Southern Bluefin Tuna World Record
In August 2015 Ken and Donna and the crew on Gladiator once again caught a world record. Below is Donna’s story of the catch.
On Sunday afternoon we headed out in Gladiator to run the new engines that we had put in the previous week. Of course no use going round and round in circles running them in so it was a good excuse to go and do some winter fishing.
We had planned on fishing the Garden Patch up the top of the North Island and started heading there from Auckland. We were about 4 hours into our trip when there was talk about the Southern Bluefin tuna off the back of Barrier. As the area is very big and we had never previously fished that area, we were not keen to just head there without having some idea of a particular place to target. A quick text to a commercial fisherman that we know and we had an area to try. The commercial fisherman himself was going to head there as well. On looking in the book we realised the 60kg lineweight for women was vacant. We did a sharp 90 degree turn and off we headed, 60 miles out from the back of Great Barrier Island.
We arrived in the area about 5.30am and saw a boat on the radar. Going over to it there was no sign of life onboard so all must have been sleeping. Off we went trolling with two 60kg lines in the water. I was not keen to have any other line weight in the water as I would have been disappointed if we had caught a tuna and it was not on 60kg.
At about 6.45 I saw a pod of whales in the water so we decided to head over to them and see what was going on. Five minutes later we hooked up. I ran to grab the rod and jumped into the chair and strapped myself in. I had memories of 4 hours on a 411kg pacific bluefin tuna and the fight I had so was prepared for another battle. Amazingly the fish appeared very light and didn’t really fight. Based on this we thought it may have been an albacore. I had the fish alongside the boat in a very short time and we were able to see that it was in fact a reasonable size bluefin tuna. 11 Minutes in total for this fight.
Once onboard we started to identify the tuna and became very confident it was a southern bluefin tuna.
We called Far North Radio on our satphone and asked Annette to make arrangements at the nearest club that would have a weighmaster capable and prepared to weigh a pending world record. This station was at Whitianga, 80 miles from where we were and slightly south. On arrival at the weighstation word had got around and there were over 100 people standing on the wharf waiting to see the tuna being weighed in. I felt like royalty with all the camera flashes, very humbling to be greeted by so many people. The tuna weighed 80kg.
We were advised that even though Whitianga is considered the tuna capital of New Zealand, this was the first ever Southern Bluefin tuna they had ever weighed.
In February 2016 the tuna was ratified by the IGFA as the women’s 60kg world record.