The International Bluewater Spearfishing Records Committee (IBSRC) announced last week that the record for largest blue marlin caught by spear now belongs to 53-year-old Wendell Ko of Kapolei. According to the IBSRC, the fish was weighed at 506 pounds when it was caught last November. At more than 227 pounds heavier than the previous world record, Ko’s fish is now considered the largest fish ever caught by speargun.
It must be noted that another record-keeping organization, the International Underwater Spearfishing Association, holds two records for blue marlin heavier than Ko’s, but IBSRC operates under different rules and recognizes different records.
“I’ve often wondered what it would be like to come face-to-face with a beastly marlin in the ocean, a competing predator with a spear of its own more primitive than mine,” Ko wrote to the IBSRC.
The veteran spearfisherman got his wish on November 20 nearly two miles of Miloli’i on the Big Island’s Kona Coast. Ko said the mammoth fish appeared suddenly and aggressively while his speargun was unloaded.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything that big in the water, a marlin in particular,” Ko told KITV.
Ko’s personal best before the marlin encounter was a 188-pound tuna in 2012. At more than 500 pounds, the marlin was a different beast entirely, and much more dangerous. Ko described his short, frenzied battle with the fish more like a sword fight than a struggle between predator and prey. It took three shots from his four-band speargun to subdue the marlin; one to stop it in its tracks and two more to end the fight.
“It took four of us to finally heave the fish aboard,” Ko wrote. “It was then that we all got a good look at its size, each of us estimating its weight. On our way back to the harbor, I reflected on the whole event, and realized how privileged and honored we all are to have engaged in a rich experience that will forever be ingrained in our minds.”
Although Ko said the fight was not as he imagined it would be, he is grateful for the opportunity and awed by the experience. The fisherman was accompanied on his trip by fishing companion Kyle Nakamoto, producer of the TV series Hawaii Skin Diver and president of Red Sea Ocean Adventures. Nakamoto was able to capture the battle on video, which will be aired on an upcoming episode of his show.
The fish was later measured to be 114 inches from its lower jaw to the tail’s fork. Ko donated the marlin to the people of Kona to be smoked. The previous IBSRC record belonged to a 278.5-pound marlin caught by Calvin Lai Jr. in 2005, also from Hawaii.
You can see a video of Ko’s catch below:
Image courtesy Kyle Nakamoto