World-record tuna caught by 12-year-old girl

World-record tuna caught by 12-year-old girl
Jenna Gavin is congratulated on her world-record tuna by Ken Fraser, who holds the current all-tackle world-record Atlantic bluefin tuna of 1,496 pounds, caught in 1979. Photo by Russell Kleppinger courtesy of Giant Bluefin Tuna Charters

A 12-year-old girl whose biggest previous catch was a mackerel landed a world-record tuna after a two-hour battle last week in Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia.

Jenna Gavin reeled in a 618-pound Atlantic tuna and smashed the previous world-record tuna for a junior girl, much to the disbelief of the boys at her school, according to The Chronicle Herald. But the photos and video don’t lie.

CTV News Atlantic did a news report about the catch and showed some of the fishing footage, which will no doubt help the International Game Fish Association confirm the world-record catch.

Gavin’s world-record tuna is pending approval by the IGFA, though there is little reason to believe it won’t confirm the record. The current (and soon-to-be previous) world record for junior girls (ages 11 to 16) was 431 pounds by Andrea George in Sausset, France, in August 2002.

“When I was sitting in the [fighting] chair, I was extremely nervous,” Gavin told CTV News. “I was scared for when he bit. It was so amazing to feel his every move and to be able to get to feel him pulling with all his strength against you. I mean, it did hurt, yes it did, but it felt so cool.

“I was really shocked to see how big he was. Like, he was so big. Like, I mean, he didn’t weigh that much, but he was really big.”

Jenna Gavin World Record Tuna
Jenna Gavin battled her world-record tuna for 2 hours. Photo by Russell Kleppinger courtesy of Giant Bluefin Tuna Charters

John and Chandra Gavin, Jenna’s parents, own Giant Bluefin Tuna Charters, a catch-and-release tuna fishing charter service that, under their license, allows them to keep one fish per season. This was the fish they kept.

They were aware of the current world-record tuna for junior girls and went targeting one bigger.

“We don’t have many small fish like that in Northumberland Strait, so we figured she should be able to break the record,” Chandra told The Chronicle Herald. “I had faith in her that she could do it. She’s strong like her father. I just prayed she didn’t hook a real huge fish or a mean one.”

Jenna wore a fishing harness that was attached to the fighting chair with a safety line. Her parents, who are also commercial lobster fishermen, weren’t allowed to help her in any way, lest she be disqualified from the world record.

“My only real strategy was stamina,” she told The Chronicle Herald. “I started slow, so that I would have energy at the end when it mattered.”

Through cramps in her arms and hands, and being lifted out of her fighting chair momentarily when a pilot whale slapped her 130-pound-test line, Jenna persevered.

The fish was later processed commercially and delivered to market in the U.S.

Where did some of the proceeds go? Toward helping pay for Jenna’s braces.

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