Best of the Best Honored at World Record Achievement Awards

 

“Fishing is a soulful experience,” IGFA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Stan Nabozny told the crowd at the IGFA World Record Achievement Awards (WRAA) ceremony, presented by Hugh's Culinary. “There’s nothing like seeing a tarpon leap from the water, or an eagle fly down from the sky while you’re out on the water. I’m overwhelmed and honored to be among such passionate anglers.”

Passion was the word of the evening at this year’s WRAA. Anglers arrived at IGFA headquarters in Dania Beach, Florida, USA from as far afield as the United Kingdom, Japan, Costa Rica and New Zealand to accept their awards for the past year’s angling accomplishments. First place anglers in saltwater, freshwater and fly rod categories each received beautiful mount plaques by King Sailfish Mounts. Junior and Smallfry anglers additionally received special circle hook pendants generously donated by IGFA Representative David Wirth, who also made the gorgeous circle hook sculptures for the Lifetime Achievement winners.

Mari Kitagawa, who took second place in the female fly rod category and traveled from her home in Tokyo, thanked the captains, guides, and fishing friends who helped her achieve so many world records. Sue Tindale, who received awards for being the third place female saltwater angler and second place in female All-Tackle Length records, traveled from Auckland, New Zealand and shared her appreciation for her husband and personal captain, Scott – and the strength of his knots.

“They never break!” chuckled the woman who landed the 94.8 kg (208 lb 15 oz) All-Tackle record for sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in June of last year, along with 26 other records.

Many of the award winners joined her to share their thoughts on the important part their families have played in their fishing adventures. Phillip Richmond, the second place male saltwater angler of the year, thanked his wife for both her fishing expertise (she hosts a fishing television show in Japan) and for waiting for him during his tours with the US Navy. Dotty Ballantyne, the top female fly angler of the year, thanked her husband for the millions of leaders he’s tied and all of his help in planning for her records.

The youth winners were also very conscious of the contributions their families have made towards their catches. Christopher Hampl, accepting the male Junior angler of the year award, was eager to thank his uncle for researching the numerous records that he and his siblings have caught. Brielle Bennett, the female smallfry angler of the year, thanked her dad for taking her fishing, her uncle for captaining the boat, and her mom, “for letting me go!”

But the most touching family moment might have come as Roberta Arostegui accepted an award with her husband, Marty, as the top freshwater anglers of the year. “When my son, Martini, caught his first redfish, he turned to the home video camera that was rolling and said, ‘My mom would be so proud of me!’. I want him to know that I am so proud of him, and I know that he is so proud of me.”

Many rounds of applause and laughter were had, and at the end of the evening there was much reflection on a year of good fishing. Dotty Ballantyne’s parting comments could have spoken for all of the anglers in the room as she gave thanks “for the fish we caught – and our hats are off to those that got away!”

The IGFA World Record Achievement Awards are given to the top-achieving anglers and manufacturers during the previous year. To see the full list of highest-earning record holders, please see the IGFA World Record Game Fishes book Top Ten list on pages 122-123. Visit our Facebook gallery for more photos from this year's WRAA ceremony.