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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

May 20, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Ballard angler hooks big halibut out of kayak off Neah Bay


Another big fish story has been reeled in, and this one ranks in the lore of David and Goliath.

One of the hardest challenges for boat anglers is catching a giant halibut, but just imagine doing it aboard a 14-foot kayak.

That is just what Brad Hole of Ballard did May 9 while fishing off the Northwestern coast.

Hole and a group of friends from the Northwest Kayak Anglers organization spent a few days fishing for halibut, lingcod and bottomfish outside of Hobuck Beach at Neah Bay.

A couple weeks before, Hole and a friend had taken their Hobie Pro Angler Kayaks up to the area to fish the lingcod opener when he hooked, but never saw, what he thought was a big halibut in 25 feet of water.

“I knew the fish were hanging in shallow water so when we returned I stayed within a couple miles from shore in 40 to 90 feet of water,” Hole said.

It didn’t take long for Hole to hook into something big.


On the first drop of the morning, Hole let his bait — an 8-inch whole flounder — on a spreader bar with a 12-ounce weight down to the bottom in 40 feet of water.

“The fish fought hard for about 15 minutes, and pulled me around and then I finally got it to the surface,” said Hole who prepared to try out his homemade harpoon attached to a crab float.

“I tried to get my kayak in position, and threw the harpoon toward the halibut and missed,” said Hole. “The water exploded around me, and then the fish began peeling off fishing line.”

“The fish went several hundred yards out to sea, and I yelled at one of my buddies nearby to grab my harpoon,” he said.

His friend followed nearby, and Hole managed to bring the giant fish back up to the surface. He got into position again, and this time the harpoon struck the fish.

They tied the still-thrashing halibut to the back of the kayak, and made it back to shore where the fish measured almost 55 inches and weighed an estimated 80 pounds.

“That was definitely a fish of a lifetime to catch in a kayak,” Hole said. “My friend (Rory O’Conner) caught a 71-pound halibut on his kayak (last season).”

That same day, three of his friends also managed to hook into some halibut, each weighing about 30 pounds, and they all caught their limits of lingcod.


Hole says the halibut could be the biggest landed in a kayak in the Lower 48 states.

Hole has also been pursuing cutthroat trout in Lake Washington with decent success.

“I’ve been fishing Lake Washington extensively since last October for cutthroat trout and just getting into them pretty good,” Hole said. “I’m pulling lead lines with spoons or a full size herring, and the cutties coming out of there are up to 23 and 24 inches.”

Hole fishes out of a 14-foot Hobie Pro Angler, which he jokingly calls the “yacht” of kayaks. It is pedal powered (unlike the normal paddle types) and weighs about 120 pounds and measures 30 inches wide. The kayak has a fishfinder, GPS unit, downrigger, and has five tackle boxes, can hole six rods.

“It’s a total fishing machine, and allows you to go hands-free fishing and travels at 4 to 5 mph,” Hole said.

(Photos courtesy of Brad Hole and Rory O’Conner)




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