The Big Blue Ocean Exploration

Woman angler lands giant, 649-pound bluefin tuna

Leanne Dixon takes only 45 minutes to catch the fish that was more than five times heavier than her; line-class world record is in dispute

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Leanne Dixon with her 649-pound Pacific bluefin tuna. Photo from Reel Adventures Facebook page

Veteran New Zealand angler Leanne Dixon fought a huge bluefin tuna for four hours before losing it three years ago, but the disappointment led to a lesson learned. She hit the gym and became more fit, especially in the legs.

And, boy, did that come in handy a couple weeks ago.

Dixon, seeking a women’s world record for Pacific bluefin tuna caught on 130-pound-test line, hooked into another monster bluefin at 3 a.m. while fishing 60 miles off Greymouth.

“It was pretty insane this time,” she told Livesport Fishing Show in New Zealand. “For the first 20 seconds it was screaming [out line], we thought we hooked into another one that was going to cause me a lot of grief like last time.”

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Leanne Dixon with her fish back at the dock. Photo from the Reel Adventures Facebook page

But incredibly, Dixon, who weighs all of 125 pounds, landed a tuna that was more than five times her weight and she did so in only 45 minutes.

The tuna weighed a whopping 649 pounds and surpassed the line-class world record she was shooting for by 179.5 pounds.

“I’m pretty blown away really,” she told 3News New Zealand. “It’s been a dream for about four years … We’ve been down here for one attempt and it didn’t go so well for us last time. It’s nice to be back three years later and to finally be able to hang one on the scales and take it off the bucket list. Never thought I’d see the day.”

One of the contributing factors to her success was having more strength.

“I’ve been working out in the gym and getting more into the fitness end,” she told 3News. “Having been down before, I realized a bit more about what was involved if you go and try to catch these things. It’s not something you can just rock on out there and go and hunt.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t the only fish taken that day aboard the Cova Rose with Lance Goodhew skippering. In fact, Dixon’s partner, Tim Jones, also of Auckland, landed a bluefin tuna that was even bigger than Dixon’s.

Jones landed a 671-pound bluefin tuna in 90 minutes, though that fish wasn’t being claimed as a record.

As for Dixon’s world record?

If confirmed by the International Game Fish Association, she will break the 60KG (130-pound) line-class world record of 469.5 pounds for a Pacific bluefin tuna set by Sue Tindale, though some corners apparently are questioning the record.

According to Auckland Sportfishing Facebook page, Dixon made a post complaining about Shimano objecting to her world-record claim, a post that has since been removed by Dixon, who subsequently explained: ”The complaint has been removed as upon further investigation the inquiry about my catch came from a NZ IGFA rep that passed the buck on to Shimano, and I have spoken with Shimano and this is not the case hence the post was removed.”

What the objection is about is unknown. It will take a few months before IGFA makes an official ruling. Either way, it was an incredible catch, one that would be impressive for anyone, let alone a 125-pound woman fisherman.

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Tim Jones with his 671-pound bluefin tuna. Photo from the Reel Adventures Facebook page