By Nathan Baker
Most big fish stories end with “the one that got away.”
But not the one told by Elizabethton high-schooler Kaleb Walters, who landed a whale of a story on a recent family trip.
A 536-pound story.
Kaleb and his father, Rick Walters, booked a short deep-sea fishing excursion while on a trip to Hawaii last month.
Anchored off the island of Lanai, 17-year-old Kaleb was feeling the ill effects of his first maritime adventure.
“I was seasick the whole time,” he said a couple of weeks after returning from the trip. “It was really my first time out on a boat like that.”
The other shipmates — Rick’s co-workers — drew names to decide which order they would reel in any catches. Kaleb drew the first chance, but soon the four-hour tour neared its end without a bite.
As the good ship “das it” headed back toward the harbor, something big snagged one of the fishing lines dangling in the water.
Fighting waves of nausea, Kaleb sprang to the chair behind the rapidly unwinding line and began fighting the quarter-ton beast at the end.
“It was just like in a movie,” Rick said. “It jumped way out of the water, splashed back down and took out the line. The next time we saw it it was just a little dot on the horizon.”
For 40 minutes Kaleb wrestled the 12-foot marlin closer to the boat, foot by foot.
When it was nearly to the boat, the Elizabethton High football player’s arms gave out.
“I couldn’t lift my arms,” Kaleb said. “It just took everything out of me.”