Heavy Mettle: The Greatest Kayak Catches

To make it to a scale.

By: Paul Lebowitz

Incredible. Amazing. Stupendous. Crazy. The stories behind the world’s top three documented solo kayak fishing catches beat anything in Hemmingway’s famous man versus fish epic The Old Man and the Sea.

Old Santiago had a skiff, a bona fide boat, however small. Our true-life protagonists faced their piscatorial adversaries from glorified scraps of floating plastic. There’s scarcely room for an angler and gear aboard these tiny human-powered craft. Landing a monster in such close quarters is a knife fight in a photo booth.

Before we get to the good stuff, this note. With no worldwide organization to sanction record kayak fishing catches, the big-fish frontier is a wild west of rumor carried on the salt wind, celebrated by grassroots word of mouth and Internet dispatches. There are other kayak catches in this class, but lacking a trip to a certified scale, any objective ranking is forever out of reach.

Yellowfin Tuna. Photo credit: Devin Hallingstad

This Fish is so Big It might Sink Me

“I had to stand and lean over the side to pull it in the ‘yak. All that weight made the kayak extremely tipsy. A couple times I almost went in. The nose of the kayak was out of the water, and the back and amas were submerged.”

Halibut on boat. Photo credit: Howard McKim

Of Angry Fish and Chips

“The fish felt like it was way too big to get in a kayak, and after awhile I decided I just wanted to see what I was fighting. So I kept fighting. The strong currents had pulled me way too far out for comfort in a notoriously rough and unpredictable area.”

Big marlin by kayak. Photo credit: Andy Cho

F.B.I. Gets His Marlin

It is August 30. For the first time, Cho trails in the Makahiki race. He won’t for long. At 7:30 am, his live opelu takes a crushing hit. “It started taking off and I thought, “Ho, what is this?” he says.

Showing off the marlin. Photo credit: Kevin Uyeda

Brotherly Tandem Tackles Blue Marlin

“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.

Big salmon shark. Photo credit: Allen Sansano

Shark! The Heaviest Catch Ever

What constitutes an unassisted catch? For Howard McKim, man of the solo 183-pound Pacific halibut, the answer is cut and dried. Can you hook, fight and land a fish on your own, retrieving the hook without help? If the answer is yes, count it.

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Add a Comment

  • solomon

    come to Ethiopia, Gambella Regional State, Baro River one of tributary of Nile river and you can weigh and measure the length of fish in this river.

  • Rick (harddollar) Sturgill

    One day i hope to catch and land one somewhat that large what
    a proud day i would have.

    • Michael P Dixon

      Destin Fl, fishing capital of the world!!

      • Keith Johnson

        Mobile, Al ….Fishing capital of the world

        • Michael P Dixon

          Mobile is a sewer dump!! Have you not gone outside in last couple yrs??

  • kabe

    Now y’all have got your “bait-fish” come on down to New Zealand for some reel(lol) fishin”

  • http://www.facebook.com/sd1961lovesJesus Steven Doherty

    When i was in the Navy , our ship had a Gate on the back the would drop not even 1-2 feet above the wayter and while we were at our home port the back was down quite a bit so on duty days , I would go to the back and do all kinds of fishing in the San Diego bay, there were all kinds of makerell, smelt, . One day my friend and I filled a 30 gallon trash can with smelt tha6t we had caught all day lol , the cooks were most pleased to get thosae and make them for their families. I caught a 4 ‘ sand shark , and a buddy of mine caught a 5′ shovel nose shark , it took him 3 hours to land that one , He held on to that one through colors( lowering the US frlag and was even saluting it ) while bringing this guy in . But my best was when we went for a trip to Mazatlan Mexico and i was fishing when I noticed this huge , I mean massive black object right where my line had been dropped . as it rose to the surface it became clearer what it was, it was a Manta ray , on the same ship wer were go out to do manuvers and fire the ships guns for target practice and a Gray whale cut in front of us and we accidently split it in half , it was a really big mess but I would be willing to bet that green peace wold not attempt to shoot anything at us , It was an unfortunate thing , but they wouldve tried to say we were aiming for it lol. Happy fishing all :)

  • daffyandy

    Heck I caught a small-mouth bass here in TN. (I always catch and release) that the picture weight 50 lbs.

  • Cub

    Alaska, Halibut caught estimated over 600 Lbs, record pole caught 523. (well atleast that I know of in Southeast, its a big state)

    • PDW

      Went out fishing off the Homer Spit early morning with a group of about 6. We flew in the night before from Anchorage! I got my hook in first because I knew I had 15 to 20 minutes before I was seasick! Raining, 6 foot swells and the boat was bobbing around like it was a row boat. I got all excited when I saw this huge white belly start to rise up from the bottom, everyone was around and yelling for me, it wasWally Walrus, he was fishing too, our bait! He was so funny so we had to feed him! They called us in to shore because of the weather, rain and wind but no Halibut! Best time I eve had!

  • connie spires

    well shoot. I caught a 1400 kilo loch ness monster out here in phoenix arizona in tempe town lake at about 800 feet down. took me 8 weeks to reel that puppy in. and I practiced catch and release. would submit the photo but dont want a bunch of people to fish my honey hole.

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