Stunner: Hawaiian Kayak Angler Scores Solo 212-Pound Black Marlin
Devin Hallingstad, man of the crazy 176-pound kayak ahi, does the impossible again
By Paul Lebowitz
Story updated at 3:00 pm, April 28
The black marlin was a big one, more than 200 pounds, and it was tail-walking like crazy. 60-pound test flew off the spool, right to the final few wraps. Devin Hallingstad, a Hobie fishing team member who calls Hawaii’s Big Island home, locked down the drag, spliced on another rod and reel, and tossed the first one overboard.
"I tied on my backup rig. It almost spooled that one too," Hallingstad said. He never considered tying on a third – he doesn't have one.
“It was nuts. A mean fight,” Hallingstad said in a Facebook post. It was the second of two competition days for the Plentypupule Kayaks Pelagic Pursuit. He was out of contention, and that's when he decided to make a shallow water pass along the outside edge of a reef, a strategy that's paid off in the past.
"This thing came up and grabbed the opelu I was dragging behind my kayak. I could see by the shoulders it was big. At first, it wasn't doing anything. Then it woke up," Hallingstad said.
The fish erupted, jumping wildly across the white-capped ocean. It was a sure winner if he could land it, and a no-doubt kayak fishing record, but that would be no mean feat. Hallingstad was riding a trusted chariot, a Hobie Revolution 13, the same model he used to catch a kayak record 176-pound ahi (yellowfin tuna) in 2011. Only this time he’d left the amas at home. The Revo 13 is rated for 350 pounds – that’s all.
Hallingstad kicked his Mirage Drive towards the beach. "I didn't want the fish to drag me out to sea. They still pull you backwards," he said of the fish.
After some indeterminate time – Hallingstad said he lost track, maybe an hour – he regained his original rod, the one he’d tossed into the sea. Eventually, he reeled the marlin within range.
“I gave it a couple shots to the dome with the kage (Japanese fish spear). The fish was done,” he said. Hallingstad grabbed the bill, held onto the gaff, and pulled the big black marlin alongside. Rather than load it aboard, he'd make the long kick in to shore with the fish literally in hand.
It should be all gravy from that point, right? Not quite.
“The hardest part was getting it up the rocks. It was crazy, three guys struggling inch by inch with a roped fish. We finally got her in the truck,” he said.
At the Honokohau Harbor certified weigh station, Hallingstad’s fish scaled out at 212 pounds, the largest solo paddle out and back black marlin and a scant 12.5 pounds smaller than the heaviest ever (all species), Andy Cho’s kayak record 225.5-pound blue marlin, also caught off the Big Island.
When Hallingstad pulled up at Plentypupule Kayaks for the Pelagic Pursuit Kayak Fishing Tournament weigh-in, he caused quite a stir.
"The fish was sticking out of this huge cooler in this truck, with the head and tail hanging out. He's unbelievable," said Plentypupule owner Kelly Harrison.
Hallingstad easily captured the Pelagic Pursuit tournament offshore division (and the grand prize Hobie Quest 11 kayak). Now that he holds two of the most impressive big game kayak fishing records, he's arguably one of the sport's greats. He’s far from done setting records.
“I think I could get a big blue. Maybe twice as big as this one. I’ve been baiting live skipjack. I guess we’ll find out if it can be done,” he said.