International Underwater Spearfishing Association
World Record  
61.2 kg. ,   134.8 lbs.
Halibut, Pacific    Hippoglossus stenolepis
Record Category: Men Speargun

Diver: John Dornellas
Date: 7/27/2019

Towards the end of my family trip to Alaska, I decided to reach out to a friendly guy (who at the time I thought was a charter captain). He ended up inviting me out for an attempt at Halibut during a weather window the day before my family and I left back for Florida. Loading up early the next morning, it turned out that this wasn't a charter at all, but a family get together that I was kindly invited to join. They were all pumped to see someone get into the water. We got to a spot and the current and conditions couldn't have been more perfect. I tried not to get too excited, but I was wringing my hands, waiting for my shot to get in the water and hunt. The captain told me to get in while he suited up, so I swam a little ways, breathed-up, said a little prayer and some words like, "Whatever happens, happens". Then I took my first "scouting" dive of the day, leveled out on the bottom and carefully made my search for anything anomalous. It didn't take long for me to see two huge frog eyes sticking up from a rock, then my eyes adjusted and saw a gaping wide mouth and the outline of the fish I'd been dreaming of. I was facing head-on with the fish, (not really the shot I was hoping for) but I lined up my Riffe Marauder at an angle and took a close-range shot diagonally downwards through it's head and penetrating just beyond the collar on the bottom of the fish. The angle was mellow enough to allow the 8mm double flopper to deploy even though it'd slid along the rock after penetrating the fish. What I thought was a 60 pound fish lifted off the bottom in a contrail of silt and immediately I knew I was in for a fight. I payed out reel line, making it to the surface with plenty of air to spare, and maintained just enough tension to make sure the floppers on my spear stayed engaged. Once I put on the brakes, (or tried to) I felt the power of the fish turn on. I was completely overpowered as it dragged me hard. I would only regain reel line when the fish would lightly rest, only to lose more line as it ran again and again. After a few runs, I was able to submit the fish and get it onboard. I laid back in the water to take a breather while the guys on the boat went wild. I did too when I saw how big it was spreading across the stern of the boat. After the weigh in, I made a massive Gyotaku print with a queen sized bed sheet, had the fish processed, then preserved the mandibles. After hooking up our local friends with Halibut, we still went home with two 50 lb coolers filled to the brim with halibut, salmon and blueberries.

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