If you look in the most recent IGFA World Record Book, you will find that my daughter, Brittany Wilem, holds the world record for female small fry king mackerel. I know this because every year she checks as soon as the book arrives in the mail. She then turns the pages to check on her two red snapper world records.
After confirming that all three of her records remain intact, she then turns to me for her annual gloat. “And how many records do you have Dad?” Of course the answer is none. In my defense, the men’s records are a little harder to beat, at least that’s my story.
It started when we were fishing the Turks and Caicos Classic billfish tournament and entered Brittany in the small fry category at the tender age of eight. I believe she was the only angler in her category so when she reeled in a small barracuda, she won. As this was a qualifying event, she was then invited to fish in the inaugural IGFA Junior Angler World Championship held in Key West. While she didn’t win that tournament, she did catch a 35lb king mackerel which proved to be a world record.
A couple of years later, the crew of Vixen were headed out in search of cobia after hearing promising fishing reports the previous week. Maybe the front that had passed through a couple days earlier upset their feeding. But after a couple of hours spent checking every rig we could find and failing to even catch a glimpse of one, we were convinced that the fish either weren’t there or just weren’t eating.
The Vixen team then faced the option of continuing to search for cobia in hopes that they might pop up to the surface in the afternoon which they sometimes do, or to leave and go bottom fishing. Since we had not had any luck jigging at depth either, we opted to go check out a couple of our favorite snapper holes.
*** [This post ran in the Sun Herald on March 3, 2013 p . 6B] ***
As soon as we were on location, we dropped down and were catching nice snapper in the 8 to 10 pound range when Brittany hooked up with a much larger fish. We were suitably impressed when she finally got it up to the surface and saw that it was well over 20 pounds. While Britt was thrilled to land the “fish of the day,” on the trip home, she got even more excited.
At Capt. Eric Gill’s suggestion, we checked the IGFA world record book and found that Brittany’s 24.2 pound red snapper not only broke the female junior angler world record but the adult women’s 30 pound class record as well! Not bad for a 12-year-old girl, but it got even better. She had broken the same record that her mother, DeeDee, had set 4 years earlier with a fish nearly twice the size!
Breaking world records, especially for children, is not as hard as you might think though it helps to be familiar with the procedure for filing an entry beforehand. You can find world record applications and detailed information on the IGFA website.
Basically, you have to have the fish weighed with a certified scale and submit photos showing: the species, the weigh scale reading, the length of the fish, and the girth. You should also save and submit the hook, leader, and a section of line as the IGFA will test it. Needless to say Brittany, laid it on pretty thick, gloating about having beaten her mom. But her mom got the last laugh when Britt ran into a little snag.
When the Vixen team fishes tournaments or attempts to break records, we take care to use line that will break at its rated strength. But we were bottom fun-fishing on this trip and the line we were using had a reputation for breaking over line class. Sure enough, the sample we provided for IGFA testing broke at 10% over line class. In this situation, IGFA bumps the applicant to the next higher line class which, in her case, was the 50 pound. And she still won!
So while even world record breaking girls find breaking records to be tough, it’s particularly unusual to break two records—with one fish. Take it from a guy who is regularly reminded that he’s never broken a world record.
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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