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A Billfish Grand Slam in Hatteras N.C.
An Unbelievable Day!
On June 22, 2013, my thirteen-year-old nephew scored a personal grand slam in the billfish category off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was his first deep sea fishing trip. If you are a fisherman, you know the odds of such a feat. The captain of the boat, George Powell of Virginia Beach, said it was his first Captain’s grand slam after fishing for 30+ years and he has fished all over the world. A grand slam in the billfish category is a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish, all caught in the same fishing trip.
Earlier this year, George promised Will that he would take him out deep sea fishing if he made good grades during the school year. Was that the reason Will made honor roll this year? Who knows, but I am sure it was a great incentive for a kid who had never been out deep- sea fishing. Through the effort of several people, including my older brother who made a seven- hour trip from Bath, N.C. and back to pick him up in Cape Hatteras, Will experienced a fishing trip he will remember for the rest of his life.
On that Saturday, the charter boats and private boats started out their day as they do each morning. It was beautiful on the water as the crew set out for a day of fishing. Will’s goal was to catch a mahi mahi and he reached that goal right away once their boat, “Friendship” piloted by George reached its destination. First mates, Michael Bradshaw and Ryan Powell, along with George’s six-year-old-son, Little George accompanied George and Will. Since it was Will’s first fishing trip, they all agreed to let him do most of the fishing.
Within minutes after catching the mahi mahi, a blue marlin weighing an estimated 200-250 pounds hit the line. Will was strapped into the fighting chair and for about forty-five minutes he fought the largest fish he had ever seen. Eventually, the fish tired and Will had his first successful Marlin catch. The first mates being very experienced saw to it that the fish was doing well and released him back into the sea. A mahi mahi hit the line next, but an exhausted Will told Little George to take it and take it he did. That kid landed a thirty pounder!
Trolling continued for a while longer when “Native Son,” a charter boat, reported they had seen six white marlin. Immediately the “Friendship” crew headed in a new direction. Within minutes of reaching their new destination, four white marlin hit their lines simultaneously. Bradshaw, Will and Little George each landed a 60-80 pound white marlin! The fish were observed for good health and released. By this time, the day was becoming a bit surreal. A grand slam, although still a remote possibility, was in the mind of the Captain and first mates.
Will was an excited but very exhausted young man… exhausted, but not enough to give up one of the two sailfish that hit the line within minutes of putting the baits back into the water!! It was happening, it was real and it was his!!! He and Little George landed the two 40-60 pound sailfish. Will had just accomplished a feat many life-time fisherman never accomplish-A PERSONAL GRAND SLAM!!
The crew stayed a bit longer in an attempt to land a blue marlin so Little George could get a Grand Slam also, but the waters became rough and the ride back was long, so they headed towards the marina in Hatteras Village.
The flags representing the fish caught sailed proudly that day on the “Friendship.” Two young men slept soundly, possibly with visions of the day surfacing in their dreams as the boat sped across the blue waters. Once they pulled into Oden’s Dock, Will learned that a Grand Slam wasn’t official until the angler achieving it had been thrown into the creek. You can guess what happened next. My nephew had become an official Gran Slam achiever-wet clothes and all.
Will ‘s achievement made it into the News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., and George is going to do the paperwork necessary to get him a Grand Slam citation. I know Will is proud of that day, but I also know if he had only caught that first Mahi Mahi, he would have told everyone he knew about his great day of deep-sea fishing with his friends. You are a true sportsman Willman-congrats!
Article in the News and Observer
- 13-year-old Apex student records billfish grand slam | Sports | NewsObserver.com
Will Kilpatrick, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Apex Middle School, caught a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish on his first deep sea fishing trip.