I received an IM from Russell E. Fritz recently about his personal ‘best catch’ at East Cape — a 110-pound wahoo. He questioned whether it would have been a record on 30-pound test continuing that it wouldn’t have mattered because the scale was an old sliding weight scale, probably not calibrated since manufacture, and wouldn’t be certifiable. It had been used for weighing cows after slaughter.
HE QUESTIONED WHETHER it would have been a record on 30-pound test continuing that it wouldn’t have mattered because the scale was an old sliding weigh scale, probably not calibrated since manufacture, and wouldn’t be certifiable.
As it turned out, the current IGFA World Record is held by Dean Ettinger, MD, who spends quite a bit of time at Los Barriles and has fished there for years, evidenced by the date of his record which was caught in 1994 on 30-pound test and weighed 127 pounds.
Back to Fritz’s wahoo: “The fish measured 5 feet, 11 inches long, from the nose to the fork in the tail, and was 34 inches in girth at the midsection. My reel is a Penn 16 two-speed, with over 300 yards of 50-pound Spectra, with a top-shot of 200 yards of 30-pound Ande mono. The lure was a Billy Bait black & purple, Shake Rattle & Troll — 10-inch long Mylar skirt, with a heavy head.” He further mentioned that his 30-pound top shot had been attached to the 50-pound spectra backing.
I explained that because the two were attached, the heavier line would have been the line class used to determine the IGFA World Record.
He responded with a question. “Is that true for fly fishermen who use a 10-pound tippet and 50-pound backing? The logic seems a bit contrary, to count the backing as the line test, when the lighter line is what the fish is being fought on, for most of the fight. I know I’m showing my ignorance, and a bit of old age crankiness and no harm is intended. Very little of today's world seems to make sense to me anymore. I do not wish to tilt at windmills...”
I referred Fritz to the IGFA Rules: https://www.igfa.org/Fish/INTERNATIONAL-ANGLING-RULES.aspx
If the fishing line is attached to backing, the catch shall be classified under the heavier of the lines.
Any type of fly line and backing may be used. The breaking strength of the flyline and backing are not restricted. Only the leader (tippet) breaking strength matters.
Since I’m often asked about fishing in a small boat at East Cape, at my request, Fritz shared the details of his fishing day in his small boat out of La Ribera. Here is a synopsis of his day:
He and a buddy left from the La Ribera Marina before sun up. After paying their launch fee and collecting some bait at the receiver, they cleared the jetty around 6 a.m.
For several years, Fritz and his fishing buddy have been targeting wahoo, trolling fairly fast (14 mph) on their way to wherever they plan to fish. This particular day, it was off Los Frailes where they would bait fish for yellowfin tuna on the drift, then troll for wahoo on the return trip.
According to Fritz, they trolled with heavy-head, large feather jigs, rigged with short wire, and long 300-pound mono, purple/black with chrome Mylar in one corner. His choice as he followed the old rule: 'Dark day, dark lure." The opposite lure was dark blue/white with the same chrome Mylar. However, they had no bites as they ran down to their tuna spot.
The return trip to Punta Arena was the same until they were above the Lighthouse where they landed a 16-pound dorado in 170 feet of water. After several circles of the area, they headed for the Marina. Approximately one mile south of the entrance in 80-feet, they had a rod doubling strike that peeled off nearly 350 yards of line! No jump — so they assumed the fish was either a wahoo or large jack crevalle. Even after several more runs, they still had no clue as to what it was. Repeatedly, Russell could feel the head shake, and the line shudder, but not the pump… pump… pump of a big tuna!
The first time he brought the fish to the boat, his fishing partner, Boney, saw that the mono leader was in his mouth and spoke very rapidly in Spanish, with Russell catching only one word "Toyota"... indicating a prize-winning fish. Boney gaffed it behind the head, and held it while Fritz got a second gaff in, and together they pulled the large wahoo over the rail and into the fish box.
“This fish swallowed almost 18 inches of lure and leader, and had the 300-pound mono in his jaws. Why he did not snip it off, I will never know!”… Russell E. Fritz
When I shared the story with Michael L. Farrior, IGFA Trustee and experienced world angler who was inducted into the California Hall of Fame recently, he advised. “Be prepared…IGFA World Records are one bite away!” He added, “I cannot overemphasize the importance of reviewing the IGFA Rules and Regulations and making sure ones tackle is in conformance before that world record catch comes along!”