This Fish is so Big It Might Sink Me

Nabbing the 176-pound yellowfin tuna in Hawaii, July 2011

Greatest Kayak Catches   Of Angry Fish and Chips


Yellowfin Tuna. Photo credit: Devin Hallingstad

It’s late in a July day, almost time to head in. Hawaii-born Devin Hallingstad is alone a mile off the beach, Kona-side, fishing comfortably from his pedal-powered Hobie Mirage Revolution. As kayaks go it isn’t large, just 13 feet long and 28 inches wide. It’s rated to carry 350 pounds, but Hallingstad has added amas (outriggers) to bump up the capacity.

His trial begins unremarkably. A fish grabs the live opelu Hallingstad is baiting, scarcely pulling line. Five minutes in, the tenor changes. “The fish woke up. Drug me around the bay and pretty far out to sea,” Hallingstad says in his typical understated tone.

He hangs on, scarcely gaining line that first hour. And then, dead weight. “I had to crank it up inch by inch. It was tougher work than any other fish I’ve caught,” he says. Eventually nearly 200 pounds of tuna breaks the surface, tail-wrapped. The struggle is only beginning.

“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,” he says.

Hallingstad slowly makes his way to the beach, sinking ever lower in the water. “I thought about dumping the fish (off) but I had no floats,” he says. The only choice is to carry on. At twilight, when he finally reaches shore, the kayak hull is nearly full of bloody water.

A day later, the fish pegs the scale at 176.5 pounds, to date the third heaviest solo kayak catch. “It was pretty amazing, the greatest feeling ever. I don’t really go out for records, but nowadays I kind of like it,” he says.

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  • James Page

    Wow! That’s amazing.He’s probably lucky he didn’t attract a big shark with the way he said the kayak was nearly full of bloody water by the time he got back to shore.

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