Guitarfish

Dean Reddy poses with 196-pound giant guitarfish; photo courtesy of Reddy

Dean Reddy recently reeled in a giant guitarfish estimated to weigh 89 kilograms, or 196 pounds, while fishing from shore in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.

It's a remarkable feat considering that the world record for this species, according to the International Game Fish Assn., is a 119-pound specimen caught in 1995 in Seychelles.

Guitarfish

Dean Reddy with giant guitarfish

What's even more remarkable is that Reddy, prior to his latest catch, landed a giant guitarfish estimated to weigh 124 kilograms, or 273 pounds.

Both catches shatter the world record weight even if Reddy—who uses a time-tested tape-measurement formula to attain an estimated weight before releasing his fish—was off by several pounds on his estimates.

"I'm not sure if they get bigger anywhere else in the world," said Reddy, who tags and release all of the guitarfish he catches, and is affiliated with the South Africa's Oceanographic Research Institute.

The angler, who says the 273-pound giant guitarfish is recognized as the South African record, said he had never considered applying for an IGFA world record.

“But it does smash the world record by miles,” he said of his latest catch.

Giant guitarfish sort of resemble sharks, but are members of the ray family. They range throughout the tropical Western Indian Ocean, from the Red Sea to South Africa, and are typically found in inshore waters or estuaries, where they feed on crabs, squid, and small fish.

They’re listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, so it’s admirable that Reddy tags and releases those that he catches.

Dean Reddy

Dean Reddy poses with 273-pound giant guitarfish caught a few years ago off South Africa; photo courtesy of Dean Reddy

He used a whole mackerel to bait the 196-pound guitarfish, which stripped off more than 2,000 feet of line during a two-hour battle on 50-pound-test braided line.

"They are pound-for-pound one of the strongest-fighting flat fish," he said. "Great fun to target, but hard work."

As for the world record, Reddy seemed to take an interest in learning more about how to apply. "I did have a witness, and I'm pretty certain our organization’s rules are similar to the IGFA's," he said.

But since the IGFA requires that a fish be weighed on a certified scale to qualify for the prestigious "all-tackle" category, Reddy most likely will have to wait until he catches another potential qualifier.

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