Girl, 5, has an unofficial fishing grand slam

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2013 

Taylor Collins is on the right, held by her father, Lee Collins, and Bo Davenport, the ship's mate, on the left.

NO CREDIT

Only two billfish grand slams caught in North Carolina have been recorded as official on the all-time list. Taylor Collins, 5, nearly had the third last month.

Collins caught a blue marlin, a sailfish and a white marlin, but because she had help from the boat’s mate, her grand slam was not entered in the record book.

Lee Collins, the captain of the Strike ‘Em charter boat in the Outer Banks, planned on setting out Aug. 8 with a group of anglers to prepare for a tournament the following week, but the group canceled the night before. Instead, Collins went out with his daughter, Taylor, and the mate, Bo Davenport.

Shortly after departing, Taylor Collins hooked a fish and started reeling in what would turn out to be a nearly 175-pound blue marlin. That was when Lee Collins realized that his daughter might be able to do something special.

“She got the first hook and I said to my mate, ‘Let’s see if she can do it,” Lee Collins said. “We got her in the chair and she started turning the handle and she eventually pulled him up. I said, ‘Man, that might be a blue marlin, that’s crazy.’

“When she reeled in that blue marlin, I knew she had a shot at a grand slam. That’s the toughest one to reel in.”

Nearly an hour after the blue marlin was caught and released, another fish was hooked on Taylor’s rod. After fighting with the fish for several minutes, she pulled in a sailfish with assistance from Davenport.

Taylor then caught a white marlin to complete her grand slam.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Lee Collins said. “She’s gone out with me several times before and caught some good-sized dolphins and other fish, but I never expected that.”

Taylor followed up with a gaffer dolphin, tuna and another white marlin. She needed a nap after spending all day in the fighting chair.

“She was worn out,” Outer Banks Anglers Club member Robert Williams said. “Her father had to pick her up and carry her in his arms as he walked out to everyone clapping and screaming for her. She came out and she said, ‘Wow! I guess I’m famous?’”

The feat will not go down as an official record since she had help from Davenport. But the International Game Fish Association gave Taylor Collins an “Outstanding Achievement Award,” which was sent by Jack Vitek, the World Records Coordinator for the IGFA.

A grand slam consists of catching three different species of billfish on the same day.

In June, Will Kilpatrick, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Apex Middle School, caught a a blue marlin, a white marlin and a sailfish, but did not get credit for a grand slam because he was handed a fishing rod, which under the rules qualified as assistance.

For Lee Collins, it was one of his proudest moments regardless of whether it went down in the record books.

“My daughter is my world,” he said. “I’ve been a mate for 14 years and I just started running the Strike ‘Em in February and that was the first grand slam I’ve had caught as a captain. To do it with my daughter as the angler, that will be the highlight of my career.

“I can’t imagine being more proud of her than I was that day.”

Smith: 919-829-4841; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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