Freediver spears world-record halibut in frigid Alaskan waters

·2 min read

A freediver who braved Alaska’s frigid waters in search of a spearfishing challenge has set a world record for Pacific halibut.

“I love a good challenge and Alaska was definitely the right playing field,” Lisa Stengel stated on Instagram. “The water is cold, the visibility is bad, the current is worse but the abundance of wildlife and the coastline views are stunning.”

Stengel shot the 71.4-pound halibut in 46-degree water while wearing a 7-millimeter wetsuit and diving out of Homer with Coldwater Alaska on July 12.

Lisa Stengel with her record halibut. Photo: ©James Ferrara

The 32-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., told FTW Outdoors that she was hunting at a depth of 25-30 feet when she spotted the halibut swimming just above the kelp floor. She registered a perfect shot that incapacitated the powerful fish.

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“I don’t have the exact time [of the struggle] but it wasn’t long,” she said. “Just long enough to battle the current.”

The International Underwater Spearfishing Assn. recently announced her world record in the Women Sling / Polespear category.

Photo: ©James Ferrara

Stengel, who used an 8-foot Headhunter NOMAD Roller Polespear, told the IUSA that the plan to hunt for record halibut was months in the making, and that success didn’t occur until the final day of the Coldwater Alaska expedition.

“For several days we dove the dark, murky, 46-degree water, navigating through kelp to dial-in tracking the halibut,” Stengel recalled. “On the final day, we missed our window of diving at slack tide, fighting a very strong current while chumming the waters. I was close to exhaustion, but we were seeing halibut so I decided to persevere through one more dive.

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“I cocked my polespear while descending so I would be ready once the bottom came into view. I spotted two halibut butterflying just above the kelp floor, the one closest to me being the biggest. I lined my polespear up just behind the gill plate towards the lateral line, kicked in for a close punch, and let it pile drive through the fish.”

The halibut went limp and Stengel realized she had a “holding shot.” She quickly gathered her float line and secured the record fish.

–Images courtesy of James Ferrara