• Ken Perrotte

Florida Woman Notches World Record Halibut, Spearfishing the Beast in an Alaskan Kelp Forest


photo by James Ferrara @jferraragallery

A 32-year-old woman from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was just certified as the new International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) record holder for Pacific halibut in the Women Sling/Polespear category. Lisa Stengel used a Headhunter NOMAD Roller Polespear to shoot the 71.4-pound halibut while freediving in 46-degree water just south of Homer, Alaska. Describing her accomplishment on the association’s records recording page, Stengel writes that the Alaska spearfishing expedition had been planned for several months.


Stengel was wearing a 7-millimeter wetsuit, needed for the frigid water, and diving with Homer-based Coldwater Alaska when she took the fish on July 12. The company specializes in freediving and spearfishing for halibut, lingcod, salmon and rockfish, hunting fish in water down to 50 feet or more.


Brad Conley, owner of Coldwater Alaska, praised Stengel’s achievement, noting that hunting the often-dense kelp forests, swaying in the current, can be incredibly tricky. “It’s been an interesting fishery,” Conley said. “These kelp forests can hold some big fish, ones that come and seem to take up residence. Thirty-foot visibility is great for us, but what’s interesting about hunting in the kelp is that it’s not just water clarity. You’re in a forest with a lot of shadows. In thick spots, it’ll block out the sun.”


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