"Thankfully I got my arm up to push him away," Brian Nelli says of the sailfish that skied inches from his kayak.

“Thankfully I got my arm up to push him away,” Brian Nelli says of the sailfish that skied inches from his kayak. YouTube frame capture.

Close Call: Kayak Angler Dodges Sailfish Spear
By Mike Stevens

Much of the allure of kayak fishing is rooted in proximity. Proximity to the water we are fishing, otherwise unreachable cover and locations and ultimately, proximity to the fish we are hunting.

Most of the time, being THAT close to the quarry and its habitat greatly enhances the fishing experience, but a whole new can of worms is cracked open when you are within an arms reach of the fastest-swimming fish in the sea which happens to be equipped with a built-in spear and spiny sail.

When Brian Nelli of Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters hooked this sailfish off of Palm Beach, Florida, what followed was a standard light-tackle tug of war that any big-game 'yak angler is familiar with, but the battle took a turn for the dramatic as Nelli was closing the deal. With a thrust of its tail, the sailfish launched out of the water within inches of Nelli who had to evade several swipes of its bill and sail as the fish actually made contact with his boat as it fell back into the water.

Close calls don’t get any closer. Jump to 1:45 to get right to the mayhem.

Nelli said the fight to get the fish to color was a strange one – the sail didn’t jump. It wasn’t until he was about to land it that the fish went off. “When he got ‘yak side I felt him about to jump so you can see me sticking my rod out to get him away from the ‘yak, but it didn’t work. Thankfully I got arm up to push him away,” Nelli said.

After several more runs, Nelli eventually had the fish in his lap before a couple quick photos and a successful release.

RELATED: Sailfish Skies Inches from Kayak

“First time I had that happen. They usually wear themselves out before they get near the ‘yak. The only thing I regret is not having my camera on. It would have been right in his face,” Nelli added.

Sailfish are found in warm-water areas all over the world, and have been clocked at almost 70 miles per hour, which is as fast as a cheetah can run on land.