A kayak fisherman who completed the billfish trifecta has accomplished quite a feat. Catching two world record-sized fish from a kayak also makes waves in the sporting world. When that fisherman is a teenager, who caught a 250-pound Blue Marlin when he was 16, he gets people’s attention. This is the resume of Alabama native Colby Blackwell, now 18 years old, and he’s just getting started.
While he fishes purely for fun and the thrills of angling, the internet has undoubtedly noticed Blackwell. Constantly encouraging himself to push the envelope, Colby Blackwell is happy to oblige as it fuels his lifelong passion for fishing. Bound for Auburn University this fall, the young sportsman has already secured an important business partnership.
This partnership is with the Florida Sea Grant’s on their new project to reduce fatalities in catch and release fish who develop barotrauma. The Gulf of Mexico is a paradise for recreational fishing. So much so that the fisheries have regulations on releasing the fish that are caught. Most reef fish in the Gulf are caught in deep water, so quickly reeling them to the surface can cause barotrauma. This pressure-related injury results from tissues and organs expanding to cause internal damage preventing fish from swimming back to safe depths.
Anglers strive to practice optimal catch and release techniques to prevent this damage from occurring, but the Florida Sea Grant wants to take things a step further. Enter their new ambassador: Colby Blackwell. This popular figure has teamed up with the project to reduce barotrauma fatalities. This will be achieved by creating educational materials about better catch and release practices. Plus, Blackwell will be creating media to spread the foundation’s message. Lastly, Colby and the Florida Sea Grant will be donating thousands of barotrauma devices over the next few years to those who take the educational barotrauma courses they produce.
As part of the project involves direct engagement with the sport and recreational fishing communities, there is no doubt people would be delighted to receive a visit from Colby Blackwell. And who better to demonstrate the use of lifesavingcatch and release devices than this young fisherman who truly practices what he preaches.