-line fishermen, who are viewed as practicing the most sustainable method for protecting bluefin tuna resources.