Nicholas Fano, 12, of Palm City, Florida is part of a family that loves fishing. Whether they are trolling blue water for sailfish and mahi mahi or plug-casting the shallows for trout and redfish, the Fano clan has produced many memories on the waters of South Florida.
However, one recent catch by the Hidden Oaks Middle School seventh grader stands out above the rest. That's because a jack crevalle Fano caught Oct. 30 was awarded not one, but two, fishing world records recognized by the International Game Fish Association.
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Fano and friend Brady Hyre, 13, decided to fish on a lazy, warm Saturday afternoon in late October. They went to the small dock across the street from Fano's house on Bessey Creek in Palm City and cast-netted a handful of small mullet.
Fano said it had been slow earlier that morning when he was fishing, so he didn't really have any expectations whatsoever.
"I just threw a bait out to see what would happen. When the fish hit, it started taking out the line, but slowly at first," Fano explained. Soon, it became apparent, he was hooked into something really big.
Fano's older brother, Anthony, 16, was sitting on the porch and realized Nicholas was going to need some help. He went to neighbor Kevin Ganley's house to borrow a landing net large enough to help land whatever it was his brother was battling.
Fano, who is a seasoned angler despite his young age, knew two things as the battle wore on:
The big fish was the largest jack crevalle anyone in his family had ever seen
He was connected to it with line and tackle that was woefully undersized for the fight ahead.
"Big jacks have a head shaped like a plate, and I had light tackle, so I knew I couldn’t horse it in, or the line would just pop," Fano explained. He said about 30 minutes into the long fight, he could tell the fish was growing as tired as he was.
"I knew I couldn't get anybody to help me handle the rod, though, or else it wouldn't count as my fish," Fano said. His dad, Dennis, had taught his kids that, when they were casting bits of hot dogs for bluegill in the pond at their previous home.
Because it was a Saturday, the Fanos and Hyre suddenly found themselves with another problem: boaters passing by.
Bessey Creek is only about 100 feet in width, and boaters heading out to the sandbar might have cut the line connecting Fano to his prized catch.
"We were waving to the boats to get them to realize what was going on, but they weren't understanding," Fano said. "The fish started zig-zagging back and forth in the canal, turning his head sideways to avoid being reeled in."
Finally, as the battle was coming to a close, Anthony Fano was ready with the landing net.
"I was pretty nervous, I have to admit. We see 30-pound jacks all the time, so I knew this one was huge. I didn't want to hit the line with the net and knock the fish off, or lose the fish trying to get it into the net," Anthony Fano said.
He successfully got the huge fish into the net near the shoreline. Then they brought it up to get some measurements and weigh it on their scale.
The huge jack nearly bottomed the scale at 58 pounds, 8 ounces.
Then the kids returned the big warrior back to the dark tannin-stained waters of the creek, where it swam off east toward the St. Lucie River.
The kids called their dad, Dennis, who wasn't home at the time. They had no idea how significant the fish they had just spent 40 minutes reeling in was.
"When they told me how big it was, I thought it sounded really big, but I don't know anything about records. When I called my friend, he said to me, 'That sounds like it could be a world record,' " Dennis Fano said.
When they looked it up on the IGFA website, they saw right away: Nicholas' jack was heavier than the 30-pound and 50-pound line class world records.
They set about the process of applying for it. What is required in order for a catch to be approved for a world record includes a sample of the fishing line and certification of the scale, ensuring the line breaks close to its listed strength and that the scale weighs objects accurately.
"We set up an appointment to go down to Dania Beach where the IGFA offices are. We took everything down there with us: the rod and reel, line, scale. We were pretty nervous when they were testing the scale, but it was right on the money," said Dennis Fano.
The line, however, tested out as too strong for its 30-pound class rating. That disqualified Fano's jack as a 30-pound record, but it was still larger than the 50-pound class men's world record, so it qualified for that. The catch was also recognized as a male Junior World Record, since Nicholas is in the 11-16 eligible age range.
Nicholas has already caught fish larger than his jack crevalle, such as the large sailfish for which the family has a replica mounted on the wall of their home. He, brother Anthony and younger sister Emily, 10, will no doubt spend time casting from the dock for snook, ladyfish, jacks and trout with lures like Nicholas' favorite, the topwater Zara Spook.
No matter what else they catch there — even a 40-inch snook or a 10-pound bass — they won't ever forget the day Nicholas landed the world record jack.
World record details
Catch: Jack crevalle weighing 58 pounds, 8 ounces (released)
Records: Junior world record for jack crevalle & men's 50-pound test line class world record
Where caught: Bessey Creek in Palm City
Rod & reel: Penn Spinfisher VI 4500 spinning reel mounted on a Penn Spinfisher VI 7-foot, fast action 10-17-pound rod
Line: Sufix 30-pound test braid
Hook: 2/0 circle hook
Bait: Small 3-inch finger mullet
Search world records at IGFA.org
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: 12-year-old Florida fisher sets world records catching 58-pound fish