Will Kilpatrick caught a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish in the same day, but his accomplishment won’t be approved by the International Game Fish Association for inclusion in its all-time list of billfish grand slams.
Kilpatrick’s catch would have been the third official North Carolina billfish grand slam. Catches must adhere to IGFA rules to be recognized and Kilpatrick, who was making his first deep sea fishing trip, violated one of most basic requirements when he received assistance with his blue marlin catch.
A grand slam consists of catching three different species of billfish on the same day. The 13-year-old eighth grader at Apex Middle School caught a blue marlin that was estimated to weigh between 200 and 250 pounds, a white marlin estimated at 60 to 80 pounds and a sailfish that weighed an estimated 40-60 pounds. All of the fish were released.
“When the blue marlin hit, Will went to the fighting chair and the first mate handed him the rod. That is a violation of the IGFA rules,” said Will Kirkpatrick’s father, Mike Kirkpatrick, who learned of the rule while filling out the record application forms. He confirmed the interpretation of the rules with IGFA rules administrator Jack Vitek on Tuesday.
“No one else can touch the rod, reel or line once the fish bites. We didn’t know. They were just out fishing. We knew it was a grand slam, but we didn’t know there were so many rules.”
The IGFA rule is clear that the mate handing the rod to the Kilpatrick was a violation.
Catches are disqualified by, “The act of persons other than the angler in touching any part of the rod, reel, or line either bodily or with any device, from the time a fish strikes or takes the bait or lure, until the fish is either landed or released...”
Kilpatrick was making his first deep sea fishing trip with George Powell of Virginia Beach, Va. Not receiving the official recognition doesn’t take away any of his joy, Will Kilpatrick said.
“Not one bit,” he said. “I understand the rule now. He didn’t have the rod but two seconds, but he set the hook. But it doesn’t matter to me if it is a record or not.”
Mike Kilpatrick said the error was due to a lack of fishing experience.
“I wasn’t there and I’ve never been deep sea fishing. It was Will’s first trip,” Mike Kilpatrick said. “We didn’t mean to deceive anyone or do anything wrong. We just don’t know a lot about fishing.”
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