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Solo? No. Impressive? Undoubtedly.
The second heaviest kayak-caught fish to make it to a scale was a tag-team effort by brothers Kevin and Gareth Uyeda, pioneers in Hawaii’s growing scene. They still fish together, these days on a Hobie Mirage Tandem Island. In 2008, they were aboard a modest Ocean Kayak Zest tandem paddle kayak.
Typically for these stories, it is late in the day. They are a long five miles from shore. The Uyedas start in, trailing a dead opelu. The offering proves irresistible to a blue marlin.
Kevin picks up the rod, sets the hook, then passes it to his brother Gareth up on the bow. “We let it tow us, the best ride I the world,” Kevin says.
When the marlin heads out to sea, the pair deploys a drift chute to slow it, steering the big fish toward shore. “It gassed out with 900 feet of line out. Hand-lining it up was painful. Both of us cramped our hands by the time we got it up,” Kevin recalls.
The fish is too heavy for the kayak, so they wrap a PFD around it to help float it. Just like Santiago, they strap the marlin to the side of the kayak and start the long crawl home. “We didn’t want anyone to help us. We wanted to be the first to paddle out and back in (with a marlin),” Kevin says. It took them three and a half hours, long past sunset.
“There’s no such thing as too big,” says Kevin, and he means it. “Our goal is to catch the biggest fish possible.” If anyone breaks the 200-pound kayak tuna mark, it’s likely to be these guys.