What angler hasn’t daydreamed about catching a record fish while waiting for the next bite? For many fishermen, the dream of a record catch is part of an unlikely fantasy that’s akin to winning the lottery. Other anglers entertain the notion of landing a record fish as a challenge to be pursued by first studying the official catch listings to identify potentially vulnerable records, then setting out on a quest to add their name to the rolls of gloriously successful anglers. No matter which category we fall into, the International Game Fish Association feeds our fantasies by publishing the quarterly “International Angler” magazine and the annual “IGFA World Record Gamefishes” book.
For 75 years, the IGFA has been the semi- official keeper of world records for catches of saltwater fish from all around planet, and since 1978, IGFA has also been keeper of the records for freshwater fish, a task that IGFA took over from Field and Stream magazine. Aside from keeping track of records, IGFA is charged with deciding what constitutes the sporting capture of a fish. We’d probably all agree that while tossing sticks of dynamite at fish might be an extremely effective way of collecting carcasses, that dynamite fishing is not a sporting technique and that dynamite-caught fish shouldn’t be allowed to stand in the record books. Likewise, fish caught in nets or traps or on longlines or other industrial gear should be prohibited. To reduce the potentially endless questions about what is or isn’t considered a sporting catch, IGFA maintains a list of “rules” that must be followed if a catch is to be considered a record. The idea is to make sure that catches are made on typical recreational fishing tackle and that the angler who is applying for the record did actually land the fish without help from anyone else.
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