When several people first saw Jim Gigger's world record claim swordfish in the water, no one initially appreciated its bulk.
The 404.4kg swordfish, caught on grounds out from Houhora on 37kg tackle, at one point made a huge leap not unlike that of a blue marlin, which was seen by other experienced charter boat skippers fishing the area.
John Gregory, skipper of Primetime, the vessel from which Jim made his great catch, says others had no appreciation of its size.
"When I told them it was considerably bigger than a 250kg fish I'd caught recently, they were surprised," John says.
The capture turned out to be one only swordfish anglers can dream about, with everything going to plan. Broadbill swordfish are notoriously tough fighters with a 'soft' mouth that often sees the hooks pull during a fight. Jim's fish took just on 100 minutes to land, mainly fighting it on a high drag setting.
"It was a bit like a rodeo bull ride, with the fish giving massive head shakes throughout the fight."
John says he and his crewman, Jim, were 'owed' that fish, given the numerous times big broadbill had been hooked and lost over the years.
"Everything went perfectly; the conditions were good, it was daylight, and while it was a tough fight, we always felt in control. Once I had the leader the fish became quite docile and hardly moved a muscle, even when we brought it on board."
Back at the Whangaroa club's weigh-station the fish pulled the scales down to 404.4kg, which will be the new 37kg line-class world record if ratified by IGFA. The existing mark is 369.0kg, caught by another Kiwi angler, veteran Gerry Garrett, aboard the Geoff Stone skippered Major Tom II in 2003, in the same general location.
While John and Jim have probably caught more swordfish aboard Primetime than any other non-commercial boat, they didn't have a true appreciation for the fish's size, either.
"Looking at it in the cockpit, we thought it was a little on the 'skinny' side, but when we measured the tail girth at 90cm (3ft), we realised it was just the huge bulk of the fish's body that had given us that impression."
For the record, the broadbill was 4.33 metres (14ft 5") from tip of the bill to the tail, had a 'short measure' (tail to jaw) of 3.08m (10ft 3"), and a girth of 1.90m (6ft 4").
In the March edition we reported on John's efforts in landing a 249.7kg broadbill 'solo', the boat's 140th swordfish at the time.
This total was soon added to, with Jim making the headlines this time, thanks to the re-capture of a broadbill within a nautical mile of where he had personally caught it that previous June on almost exactly the same marks.
- © Fairfax NZ News