Sara Haywood didn’t expect anything earth shattering to happen on her family vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during the summer of 2005. All she wanted was to have some fun in the sun. When all was said and done, the 15-year old sophomore ended up having her fun and leaving with a world record and story she’ll never stop telling.
Sara and her father, Tim, went out for a morning of deep sea fishing on the Sea of Cortez on the Pez Espada. Gerardo “Gerry” Martinez had been fishing the waters since he was 18-years-old and knew the perfect spot.
“Trust me,” Martinez told the Haywards. “I am 67-years old and I have been fishing these waters since I was 18-years old. I know where to take you.”
The Haywards connected with several fish, including yellowfin tuna and a blue marlin that got away. Right before noon, the reel next to Sara started screaming, so she grabbed it. What happened next is a hard-fought battle she won’t forget.
“The fish just took off and the reel started screaming,” Sara said. “I jumped in the fighting chair and the deck hand reeled in the rest of the lines to get them out of the way.”
The next 45 minutes were difficult, but Sara was’t going to quit, she just hoped the 50-pound test line would last.
“When we got it up beside the boat is when we saw how big it was – it was huge!” Sara said. “The deck hand [Marcos Gonzalez] yelled for Gerry to come help. He said it was the biggest wahoo he had ever seen. They gaffed it and it took all four of us to get it into the boat.”
After a few quick photos, her dad wanted to release it, but Captain Gerry had other ideas.
“Gerry told us ‘no way.’ He said that was the biggest wahoo he had ever seen,” Hayward said. “He said we needed to take it in and have it weighed – that it was a possible new world record.”
Martinez wasted no time in spreading the word about the giant wahoo they had just landed.
“He was talking to all kinds of people on the radio and just jabbering away about it,” she said. “He told them he was bringing in the biggest wahoo anybody had ever seen. He was pretty excited.”
The boat arrived to a crowd of locals who had gathered, hoping to get a piece of this massive wahoo for themselves.
The fish initially came in at 8-foot-4, weighing 192 pounds. The fish weighed a bit lighter on the certified scales and came in at 184 pounds – that’s over 25 pounds heavier than the IFGA all-tackle world record (158 pounds, 8 ounces) at the time.
“I still can’t believe it,” Sara said. “I felt terrible at first, because there are guys down there who are pros at this. They have all the high-tech equipment and spend all kinds of time trying to catch big fish and then I go out there and catch a world record.”