Catching a big fish is always a thrill, but when your vessel is a kayak, it adds a certain dimension of excitement and danger. One can only imagine the thoughts running through Ballard resident Brad Hole’s head when he pulled a 4.5-foot halibut on board his 14-foot kayak while on a recent fishing trip in Neah Bay.
On May 9, Hole was out with three friends off of Hobuck Beach. He wasn’t out long before seeing the big “flatty,” as he calls it, from his kayak. “After about 15 minutes, the near 5-foot-long flatty lay within three feet of the bottom of my kayak,” Hole said, telling his story to Northwest Sporstman.
Here is Hole’s story (from Northwest Sportsman):
I had my hand-made harpoon attached with a rope to a crab float and a canoe cushion. I had role-played this scenario in my head a hundred times, never thinking I would get to this moment. I knew I had one shot at this fish and it needed to count. I held the fish there for a good five minutes, slowly moving it into the best position I could. I drew back the harpoon and gave it a blow just below the head.
The water exploded like someone canon balled next to my kayak. My drag screamed and the fish peeled a couple hundred yards of line out into deeper water. I looked out and saw my floating harpoon, crab float and canoe cushion floating out of reach. I yelled to one of my buddies to grab my harpoon as I chased the fish down. I was able to reel in the slack and rise the fish from a greater depth. My buddy paddled over, delivering the harpoon back to me.
After a few minutes of positioning and adrenaline rushing I went for a second attempt to harpoon the fish. Again, the water thrashed, the buoy and cushion pulled under water and this one stuck. After things settled down a bit I was able to gaff the fish and bring it on to my lap as my buddy tied down and secured the tail.
We tied the fish to the back of the PA and secured him under the bungees behind me. The next hour the fish beat it’s tail against the PA. The final measurement was 54.75″ (estimated to be 80 lb) .The fish of a lifetime.
Hole (second from left) and his fishing partners
Hole and his fishing buddies all landed big flatties that day, although Hole’s big fish could be the largest halibut caught from a small vessel the lower 48, according to Northwest Sportsman. Hole is originally from Virginia, but has been in Seattle since 1994. And, he’s quite the fisherman; he’s currently in second place in the Northwest Kayak Anglers’ Angler Of The Year contest.
Photos courtesy Brad Hole