July 29, 2005, Minerva Saenz, Minerva’s Baja Tackle, IGFA World Record Wahoo Catch Report:
What started out to be a very ordinary day of sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, ended in an extraordinary way for 15-year-old Sara Hayward of Nacogdoches, Texas, and her family. The Haywards were on their third trip to Cabo San Lucas and were checking out the area alongside of the marina to see about chartering a boat. They came across a small booth were a gentleman named Gerry Martinez was trying to rent his boats called the Foca and Moby Dick. Father, Tim Hayward, took the lead, spoke with Gerry for a while, liked what he heard, and said he’d be back later after consulting with the family. “Yes!” They all wanted to go fishing!
“Yes,” they would return and check out Gerry’s operation. When they got back to the small booth, Martin Garcia, the representative for “Cooperativa Arco de Cabo San Lucas,” the local sportfishing union, immediately suggested that the Haywards fish on the Pez Espada, and told them that since they got a good feeling about Gerry, he could captain the 28-foot Californian. They all agreed that sounded great and they would meet down at the dock at 6:30 a.m. the following morning, July 29, 2005. Of course things always change in the course of the night! The next morning, when Tim gently prodded his loving family to get up because it was time to go fishing, Laura, the mother, Samantha, the sister, and Patrick, the brother, were “stuck to their sheets”! “No, no, no…you go,” they responded. Only Sara seemed a little willing.
She said, “Dad, how long a day will this be?” Dad responded, “Let’s just see what happens,” and Sara said, “Okay, I’ll go with you.” They boarded the Pez Espada with Capt. Gerry at the wheel and Marcos Gonzalez as the deckhand. Gerry told them, “Trust me, I’m 67 years old and have been fishing these waters for a living since I was 18 years old. I know where to take you.” He immediately headed toward the 95 spot. This spot is approximately 10 miles southeast of the arch. They hadn’t even reached the 95 spot when they landed a few small yellowfin tunas! It was approximately 11:54 a.m. when they decided to head home and were approximately 5 miles from the arch of Cabo San Lucas. They were trolling several lures when all of a sudden the sweet sound of “hookup” rang out!
Sara immediately grabbed the Shakespeare rod with the Shimano 50 LRS and started to reel! The deckhand started moving quickly around the boat bringing in the other lines. Sara sat in the fighting chair and knew she had something much bigger than anything she had ever caught. Gerry thought it was a large yellowfin tuna at first. The fish fought and Sara was getting more exhausted and sunburnt by the minute. Dad kept encouraging her and saying, “You got him, you got him, just keep fighting!” Sara said she didn’t seem to be making any headway, but Gerry knew he was coming! The fight had lasted 45 minutes when Sara noticed that the fish swam towards the boat and under. Gerry immediately repositioned the boat to keep her in front of the fish. She looked over her shoulder and could see him right next to the boat in the water and screamed, “He’s big!” She had screamed at the same time that the deckhand and the captain were screaming.
The deckhand screamed for Gerry, “It’s the biggest wahoo I have ever seen! Come down and help me!” Gerry jumped down from the fly bridge in what seemed to be an instant, and something no 67-year-old man should try at home, and grabbed the homemade gaff they carried on board the Pez Espada. This gaff is made from a single piece of wood which is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter, 70 inches long, rough in every single spot, painted the ugliest red you ever saw, and has a 16/0 7731 Mustad hook fixed at the end. Dad was just concentrating on staying out of the way. Finally, while the deckhand had a hold of the leader trying to steady the fish, Gerry made his way toward it with the gaff. He had to reach way over the side because the fish was at least 3 feet below the surface. He got him on the first throw and then screamed for everyone to help bring him on board. They all had to hoist him and couldn’t believe their eyes. They knew that it was big, but now that it was actually in the boat with them, they were all in shock. Gerry immediately rushed to the VHF radio and started calling out that they were coming in the “the biggest wahoo anyone has ever seen!” They weren’t far from Cabo. It seemed like only minutes and they were backing down to the city scale. Gerry gave Tim his cell phone and said, “You’d better call your wife and kids and tell them to get down here.”
When Tim called Laura, they immediately headed down to the docks. There was a small crowd beginning to form but it very quickly became a big, big crowd. When Laura, Samantha and Patrick were in sight of the scale, they were shocked to see such a huge crowd of people. Meanwhile, all the boys that work the dock were telling Martin, you had better call “Minerva’s.” Martin got in touch with Minerva’s Baja Tackle, and they immediately dispatched Luis Armando Martinez with a certified scale to weigh the fish. In the few minutes before Luis arrived with the scale, the dock boys hoisted him up and weighed him on the city scale anyway. The fish weighed out at 192 pounds! Knowing that this scale is old and has not been certified in a long while, several of the men at the dock continued to remind them that they needed a certifiable weight and to wait for “Minerva’s” to arrive. Luis is a very experienced fisherman himself and said as soon as he saw the fish he knew it was bigger than the existing all-tackle IGFA world record, which is 156 pounds and holding since 1996. He said he never saw anything like it. His exact words were, “Find Minerva because this wahoo is bigger than the angler!” Sara only weighs 130 pounds! Luis enlisted the help of many of the local fishermen around there in hoisting the fish again, but this time on a certified scale. When he climbed the platform to see what the scale registered, everyone was silent when he shouted 184 pounds! Unbelievable! Everyone started congratulating Sara and she said she felt “so proud!”
Dad and mom felt the same way! Sara is 15 years old and attends Nacogdoches High School in Nacogdoches, Texas, which in itself is a feat if you can pronounce and spell it. She is a member of the high school band, plays on the high school volleyball team, and has lettered in track. Now she wanted to submit this catch for a world record to IGFA, the International Game Fish Association, so the family ran back to the hotel, showered, and headed to Minerva’s Baja Tackle. I had just arrived at the store, and having heard what had transpired in my absence, was getting the IGFA Record Application form for Sara to fill out, when the Haywards and Martin arrived. I showed them the application and everyone began to gather the requirements for the application. I want to share with all the readers that this fish “had Sara’s name on it.”
Remember the story about the homemade gaff on the Pez Espada? Well, I want to tell you that the lure was a “Mean Joe Green” rigged with the oldest set of 10/0 tandem hooks I have ever seen, barely hanging together on monofilament leader that was chafed from one end to the other and worn thin at the loop. All of this was connected to a barrel swivel which was once black and now a shiny bronze. I still don’t know how she managed to land this beast! Best wishes to Sara on her application to IGFA for that world record Wahoo! Minerva Saenz Owner/Operator of Minerva’s Baja Tackle IGFA Representative Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico