13-year-old boy completes rare billfish grand slam

marlin catch with geo. jr. will mate michael bradshaw and mate ryan powell with will's catch  photo- george c. powell
Will Kilpatrick, in black shirt, posing with blue marlin he caught. Also shown are George Powell Jr. (bottom), Michael Bradshaw (holding fish by leader) and Ryan Powell. Photo courtesy of George C. Powell

Will Kilpatrick, a 13-year-old from North Carolina, did in one day what some fishermen never do in a lifetime of fishing. He completed the billfish grand slam by catching a blue marlin, a white marlin, and a sailfish.

Making it all the more incredible was the fact he had never been fishing on the ocean before going out two weeks ago with family and friends out of Hatteras, North Carolina.

“Catching those three specific species of fish, whether you are a novice or an experienced fisherman, is extremely rare,” Jack Vitek of the International Game Fish Association told the News Observer.

Russell Nelson of the Billfish Foundation told the News Observer that he had never heard of a first-timer coming close to a grand slam, saying “I know of an awful lot of billfish fishermen who are 40 or 50 years older who are working on getting a lifetime grand slam.”

grand slam
Will Kilpatrick holding up flags representing the three billfish he caught as part of his billfish grand slam. George Powell Jr. caught a white marlin. Photo courtesy of George C. Powell

For his achievement, Kilpatrick will receive a special certificate of recognition from the IGFA, the keeper of fishing world records, but he won’t officially join the Offshore Grand Slam Club because rules don’t allow others to touch the fishing rod.

“It was only two seconds, but they did set the hook and give me the rod and all,” Kilpatrick told GrindTV Outdoor.

Fortunately, North Carolina doesn’t have the same restriction, so Kilpatrick will join the North Carolina billfish grand slam club.

“It counts on a state record but not a world record,” Kilpatrick told GrindTV Outdoor. “I don’t like to focus on what I didn’t do. Everybody is saying IGFA, IGFA. I didn’t really know what I had done, and once the records came into play and all, it’s just kinda like, well that would be a bonus, icing on the cake, if you will. I mean, it was awesome.”

Actually, Kilpatrick, an eighth-grader from Apex Middle School who has done plenty of freshwater fishing, would have been satisfied after catching one fish.

Will Kilpatrick getting tossed into the water as part of a tradition to make the billfish grand slam official. Photo is a screen grab from YouTube video about the trip

“After the mahi mahi [his first catch], it was already a complete day for me, and then it just kept going on and on; we caught more fish and more fish,” Kilpatrick told GrindTV Outdoor. “They had told me that if I land the sailfish you will have done something that no one will probably ever do at your age and it will be a rare thing and all.”

Since the billfish were all released, their weights were estimates. The biggest was the blue marlin at 200 to 250 pounds. The white marlin was around 80 pounds and the sailfish estimated around 60, and highlights of the trip can be seen on the YouTube video entitled Grand Slam on the Friendship.

Kilpatrick’s reward once they reached the dock? As is tradition, he was thrown into the water, making the billfish grand slam official.

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