Witnesses and club officials have confirmed a Northland 8-year-old's feat of landing a marlin 10 times his own weight.
Hunter Scott cleaned up in the Bay of Islands Swordfish Club junior tournament last weekend - and came within 6kg of a new "small fry" world record - after landing a 250.8kg black marlin.
Hunter, who lives in Kerikeri, weighs just 25kg. In last year's tournament, then aged 7, he landed a 133kg striped marlin.
Some people, particularly on social media, have greeted Hunter's latest catch with scepticism. But past tournament organiser Graeme Heapy said he saw it all from a committee boat and would happily sign an affidavit to say it was true.
Only when the fish was on trace - the last 6m of extra-strong line - had anyone helped the boy.
Once the marlin had been gaffed Mr Heapy had swum over to help Hunter's father, Adam, and grandfather, Keith, skipper of the Odyssey, haul the fish on board - as is allowed under gamefishing rules.
Keith Scott had skippered more than 200 marlin catches on the Odyssey and his previous boat Magnum, almost all of which had been tagged and released.
"All those sceptics wouldn't have caught 200 marlin between them," Mr Heapy said.
Adam Scott said landing a big fish was not like an arm wrestle. Hunter had fought the fish from a special chair with his feet against footrests and a harness around his lower back taking the weight. The rod was also clipped into the harness so the only weight on his arms was 8kg of drag on the line.
Hunter had caught about a dozen sharks as well as last year's striped marlin so he was far from a novice, his dad said. "He knows what he's doing and he's probably got more experience than most anglers out there ... It's only people who have no idea how it works who don't believe it." As well, their boat was surrounded by dozens of other vessels and a committee boat was alongside for the last few hours of the battle.
The fish was officially deemed to be caught once it had been tagged, about half an hour into the fight, but Hunter wanted to bring it in to fulfil his goal of winning the tournament with a big marlin.
Club officials are also standing by Hunter's catch, which is a new club record - but not a world or even a New Zealand record. The current world record for Hunter's age and line class is 256.27kg while the current New Zealand record is 315.8kg. The New Zealand record is higher because its holder has not yet applied for a world record.
Hunter told the Advocate he had been fishing since he was 2 years old. By the end of his three-and-a-half-hour battle with the marlin he had felt like he was going to die, he said.
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