The Year’s Most Epic Man-vs-Fish Battles (So Far)

In Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago the titular fisherman says, “Fish…I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.” Like Hemingway’s protagonist, these determined anglers not only engaged in epic battles with sharks, marlins, and other stubborn aquatic species ― but also lived to tell the tale!

Anthony Wichman vs Tuna
On July 19, the 54-year-old was deep-sea fishing off the coast of Hawaii when he felt a sharp tug. The antagonist: a 230-pound ahi tuna. What followed was a three-day ordeal, during which Wichman’s boat was nearly capsized. When a Coast Guard response team finally located the two combatants (using the man’s cell phone signal), they found the tuna still wriggling on the line; Wichman donated the fish to his rescuers.

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Anonymous Floridian vs Tarpon
Found throughout the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic tarpon is a wide-mouthed member of the Megalops family known for taking a big bite out of anything in its general vicinity ― even a human hand, as this unfortunate Sunshine Stater (who may or may not be named ‘Billy’) learned. As the video shows, tarpon are as strong as they are stubborn. (Due to an excessive amount of screaming, you may want to mute your computer before playing the clip).

lliot Sudal vs Sandbar Shark
“I go out every night fishing for bluefish and striped bass,” said Connecticut native Elliot Sudal, who got more than he bargained for when he reeled in a seven-foot sandbar shark during a trip to Massachusetts’ Nantucket Beach. It took the stalwart fisherman 45 minutes to finally bring the animal ashore ― but being a conservationist at heart, Sudal simply removed his hook and let the big fella go.

Steve Angel vs Blue Marlin
In early September, Angel hit the waters off the coast of Virginia Beach with a group of experienced fishermen. Their goal was to reel in a few modest billfish, but no one anticipated the duel that ensued between Angel and a massive Atlantic blue marlin. The crew of ‘Chasin’ Tale’ went home empty-handed, but those on board estimate the animal weighed in excess of 700 pounds; if their claims are accurate, then this number would most likely qualify the marlin as a record-breaker. Alas, no catch, no record ― but a terrific story, nonetheless.  

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Anonymous Russian vs Demon Fish
Ugly fish, ugly battle. That’s the best way to describe this exchange between a Russian angler and the stout demon fish that clamped down on his left hand after getting snagged in a net. It’s unknown where the footage was shot, but the demon fish is a river-dweller characterized by its large size and terrifying teeth; River Monsters host Jeremy Wade describes them as ‘underwater hyenas,’ on account of both their physical description and their vicious demeanor.

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Isaac Brumagim vs Tiger Shark
This kayak fisherman from Hawaii earns extra points; he not only escaped with his life after a one-on-one encounter with a tiger shark, and managed to catch the incident on video. Amazingly, he was reeling in a smaller kawakawa fish when the greedy carnivore swam to the surface and attempted to steal the smaller fish off the line. When Brumagim continued to reel in the kawakawa, the shark (which weighed anywhere from 400 to 500 pounds) aggressively rammed the boat. The shark ultimately proved victorious in this instance, but Brumagim was able to catch two more fish that day ― neither of which was pilfered by his dorsal-finned adversary.