By Heidi Bendikson at Whakatane Beacon
Whakatāne seven-year-old Cohen Snell has been confirmed as a world record holder for the shortbill spearfish he caught off Waihau Bay in January.
The 20.4kg fish caught on a 24kg line has been verified by the International Game Fish Association as a world record for age and line class.
Although Cohen's parents are yet to receive the formal certificate, they became aware of the record's verification after looking it up on the International Game Fish Association website a few weeks ago and understood the certificate is on its way.
Cohen's mother, Kelly Snell, said it was a big process to get the world record verified but she was pleased to see the catch recognised.
"It's a big fish for a small child."
She said that she and Cohen's father were keen on fishing and Cohen had clearly inherited their enthusiasm for the sport.
"He's just happy and in his element, fishing."
Cohen's father, Ben Snell, said they needed to confirm the validity of the catch by gathering line samples, photos and getting the hook rig certified.
They also had to confirm Cohen had not had any help bringing in the fish, which Ben said came down to honesty, but was something they had always been conscious of.
"With any fish he has had help with, he hasn't had the glory of saying it is his fish."
Ben said he had spent plenty of time working with Cohen on hauling in his own fish.
He added that the catch was a real local affair, having been caught from a Surtees 5.5 boat using a locally made Azure lure.
Cohen was also stoked with the verification.
"I was so happy it was a world record."
But his real wish is to finally catch a tuna, which he has not done yet.
Alan Keys, owner of Hunting and Fishing Whakatāne, has known the Snell family for many years and has seen many of Cohen's extended family members gain junior records.
"So, it was great to see the next generation come through with a world record."
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