Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It takes a village

Minerva’s response was immediate. "No problem, honey, I'll be there," she replied in her usual cheerful fashion.

Some International Game Fish Association (IGFA) World Records are kinda’ by accident and even taken for granted, especially the first one. But, there are those who catch record fever after accidently catching that first one…and for others, it simply becomes a lifelong pursuit.  And for many others, they become World Record “chasers” the moment they become IGFA members.
The process itself seems to be very straight forward.  Catch a contender, weigh it, measure it, photograph it, fill out the required forms and submit them to IGFA…with many individuals involved in the procedure.
For the past twenty years, I have had the honor of serving as an IGFA Representative-at-Large in Baja, one of approximately 300 men and women in 90 countries who act as ambassadors of IGFA - a liaison between the angling interests in their areas across the globe and IGFA Headquarters in the United States.
Guy Yocom's impressive catch aboard his boat El Suertudo last week was an example of what occurs after the catch, both behind the scenes and surrounding the event.
On Tuesday at 2:04 p.m., Captain Billy Miagawa, Jr. notified me that Greg Di Stefano, Captain of the El Suertudo, had reported that he was headed for Cabo San Lucas to weigh in a large yellowfin tuna caught on IGFA regulation tackle with an ETA some time Wednesday morning.
Coincidently, I had been on-hand for the last yellowfin all-tackle IGFA world record weigh-in when Mike Livingston's 405.2 was weighed in at San Diego, Calif., ultimately defeating a record that had stood for 33 years. I briefly considered flying down for the weigh-in, but airline schedules eliminated that option.
Instead, I alerted Michael Farrior, IGFA Trustee here in the U.S. and contacted Minerva Saenz, a long-time IGFA Representative and owner and operator of Minerva's Baja Tackle and Sportfishing Charters in Cabo San Lucas informing both of the impending arrival of the potential world record aboard El Suertudo.
Minerva’s response was immediate. "No problem, honey, I'll be there," she replied in her usual cheerful fashion. "I will not only arrange for a local photographer and make sure he takes all the photos needed, but I will also assist them with the application form and measurements."
Since the yellowfin tuna had been caught with a Mustad hook there was a possibility that the catch might be eligible for the $1,000,000 prize offered by Mustad. Our next step was to notify Jeff Pierce, Mustad's sales manager.
By Wednesday morning, when the behemoth fish was brought to the scale, the rumors flying around the Marina became a reality. Clearly the word was out and a large crowd gathered with Minerva and photographer, Mario Bañaga, Jr.  Minerva supervised the weigh-in and assisted with paperwork while Mario took the photos.

With the IGFA world record on the line, Captain Greg Di Stefano confirmed that prior to the trip they had been in contact with Jack Vitek, IGFA World Records’ Coordinator, sending him samples of line that would be used during the trip for testing. For that same reason it was decided to weigh the fish with two different scales and then deliver them to Giesela Muccillo at International Weighing Systems in San Diego for testing. Giesela indicated that the testing would be complete sometime during the week of the 24th when the weight would be confirmed.

Meanwhile photos of the fish taken with cell phone cameras began appearing across the Internet. One of the first places one appeared with a brief description was Brandon Hayward's blog on, followed immediately by others on Facebook…all with a slightly different versions.
Boat Captain, angler and crew were barraged by individuals on the dock, as well as by telephone, with questions seeking information that could be reported. By nightfall a Google search yielded 67 listings about the catch.

Once the paperwork is completed it will then be delivered to IGFA for review by Jack Vitek, who states: "For record approval, we have to wait a minimum of 90 days from the catch date for international claims. That being said, by the time the application is in our hands…it takes approximately 2 to 3 months, depending on the travel schedule of the President and Conservation Director as they also review the applications.”

According to Vitek there are approximately 750 IGFA World Record applications processed a year, requiring a remarkable amount of effort of what could be considered a village of IGFA staff, volunteers and many others who become involved for one reason or another ensuring that each and every World Record application is evaluated and judged fairly.