‘Smallfry’ or pro, anyone can hold a fish record.
Catch a big one? Offshore, in a freshwater lake, or tucked in a Bahamian cove, that “fish on” could be a world record.
Even Paloma Guerra, in the “Smallfry” category for ages 10 and under, caught a world-record bluefin trevally from a yacht tender in Cebaco Bay, Panama, said Zack Bellapigna of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA).
Yacht crew, owners, and guests are perfect candidates to take such honors, he said. Bellapigna certifies records as the angler recognition coordinator with the nonprofit organization. People are often surprised by the diversity of record- holders like Guerra, and although her record was retired (meaning beaten) in 2011, there are plenty more categories. Just this year, three new species have been recognized for records, Bellapigna said.
“For any species that we don’t hold a record, an individual can set that record,” Bellapigna said. Whether in the Caribbean, the Atlantic, the Pacific, or anywhere else, if you don’t see it on the IGFA website, follow the instructions to submit a catch as a world record.
As a scientist, Bellapigna takes the IGFA’s mission of conservation and responsible, ethical angling practices seriously. He processes six to eight applications a day to certify records using scale calibration, line test strength, photograph authenticity, and other factors.
Last year, a yacht captain submitted what he believed to be a record-breaking fish. But the certification process showed the fish’s category was misclassified and it was caught by an electric reel. These reels are not allowed for IGFA records. And there are other requirements.
“You can’t weigh on a boat at sea, you have to stand on earth,” Bellapigna said. “Find someone with a certified scale, then send a photo of the certification sticker or date.”
To submit an entry, upload photos of the angler with the fish, with the rod and reel, the scale, and the scale certification. Also, mail the actual tackle, hook attached to the leader, and 50 feet of main line to be tested. Specific details are listed at igfa.org.