World Record to Tasmanian Junior
For one young Tasmanian, Anzac Day will be remembered for more than the brave and selfless acts of our men and women of the Australian Defence Forces.
April 25th, 2004, in the company of his father, Dean, 11-year-old Jake Martin together with Doug Walton and his two sons from Victoria, travelled to Pedra Branca Island, south of Tasmania.
Doug and his two sons had fished the area the previous day and had landed a southern bluefin tuna estimated at around 75 kg. This was an epic battle, taking place in some very trying conditions. As a result it had been a one strike, one fish day. Returning the next day the intention was to have Doug and David tangle with a fish and then consider their options. Michael who had battled the big fish the day earlier was keen to just watch while Jake and Dean would help out and maybe take a turn on strike if time allowed.
The boat left Dover at around 7.00 am with around 10 knots of breeze and one metre of swell. Half way to Pedra, this had increased to two and a half metres of swell and 15 knots of breeze. The boat ride down to the rock was now a real ride with the odd set of three metre plus units, keeping Wayne on the wheel very alert, while he sought to maintain good boat speed. On arrival at Pedra there was a very confused sea of around two metres and a steady 15+ knots of breeze. This made travelling in the seaway interesting.
A spread of four rods was arranged upon arrival to the Island, two on flat lines and two from the outriggers. On the helm Wayne began working a predetermined pattern. First strikes of the day, a triple were all lost, followed shortly by a double again all lost. Finally another double, which this time all stuck. So the quest to find a fish for Doug and David was accomplished in a reasonably short space of time, albeit the final capture took somewhat longer. This was put down to a touch too much of the local ale the night before in David" s case. Seems Tasmanian beer is vast different to our Victorian neighbors or so David claimed.
With this requirement satisfied the question was asked who was up next to which Jake was the only one who volunteered his services. After a short deliberation it was decided to allow him a shot on 15 kg tackle (the lightest on the boat this day) and if this proved too much for him, the fish could be broken off or the rod handed to Michael.
With the knowledge that very large fish were in the area, Wayne our skipper intentionally worked wide of the areas where he had located these fish. The first strikes of the day we felt to be smaller fish and Wayne worked this area hoping to raise a suitable adversary for Jake. After around 40 minutes including trolling past a very large bait ball Jake was still yet to lay a hand on the single rod. Wayne then asked, "Well if I can't find you a small one, how about a big one'. Jake gave a "yeah" and a course was set to the beat that had produced the earlier fish. As we reached the required mark the flat line clip snapped open and the 15 kilo line started disappearing into the Southern Ocean.
From the strike and the amount of line disappearing from the Penn spool it presented as a good fish. Jake braced himself hard against the side of the boat and eased the rod very deliberately out of the holder and calmly into the gimbal. This alone was seen as an achievement and we all took station to watch the young man set to the task at hand. After 15 minutes Jake advised his arms were getting "a little tired" and he would like a harness like the others had used. So he was assisted into a kidney belt and then set back to work. Fortunately the fish spent a lot of time reasonably high in the water column, which allowed Wayne to work back onto the fish and track it when it ran. When the fish was under the boat, Jake with excellent technique was able to put good pressure on the fish and it became apparent he was not about to give up on this fish unless he had spent every cent in the bank. It was also becoming very obvious that he had a real shot at this fish. At around the 25 minute mark we got our first glimpse of color and the tempo in the boat went through the roof.
Frenetic boat driving, tons of encouragement and right on 35 minutes a gleeful father drove the gaff into his sons first southern bluefin tuna. The scene on board was jubilant to say the least and I believe there was more then one eye with a tear of joy for the lad.
Jake's fish would later bring the scales down to 52.5 kg a new World and Australian Record, not bad for age 11 and weighing 39 kilos ringing wet himself.
Special footnote and thanks - Wayne and Jake had talked about chasing world records for as long as we have fished together, usually in my boat or Double Haul, sitting on gunnels waiting for a strike or Wayne's kitchen looking onto the channel.
Wayne has always shown great patience and encouragement to Jake when we fished together. Jake had quietly asked Wayne on that day "how long he had to land a fish" to which he responded, "as long as you need'. He had jokingly told the other guys on board they had only 30 minutes to land each fish or he would cut them off which was obviously playing on his mind when he raised his hand.
Also Thanks to John and Anne Brooker of Southern Game Fishing Club plus Colin Van Den Hoff for their assistance with submitting the claim. That together with the email support of Jim Allen and Neil Patrick of the IGFA were invaluable.