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Twelve year-old sets new world record in Port Fairy tuna haul

By Jess Densley

Tait Missen is preparing to be the face of World Tuna Day on Wednesday, after hauling a new world record catch.

The twelve-year-old will stake his name in angling history after reeling in a 143.4 kg tuna off Port Fairy’s coast on Sunday.

Pending official line testing by the International Game Fish Association, Tait is expected to be named the new World Under 16 champion.

The Koo Wee Rup Secondary College student was fishing with his dad Tam Missen about 15 miles off the coast when he hooked the massive fish.

“We went through a couple of schools of stuff after we went out early on Sunday morning,” he said.

“We went out about 6.30 and we were planning to get a catch of small tuna.

A turn of fate meant plans changed for Tait and his dad at about 10am.

“My mate got sick so we had to drop him back at shore and then we headed back out to fish for bigger tuna.”

Tait said friends in a nearby boat then warned tuna was aplenty in the area.

“Eventually we saw some birds on the water and we hooked up a rod. Dad slowed down the boat and told me to grab another rod so we had two in the water at the same time.

“We had skirts on the top of the water and the tuna were hitting them,” he said. “That’s how we knew there were some big ones there.”

After both rods appeared to have hooked a catch, Tait said it was instinct that made him choose the largest fish to fight.

“Dad told me to grab a rod and I grabbed the heaviest one,” he said.

What followed was a battle that lasted two-and-a-half hours.

“I had my grimble, put my rod in it with a harness and I just kept winding,” the Year 7 boy said.

“I’ve never reeled in a big tuna before.”

Having fished since he was barely five years old Tait said after hooking the record salt-water fish he was confident he could finish it off.

“You don’t tend to lose it half way through through the fight,” he said. “So I was pretty confident I had him.”

And despite beating his dad’s previously held record he said the pair remain on good terms.

“Dad caught his first big 105 kg tuna two years ago,” Tait said. “And I’ve beaten that but yes he’s happy for me.”

Tait said although his nine year-old sister Summer wasn’t keen to fill the fridge with his catch, his record reel would be served up at future mealtimes.

“We don’t eat much fish but we’ll eat this one I think.”

Warrnambool Offshore and Lightgame Fishing Club secretary Ashley Dance said the catch was great for the region.

“He’s a very lucky young man and it’s just pure luck this happened on the eve of World Tuna Day.

“I’m sure it’ll be mentioned in fishing circles and that’s great for the area too.”

Mr Dance said he was called to the gantry for an impromptu weigh on Sunday afternoon.

“I got a call about 2.30pm,” he said. “It was Tam asking can I come down and weigh this please.

“Tait’s a very lucky young man. Him and his dad fish very hard and he earn’t that fish.

“Previously the biggest tuna weighed in Warrnambool was 141.61 kg. That was caught by David Cassidy in 2010.”

Mr Dance said Tait’s catch joins a list of notable catches in the area.

“We had a 138kg earlier in the day and a 114 the day prior so yes, I’d say there’s a few about at the moment.”


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