A Fish Tale from the Big Island

Posted By on February 22, 2011

Saw this photo posted on a blog and tried to imagine what it must have been like to land a 7 foot sailfish from a kayak. Shawn’s account is entertaining.


Shawn Zenor and his 72.2 lb. sailfish off Hawaii’s Punaluu Beach (Black Sand Beach)

Here’s a snippet from Shawn’s post “Fighting monsters with a kayak:”

I was surprised- we were in 200 ft of water, water that I had trolled through often with no luck and assumed it was because it was without much structure, and it was right outside the bay.  But the connection was solid, and my was being spun around quickly…and then it jumped.  I think the first thing I remember seeing was the bill, and saying, “What the hell am I going to do now?”  I was thinking marlin, and that I was going to die.  Then I noticed the sail, and of course assumed sailfish, but having never seen one or ever even had the vaguest idea that I might catch one, I was only guessing.  The thing was leaping everywhere, tailwalking across the surface, and whipping that spear around like it was trying to throw it at me.  Then I calmed down.  All his thrashing was carrying him closer and closer to me with each leap, so I was reeling in slack line like mad, by the time I got everything snugged up, he was within 100 ft of me, and most of the battle probably was within 50 ft.  That was the key to it being only about a 35 minute fight- if he had run right away, it could have taken a LOT longer.  Eventually I get him close enough to leader a couple of times, and finally get a couple of kage shots into his head.  Took about four tries to finally stone him.

Took a while to get a leash on his tail and then wrap my radio/GPS leash around his bill to get him fairly tight to the kayak, and still had the kage through his head with my foot on the handle to hold him a little tighter.  It was a long hard paddle into the bay- when we landed, the lifeguard said that he had been watching and thinking he was going to have rescue some kook who was struggling to paddle a kayak that was listing severely!  All was made clear as he helped pull the boat out.  I’m so glad I caught him just outside the bay- I would hate to have to paddle another 2-3 miles with that thing.  I’m also glad he hit on the 6-0 reel on the Fenwick that Brian gave me, because none of my other poles would have been up to the task (thanks Brian!).

We were both were guessing he was over 100lbs, because they are shaped like an ono; but they are deceptively thin.  They aren’t thick like an ono.  He was over 7? from fork to tip of bill.  They are a very strange fish to clean too- was hard to keep the knife along the spine, and just the shear size of the fish is difficult to deal with too.  I’ll be digging a hell of a hole in the garden tomorrow to bury the remains.



Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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