Colby Blackwell on how he completed the Billfish Grand Slam

 (photo credit: COLBY BLACKWELL)
(photo credit: COLBY BLACKWELL)

To have not one, but two world record sized fish catches is impressive. To accomplish this as a teenager is almost unheard of. Colby Blackwell has not graduated from high school yet, but is already making a name for himself in the sport fishing or game fishing community. 

At just 18 years old, this Birmingham, AL, native has some riveting tales about kayak fishing. A passionate angler enthusiast, Colby also enjoys basketball and hopes to study subjects like business, marketing, and marine biology when he heads to Auburn University this fall. Speaking of marine biology, that is something this young fisherman has gotten up close and personal with, as he is drawn to the thrill of sport fishing.

In 2019 he made his record catches off the coast of Panama: a 52-inch cubera snapper and a 50-inch broomtail grouper. Colby is the first person to catch a swordfish, marlin, and sailfish from a kayak, but he also caught a hefty cobia when he was just 10 years old, which spurred his love for fishing at a young age. 2019 is also the year Colby caught the attention of the international fishing community when he reeled in one of the ocean’s greatest predators.

Colby and a team loaded up a charter boat from Fishhook Marina and planned an excursion roughly 100 miles offshore Golfito, Costa Rica. This is a prime spot to catch blue marlins, one of the most admired feats in sport fishing. A powerful species that can live up to 30 years and weigh anywhere from 100 to 1,376 pounds, these fish are a force to be reckoned with. From a kayak launched into the open ocean, Colby caught a 10-foot, 250-pound blue marlin—at 16 years old. Talk about a ridiculous feat.

This did not quench his appetite for adventure but made him even hungrier. With a passion for (catch and release) fishing, Colby was determined to complete the billfish trifecta (catching three varieties of billed fish: Sailfish, Marlin, Swordfish) in 2020.  Accompanied by renowned swordfisherman Captain Nick Stanczyk, Colby was ready to hook the fish of his dreams. In August of 2020, on the weekend of his 18th birthday, he set off the coast of Islamorada, Florida, to catch what is known as the gladiator of the seas: a swordfish.

Like blue marlins, swordfish are powerful predators with a feature that makes them even more dangerous: a literal sword protruding from their heads. On the second afternoon of the excursion, Colby got his best birthday present yet when he caught a 107-pound swordfish. The eagerness and anticipation of this moment had been a year in the making, but it was finally a reality.

On this day, Colby achieved his goal of completing a billfish grand slam. What sets him apart is that he very well may be the first person to accomplish this from a kayak. He doesn't crave fame, he does not fish for records or recognition or glory; Colby fishes because it is an activity he loves. As he sets off for his college years, one can only imagine what the next expedition will be for this extraordinary young man.