Freediver Braves Frigid Alaskan Waters to Spear World-Record Halibut

by Jon D. B.

32-year-old Lisa Stengel has set a world record for Pacific halibut, and she’s sharing the entire dive through these remarkable photos.

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

Ah, the language of the Outsider. Do continue, Lisa! What a champion she is. The freediver made the best of Alaska’s frigid waters – and her search for a spearfishing challenge paid off tenfold as she has set the world record for Pacific halibut!

To do so, Stengel speared her massive 71.4-pound behemoth while diving just south of Homer, Alaska on July 12.

“I may have shot this fish by myself but I definitely couldn’t have done it without the company of the best dive crew ever @jferraragallery @chrisdupes @bertie_bda @iuseaspear,” she tags of her team in the fantastic gallery above. “Thanks for showing me that the big ones are out there, that no day is complete without a trip to the hardware store, and for sharing the catches of the day cooked to perfection.”

In addition, Stengel thanks “@coldwateralaska @alaskabuscompany for cheering me on and sharing your home waters with us. To @headhunterspearfish , thanks for the best fish poker that ever was designed, my Nomad slayed!” she adds of her spear.

Stengel wore a 7-millimeter wetsuit for the 46-degree water for her brilliant catch.

Florida Woman’s World Record Halibut Courtesy of a ‘Perfect Shot’

Hailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Lisa Stengel tells USA Today’s FTW Outdoors that her travels took her to Alaska in order to hunt big.

Once there, she would spot her huge halibut swimming above the kelp floor at a depth of around 30 feet. It was then that she would register the “perfect shot” that brought the gargantuan fish in.

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

Stengel says her team wound up “navigating through kelp to dial-in tracking the halibut” for several days. There, they “dove the dark, murky, 46-degree water” to catch the prize.

“On the final day, we missed our window of diving at slack tide, fighting a very strong current while chumming the waters.” There, she “was close to exhaustion, but we were seeing halibut so I decided to persevere through one more dive,” she continues.

“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,” she recalls. Then, she would line up her polespear “just behind the gill plate towards the lateral line, kicked in for a close punch, and let it pile drive through the fish.”

The end result speaks for itself. Now, the International Underwater Spearfishing Association is officially announcing her world record in Women’s Sling & Polespearing category.

Congratulations, Lisa! What a killer journey.