Successful Season 2016

We have ended the gamefishing charter season and Gladiator will be returning to Auckland next week.  Overall a very successful season with over 50 striped marlin tagged and released to IGFA rules, this count does not include any marlin just released without tagging.  We also had numerous blue marlin caught and our first black marlin.  This year saw many yellowfin in the area and we caught our fair share of them, some of them estimated at the 70kg mark.

Of all the marlin caught this season the majority were released in very good condition with only 4 being weighed for guests.

Gladiator victorious again in the NZ National Tournament

Gladiator competed in the NZ National Fishing Tournament late February 2016 fishing at the Three Kings. This was another excellent years results for owner Donna Pascoe and skipper Ken Pascoe. Our tally for the trip, 14 striped Marlin, 1 Black Marlin, 3 large yellowfin tuna and 4 sharks. All tagged and released.
Results confirmed show Donna was the top striped Marlin angler, 1st tag and release champion billfish angler, 1st tag and release Blue/Black Marlin, 2nd in tag and release tuna, 3rd in tag and release shark, 1st in 60kg line weight and 2nd team overall.
There were just under 1,700 anglers in this 8 day tournament this year.
This excellent result was greatly assisted by our 2 full time experienced crew, Brad Bennetto and Matt Barchet who without their help these results would not have been possible.

Southern Bluefin Tuna World Record

In August 2015 Ken and Donna and the crew on Gladiator once again caught a world record.  Below is Donna’s story of the catch.


On Sunday afternoon we headed out in Gladiator to run the new engines that we had put in the previous week.  Of course no use going round and round in circles running them in so it was a good excuse to go and do some winter fishing.

We had planned on fishing the Garden Patch up the top of the North Island and started heading there from Auckland.  We were about 4 hours into our trip when there was talk about the Southern Bluefin tuna off the back of Barrier.    As the area is very big and we had never previously fished that area, we were not keen to just head there without having some idea of a particular place to target.  A quick text to a commercial fisherman that we know and we had an area to try.  The commercial fisherman himself was going to head there as well.  On looking in the book we realised the 60kg lineweight for women was vacant.  We did a sharp 90 degree turn and off we headed, 60 miles out from the back of Great Barrier Island.

We arrived in the area about 5.30am and saw a boat on the radar.  Going over to it there was no sign of life onboard so all must have been sleeping.  Off we went trolling with two 60kg lines in the water.  I was not keen to have any other line weight in the water as I would have been disappointed if we had caught a tuna and it was not on 60kg.

At about 6.45 I saw a pod of whales in the water so we decided to head over to them and see what was going on.   Five minutes later we hooked up.  I ran to grab the rod and jumped into the chair and strapped myself in.  I had memories of 4 hours on a 411kg pacific bluefin tuna and the fight I had so was prepared for another battle.  Amazingly the fish appeared very light and didn’t really fight.  Based on this we thought it may have been an albacore.  I had the fish alongside the boat in a very short time and we were able to see that it was in fact a reasonable size bluefin tuna.  11 Minutes in total for this fight.

Once onboard we started to identify the tuna and became very confident it was a southern bluefin tuna.

We called Far North Radio on our satphone and asked Annette to make arrangements at the nearest club that would have a weighmaster capable and prepared to weigh a pending world record.  This station was at Whitianga, 80 miles from where we were and slightly south.  On arrival at the weighstation word had got around and there were over 100 people standing on the wharf waiting to see the tuna being weighed in.  I felt like royalty with all the camera flashes, very humbling to be greeted by so many people.  The tuna weighed 80kg.

We were advised that even though Whitianga is considered the tuna capital of New Zealand, this was the first ever Southern Bluefin tuna they had ever weighed.

In February 2016 the tuna was ratified by the IGFA as the women’s 60kg world record.

World Record Pacific Bluefin Tuna

In 2014 during the National tournament Donna and the crew on Gladiator caught a 411.6kg Pacific Bluefin Tuna, here is Donna’s Story.

We were fishing in the National Tournament and had travelled to the Three Kings on Gladiator.    There were about 20 boats fishing at the Kings while we were there in the first few days of the tournament but due to the weather not being very good and winds up to 35 knots, all but 3 other boats had headed back to North Cape to continue fishing.

On 19 February we had arrived on the King Bank after spending the night sheltering against the cliffs of the islands and we were trolling around for marlin to tag.  The weather was a bit misty and the wind was quite strong.  At 9.10am one of the rods started screaming so I shot out into the cockpit, grabbed the rod out of the holder and jumped in the chair, or rather staggered into the chair as it was pretty rough.  The line was peeling out like it was attached to a freight train.  As usual I was pretty nervous that I might get spooled as the line was 60kg on an 80W reel so there wasn’t a lot of line on it.  Thankfully the fish stopped running and I was able to get a bit of line back in.  From then on it was a game of the fish taking line and me getting it back.

The wind had got up to gusts of 36 knots while I was playing the fish and I was getting drenched from the waves coming over the back of the boat.  The waves were so big at times even Scott, the skipper up on the flybridge got wet.

Scott kept telling me it was a stubborn fish but I informed him that I was also extremely stubborn and I was going to win this one.    About 3 hours into the fight and still wondering what was on the line, I finally got it to the surface and at the boat when Scott yelled out from the flybridge, ‘tuna, world record’.  Paddy grabbed the leader and Ken got the tag pole.  We had originally planned to just tag all our fish.    The tag went in and Scott realising the size called out to gaff the fish.  The fish obviously heard this and disagreed with the decision.  It decided I hadn’t had enough of a workout and was making another run.  Paddy let go of the leader and I settled down again for more of a battle.

Finally after over an hour more I had the fish at the boat again and this time thankfully all went well as  I was pretty spent after over 4 hours of trying to fight the fish and the elements.  Scott said it all in his comment when the fish was at the back of the boat  “I’m amazed you lifted that girl, absolutely gobsmacked”

Trying to boat the fish was interesting.  The four men of the crew all had hold of the tail and the rope around the tail and could not bring the fish onboard.  Finally after a lot of discussion it was decided to run a rope along the side of the boat and up to the anchor winch.  The winch is rated for 1500kg but even so it really struggled with only moving an inch at a time.  Finally after a little under 40 minutes with the help of the anchor and the crew pulling, the tuna slid onboard amid lot’s of yelling and screams of delight.

After over 4 hours of being on this fish and at my age (56yrs) I naively thought my day was done but Scott had other ideas and said we were going to continue fishing  for another 8 hours and would then make our way back through the night to take the fish to shore to weigh.  And I thought my husband was a hard taskmaster.

The 10 hour trip through the night back to the weigh station was rough.  No one was able to get any sleep while trying to stop being thrown out of the bunk.

Arriving back to shore at the Houhora weigh station at 6am we were thrilled to see a big contingent from the Houhora Big Game & Sportsfishing Club who had all come down to the weigh station so early in the morning to see us come in.  Coming from Auckland, it made us feel proud to be members of such a tightknit club who support all their members.

My tuna was lifted from the back of the boat and and attached to the scales.  The tail was then lifted off the ground.  The scales read 250kg with just the tail lifted so I was hoping it would make it to 300kg.  The rest of the fish was lifted up and when it was off the ground we all looked closely at the scales.  411.6kg.  Our eyes popped out of our heads and it is still trying to sink in that I beat the 2013 women’s world 60kg record by 188 kg as well as the all tackle 2013 record by 76kg.  It was also confirmed as the biggest fish on record ever caught by a lady angler in NZ. Certainly my ‘fish of a lifetime’.

This tuna is the heaviest fish ever caught by a lady in New Zealand and received two world records, the women’s 60kg lineweight and the All Tackle world record.  Donna was also awarded the Best World Record for 2014 at the International Game Fishing Association at the awards evening in Florida, USA in April 2015.