12-Year-Old Girl Catches Record-Busting 618-Pound Bluefin Tuna

Jenna Gavin from Nova Scotia feasibly obliterated the International Game Fish Association’s female youth record for bluefin tuna by over 180 pounds, when the 12-year-old hauled a 618-pound fish from the waters of Northumberland Strait on October 7. Her massive bluefin could be the biggest fish ever caught by a girl between the ages of 11 and 16.

According to a story from GrindTV, Gavin and her parents, John and Chandra, who own Giant Bluefin Tuna Charters, went fishing that day with one goal in mind—to catch a record-sized bluefin. "When I was sitting in the chair, I was extremely nervous," explains Gavin. "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."

In order to beat the old record, Gavin had to reel in the fish without any assistance, per IGFA rules. Though her mother and the crew gave her advice, she fought the fish alone for nearly two hours, even when a passing pilot whale slapped her 130-pound line, momentarily lifting her out of the fighting chair. “We don’t have many small fish like that in Northumberland Strait, so we figured she should be able to break the record,” the girl's mother 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.”

Coincidentally, Ken Fraser, the man who set the current IGFA bluefin record of 1,496 pounds in 1979, was fishing nearby and docked his boat in the same marina as the Gavins. He walked over and congratulated the young angler on her catch as they weighed the fish and took photographs. The family has since submitted an application and line samples to the IGFA for record consideration. The previous record for junior girls was 431 pounds, set in 2002 by Andrea George in France.

The terms of the family's charter license say the business can keep one fish a year, so they dressed the fish and delivered it to market in the United States. The parents said that money from the sale will help pay for Gavin’s braces and the iPad mini she was promised as a reward for landing the big fish.