Teen reels in half-ton blue marlin in rare catch off Kona

Local News

(CNN/KHON2) — You’ve heard of the story of the one that got away. Well, this is not that story.

A 16-year-old boy from New York has quite the fishing tale to tell.

Kai Rizzuto joined “the grander club” after landing a 1,058-pound blue marlin off Kona earlier this week. The 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.

McGrew Rice, a boat captain with Ihu Nui Sportsfishing, says the massive marlin was about 11 feet long.

“My deck hand saw the fish eat the lure. He said it was a big fish, but it didn’t act like a big fish at the beginning and then about maybe five minutes into the fight, it came up jumping and we realized how big it was then,” he said.

Rice said it took the teen about 30 minutes to reel in the big fish. It took four people to lift the fish into the boat.

Rice compared the rare catch to “hitting a grand slam in the World Series.”

According to Rice, fishing is in Rizzuto’s blood. His grandfather, Jim Rizzuto, is a Kona-based fishing writer. Kai 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.

“It was an extra special day,” Rice said. “Kai’s grandfather was my math teacher in high school and I’ve known him for a long time and it just made it extra special to catch that fish for his grandson.”

“This fish came to the boat dead, upside down on its back, there was no chance of reviving it,” Rizzuto 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.

“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,” Rizzuto said.

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.

“I’m not sure what type of reaction I’m coming home to, but I’m excited to see what it’s going to be. So far it’s been crazy, my Facebook has been blowing up, and it’s been an unreal experience.”

Local fishermen believe Rizzuto is the youngest person to catch a grander off Kona.

Ihu Nui Grander • Feb 18, 2015 from Farish Media

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