An Exmouth charter fisherman has landed an Australian first with Monday's capture of a blue marlin weighing 1089 pounds, or 496.3 kilograms.
Peak Sportfishing Adventures' Eddy Lawler went fishing on his 36-foot Black Watch boat the Black Marlin with angler Clay Hilbert, who brought in the fish using a 60-kilogram line.
The largest blue marlin previously caught in Western Australia was 368.2 kilograms, also caught off Exmouth in 2014 by Rowan Smith.
This is the first time a "grander", the name given to a fish weighing more than 1000 pounds, of this species has been caught in Australia, though authorities will test the equipment used before confirming the record.
Lawler was "easily the best charter fisherman in Exmouth", according to Mantaray Ningaloo Resort operations manager Tristan Jahme.
Tackle World Exmouth owner Jeni Gates, who was fielding Lawler's many calls on Tuesday given his instant celebrity, said while normal practice was to tag and release, Lawler had been trying to land a blue marlin grander for a long time to prove they existed.
While it was common knowledge to locals, it was difficult to get more than anecdotal evidence because it was a herculean task to actually bring one in.
The crew had to keep the fish connected on the line, get it on the boat, bring the boat in safely, get the fish on to a trailer and to the club, and get a crane to lift it off. A team of volunteers was required to help with the weighing and then a freezer big enough had to be found.
"And then we have to not waste it," Gates said.
"We are all conservation minded here. The fish is used 100 per cent."
The fish would be examined to find out its exact age, believed to be around 15 years, and to find out more information generally about the species. A fibreglass cast of the carcass will educate visitors curious about the species, as well as generally promote the tagging work done in the recreational fishery.
Gates said Lawler had tagged and released more than 1000 billfish with the Billfish Foundation in the past four years, plus hundreds of others with New South Wales fisheries.
"A few weeks ago he got a fish he'd tagged and released 12 months ago," she said.
"A sailfish was recaptured on Exmouth gulf within the same week, by Captain Josh Bruynzeel of On Strike Charters, which had been at liberty for two years and nine days after originally being caught by Eddy Lawler and Leigh Freestone.
"It's significant to show these fish are being captured and released, that it's a sustainable fishery and they're not dying after being handled."
A big crowd of locals and tourists gathered at Exmouth Game Fishing Club to watch the weighing.
Recfishwest released a statement on Wednesday saying the fish was not just the biggest blue marlin ever weighed in Australia but the first marlin of any species over the old 1000-pound mark captured in WA.
"This is a fish that will cement Exmouth's reputation as a world-class Marlin fishery," the statement said.
"Marlin are extremely fast growing, with a fish of this size estimated to be about 15 years old. Its exact age will be determined by removing its ear bone, which contains growth rings, similar to those found on trees.
"Apart from being an excellent capture, a fish of this size is extremely important to fisheries science. This fish will provide insights into blue marlin age, growth rates, feeding behaviours and population dynamics."
The capture marks an auspicious start to the club's 2018 events season, including the 50th annual Gamex, the state's most prestigious offshore fishing tournament, in March.