A New York City teenager made the biggest catch of his life when he reeled in a 1,058-pound blue marlin off the coast of Hawaii.
Kai Rizzuto’s catch came in about 300 pounds short of the International Game Fish Association’s 1982 world record for blue marlin, which was caught in nearby Kaaiwi Point, about 10 miles up the Kona coast.
Kai, who lives in Brooklyn, visits his grandfather on the Big Island every year. He has been fishing since he was 2 and apprenticed as a deckhand on a charter boat two summers ago.
Before this, the biggest fish Kai caught was about 55 pounds, he told CNN. By comparison, this week’s catch came in at 14 feet long, about “five times as big as me” in terms of weight and twice his height, including the bill.
“He has quite a bit of experience in big game fishing, but this was the first time that he has been the guy on the rod and reel for a blue marlin,” Jim Rizzuto said.
Kai and his grandfather were out on the charter boat Ihu Nui — Hawaiian for “big nose” — near Kahaluu Beach along the Kona coast, on the west side of the Big Island, when he hooked the big fish Wednesday.
“It was jumping straight out of the water, fully breached, shaking its head trying to free itself,” Kai told CNN. “I was really hoping and praying that nothing would happen to this fish and that it wouldn’t break off [the line].”
It took Kai about 30 minutes to reel in the fish, which was so long that the tail end of it was hanging off the 45-foot boat, Jim Rizzuto said. From there, it took four people to lift the fish into the boat.
“This fish came to the boat dead, upside down on its back, there was no chance of reviving it,” he said. “By and large, we try and release every blue marlin we can as a conservation measure, but sometimes in a hard fight the fish dies and there is nothing you can do.”
Instead, the fish will be used for food, Rizzuto said. He estimates it can feed “a couple of hundred people.”
“Blue marlin is a high-quality protein. They have been eaten here forever, so when we get a very special fish like this, you turn it over to a fish cutter that makes sure everyone who wants a piece gets a piece.”
As Kai heads back to New York on Saturday, he returns with a few blisters on his hand and an unforgettable story that is drawing attention worldwide.
It also has invigorated his interest in marine biology, he said.
“This makes me want to go into ocean science or to study the bigger creatures out there,” Kai said. “Maybe I want to be a captain. I want to keep my options open.”
The high school junior has plenty of time to figure it out. For now, he’s enjoying the glory.