Marlin - - CONTENTS - An­drew Cox Edi­tor-in-Chief

The sub­ject line in the email from Gary Carter read, “Pos­si­bly Most In­cred­i­ble 24 Hours in His­tory of our Sport,” and it im­me­di­ately grabbed my at­ten­tion. Why wouldn’t it? Carter holds sev­eral IGFA world records for bill­fish on light tackle, and I knew it had to be some­thing re­ally spe­cial for him to make such a claim. And it was. The mes­sage de­scribed two in­cred­i­ble days aboard Hookin’ Bull off New Zealand: “Just got off the phone with Guy Ja­cob­sen and John Bat­ter­ton … in a 24-hour pe­riod they caught the pend­ing 30-pound IGFA world-record sword­fish, 555.6 pounds, and then the pend­ing 20-pound IGFA world-record sword, 593 pounds. The ex­ist­ing records were 392 pounds caught in 1976 and 310 pounds caught in 1979, re­spec­tively.”

On the first day, Ja­cob­sen fol­lowed his nor­mal mantra off­shore of “dream big, plan thor­oughly.” The crew dropped a squid down to 1,500 feet on 30-pound-test and came tight al­most im­me­di­ately, but the belly in the line af­ter the ini­tial run caused the line to break. Thirty min­utes into their next drift, the fa­mil­iar slack in the line was the sign they were hop­ing for as the sword headed to­ward the sur­face. The re­sult was a 555-pounder, a record they have been chas­ing for quite some time with many sto­ries of heart­break.

But the pur­suit of the 20-pound record did not take nearly as long. The crew got a late start on the sec­ond day and hooked a fish on the first drop that they even­tu­ally ended up los­ing. The crew didn’t give up, and three baits later, they were hooked into a nice sword on 20-pound tackle. Once on deck, Bat­ter­ton be­lieved the fish would com­fort­ably beat the ex­ist­ing mark of 310 pounds. Those thoughts were ver­i­fied back at the Houhora Big Game and Fish­ing Club when the scale read 593 pounds — their claim for the record was con­firmed.

I talked to Jack Vitek over at IGFA to get some more in­for­ma­tion about the orig­i­nal records Ja­cob­sen and Bat­ter­ton had shat­tered, as well as to check on the sta­tus of their world-record ap­pli­ca­tions — they had just ar­rived. An­gler David Not­tage caught the 20-pound record off Palmilla, Baja Cal­i­for­nia, Mex­ico, and John “Jack” Wil­lits landed the 30-pound world record off Nan­tucket, Mas­sachusetts. Both record fish were caught on trolled bait (a fly­ing fish and bal­ly­hoo, re­spec­tively) dur­ing the day while the sword­fish were bask­ing in the sun.

But sword­fish­ing has changed quite a bit since those orig­i­nal world-record catches, due in large part to the ad­vance­ment of day­time deep-drop­ping tech­niques. Now it’s not un­com­mon to see gi­ant swords caught on a reg­u­lar ba­sis here in the States, and the re­cent firestorm of big sword­fish catches off New Zealand over the past cou­ple of years has flooded the In­ter­net and so­cial me­dia. But even with all those big fish, I don’t think any­one could have imag­ined some­thing like Hookin’ Bull’s his­toric catches.

Ja­cob­sen (right), Bat­ter­ton (left) and the crew of Hookin’ Bull raised the bar, but I have no doubt that oth­ers will set their sights on a new record. Will it ever be beaten? Only time will tell, but we can hon­estly say we might never see any­thing like Hookin’ Bull’s back-to-back records — it truly might be one of the great­est 24 hours in all of sport-fish­ing his­tory.

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