I like to troll lures from my 6m trailerboat for large marlin and tuna, either alone or with one other person. When we hook a large fish, the person at the helm initially speeds up to ensure a solid hook-up, while the person in the cockpit retrieves the other lines. Once all the free lines are cleared away, the angler then picks up the rod and begins fighting the fish. As we fish tournaments requiring IGFA rules, and since we hope to encounter a world record fish one day, I want to know if this technique is IGFA-legal.
It can be difficult for a small crew when a big fish is hooked-up, but the answer to your question is no – this technique is not IGFA-legal. IGFA rules specifically state that “if a rodholder is used, once the fish is hooked, the angler must remove the rod from the holder as quickly as possible”. The intent behind this rule is that the angler must fight the fish for the entire time it is hooked. When a fish is hooked and the rod remains in the rodholder, it is the boat that is bearing the strain of the fish. Because it is impossible to define a set time for the term “as quickly as possible”, the IGFA can only evaluate on a case-by-case basis. That said, clearing other lines or putting on a rod belt, etc before picking up the rod do not meet this criteria. In short, once a fish is hooked the angler needs to pick up the rod and begin fighting the fish as quickly as it is safe to do so. This is a matter of seconds, not minutes.
IGFA Rule Book: Rules Explained:
Pick It Up – NOW!
Answer supplied by: Jack Vitek
Position: IGFA World Records Coordinator
This question ran in ISSUE 105 of BlueWater magazine: SEPT / OCT 2014