After more than an hour fighting a halibut larger—and probably older—than he was, Swedish angler Erik Axner jumped into the freezing waters off Norway’s Loften Islands to release his catch. The 24-year-old hooked the massive fish during a recent trip to northern Norway and called it the catch of a lifetime.
“It was a dream fish—almost two meters long and incredibly well fed, thick and wide,” he told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
The angler compared the fight to Hemingway’s classic novel, The Old Man and the Sea, in which an elderly fisherman fights a massive marlin for several days. This battle did not nearly last as long, but Axner said the fight was still of titanic proportions.
“The fish was so powerful that it took me an hour to get the better of it,” he told The Mirror. “By the time I got the fish to the boat my arms were aching and my back was pretty tired as well.”
Also tired were his two fishing companions, Jonathan Jansson and Martin Bamberg. When the time came to release the halibut, Axner decided to use his last bit of strength to jump into the water alongside it. There, he measured the fish and took a few photographs before releasing the largest halibut of his career. According to his pro staff profile at Westin, his previous best was a six-foot, two-inch fish, although halibut over 200 pounds have been regularly caught on his boat.
You can see a video of the catch below:
“Being in the water with a fish that size is a powerful experience—it gives you a whole new level of respect for the fish,” he said after the catch.
His halibut may be big, but it is far from the world record. According to the International Game Fish Association, the record for Atlantic halibut belongs to a 418-pound, 13-ounce fish caught by Thomas Nielsen in 2004 also near Norway.