A bucket-list fishing trip to the Maldives in March produced a pending IGFA All-Tackle World Record for Tristan Terorotua of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Terorotua was slow-pitch jigging off Addu Atoll in the Indian Ocean on March 15 when he hooked into a 31-pound black snoek—his first fish of the outing.
Terorotua was targeting ruby snapper when he caught the black snoek. The snapper was one of the several species on his hit list for the nine-day trip but the snoek was a complete surprise. “I knew nothing about them,” Terorotua says of the toothy, deep-water fish. “I’d heard of black snoek, and I knew the Indian Ocean is where people catch them mostly, but it was not something I was expecting to see.”
Terorotua, several other anglers, and their guide, Abdullah Anif of Addu Sport Fishing Maldives, were fishing within sight of the boat dock at about 7:30 p.m. when Terorotua dropped a light jig in 300 meters of water. It took about 90 seconds for the tackle to hit bottom, then Terorotua began to apply the slow-pitch technique—basically raising the rod tip to lift the lure off the bottom, then slowly cranking the reel to slow the jig’s descent through the water. The technique tries to mimic a wounded baitfish to trigger strikes from bottom fish. Thirty seconds later, the black snoek struck.
“I didn’t think I had a fish on because it just felt like dead weight,” Terorotua says. “I thought I might have fouled my jig. It was like that for a lot of the fight, but the fish must have finally realized it was hooked because then it made a nice little run. Nothing fast, just slow and steady.”
At that point, Terorotua thought he might have hooked a shark. It took about 25 minutes to work the fish to the surface. “Finally we saw it, and everybody on the boat went crazy,” he says. “Immediately the guide knew it was a big fish that could be a potential record.”
Terorotua says they fished for another hour or so, but he used a different rig, not wanting to risk losing the tackle he’d caught the snoek on since he knew he’d have to submit it as part of the IGFA certification process. When the group returned to the dock, “the whole town had shown up to see this fish,” according to Terorotua. “I’m sure the captain was calling people and saying it was a big fish, so there were a ton of people waiting at the dock.”
Anif and Terorotua took measurements and weighed the fish on an uncertified scale. Afterward, Terorotua convinced the owner of the scale to let him take it back to the U.S. with him so that IGFA could certify it themselves. The fish weighed 31 pounds (14.06-kilograms) and was 68.5 inches long.
The current IGFA All-Tackle World Record black snoek is a 27-pound, 9-ounce (12.50 kilogram) fish caught at Tokunoshima, Japan, in December 2017 by Masaaki Bandoh. Terorotua’s world record application has been submitted to the IGFA and is currently pending. IGFA officials say the line still needs to be tested and the record application needs to go through the full review process.
The Pending World Record Was Just One Highlight of an Epic Fishing Trip
A pro staff field tester for Temple Reef, Terorotua specializes in jig fishing and says the Maldives has long been a dream destination because the area’s many atolls create a lot of steep drop-offs that are perfect for jigging. “You can move 10 feet and go from 50 meters deep to 100 meters just like that,” he says. “It drops off crazy. We were two miles from the dock and were already in 300 meters of water.”
Read Next: Texas Angler Catches Massive 60-Pound Smallmouth Buffalo
The trip didn’t disappoint. While testing the new Inline rod series for Spathe Rods, Terorotua spent nine days fishing “all day every day,” catching dogtooth tuna, giant trevally, coronation trout, and multiple species of grouper. “If you’re into catching different species, the Maldives is the place to go,” he says. “I caught more species of grouper than I even knew existed. Same with snapper. Everything that came up was colorful, and it’s stuff you can’t catch back home in Florida.”
Ironically, the ruby snapper he was targeting when he hooked the black snoek was the one species on his bucket list that he didn’t catch during the trip. But he’s ok with that. After all, a pending world record makes a nice consolation prize. “I’m extremely stoked, not only for me but for the jigging community,” he says. “To potentially be put in a history book like that is awesome. I can’t even fathom it.”