Kayak angler endures marathon struggles with sailfish and marlin – and a hungry shark!

Jared Willeford loses an 11-hour fight with a sailfish off Kona, but goes back out and lands a blue marlin, only to have to fend off a hungry shark.

Kayakmarlin

Jared Willeford displays 158-pound blue marlin he caught off Kona. Photo: Via Jim Rizzuto

Jared Willeford has probably had enough kayak fishing for a while, having battled a sailfish for 11 hours on a recent outing, and more recently having fought a larger blue marlin for several hours, after which he had to fend off a hungry shark.

These remarkable scenes played out in the waters off Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and are described in detail by longtime Kona fishing writer Jim Rizzuto.

Willeford lost the sailfish, which towed him around from 8 a.m. until dark, after which he was left suffering from mild heat stroke and dehydration - and still had to paddle several miles back to Keauhou Bay.

But the angler was determined to score a rare kayak-billfish catch, so on Tuesday he used a strong handline attached to buoy floats to slow the marlin and keep it from sounding.

The marlin bit a live akule at about 9 a.m., and a chaotic sleigh ride ensued.

"I just hung on until one of us got too tired to continue," Willeford said. "Fortunately, the fish gave up first at around 1:30 p.m."

His catch secured to the kayak, Willeford began to paddle slowly toward shore, but soon noticed that a shark was trailing in his wake.

Writes Rizzuto: "So the game plan began to be something like this: paddle, paddle, paddle, fend off the shark, paddle, paddle, paddle, distract the shark by tossing it a piece of fish."

The shark bit part of the marlin's tail, but gave up when Willeford reached shallower, greener water.

His marlin tipped the Honokohau Marina scale at 158 pounds.

According to Rizzuto, the Hawaii state record for a blue marlin caught on a kayak is 225 pounds.

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