Donna Pascoe did not know what she had hooked when line began to race from her reel; she only knew that it was something enormous.
"I hooked up at 9:10 a.m. with the reel screaming," she told Saltwater Sportsman. "The fish never surfaced, so we had no idea what was on the other end. After three hours, the fish surfaced and the skipper yelled, ‘Tuna, world record!"
The Pacific bluefin tuna, caught after a four-hour marathon battle during a tournament on February 19, tipped the scale at 907 pounds.
The New Zealand Sport Fishing Council this week stated that it's the largest fish ever caught by a female angler off New Zealand. But the catch is even more significant.
The monstrous bluefin is 130 pounds heavier than the current all-tackle world record (heaviest of a species), which the International Game Fish Association lists as a 777-pound, 1-ounce Pacific bluefin caught off New Zealand by Kevin Baker last September.
The New Zealand Sportfishing Council said it planned to submit details of Pascoe's catch to the IGFA, which would then take weeks or perhaps months to review the submission.
As for Pascoe, 56, she'll remember the experience for the rest of her life regardless of whether her name is placed in the record book.
"The line was peeling out like a freight train," said Pascoe, who was fishing aboard a yacht named Gladiator. "As usual, I was pretty nervous that I might get spooled. Thankfully, the fish stopped running and I was able to get a bit of line back in."
The Houhora Big Game & Sports Fishing Club lauded Pascoe for her catch: “Congratulations to the crew of Gladiator and especially to club member Donna Pascoe for her mammoth effort of just over four hours to land this massive tuna weighing 411.6kg … The fish was caught at the Three Kings in 35 knots of wind and weather. Awesome effort Donna, Ken and your crew!”
Pascoe said she didn't feel the pain in her limbs until the battle was over.
"I was so excited that my arms and legs could have fallen off and I wouldn't have noticed," she said. "I think adrenaline is a great thing and it certainly kept me going."
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