Jeff Kolodzinksi has a contagious smile. He’s the kind of guy you meet and you’ll swear you’ve known forever, an unassuming Midwesterner that favors a young Will Ferrell more than a seasoned B.A.S.S. pro. But looks can be deceiving. Make no mistake—Kolodzinksi is one of the world’s most gifted fishermen. And he’s got a Guinness World Record to prove it.
2,143. That’s the number of fish Kolodzinski landed on a single day in a Minnesota pond eight years ago. The tally took 24 sleepless hours perched atop a dock, relentlessly hoisting fish after fish from their beds to the hardwood above. A 10-foot pole, a small float, a few feet of fluorocarbon line, and live bait tethered to a barbless hook were his only tools. Yet, for 24-hours the lifelong angler, whose represented the United States seven times at the World Championships of Freshwater Fishing, averaged an unbelievable pace of 1.48 fish per minute.
The pace was grueling, and as the sun rose for a second time over the pond, Kolodzinski claimed his prize: the Guinness World Record for Most Fish Caught in a Day.
A counter, and a camera, kept track of them all.
Now, nearly a decade after his record breaking performance, the Marathon Man is coming back, but he’s not doing it for his own trophy shelf; he’s doing it for a cause.
Across the United States, thousands of children in need are left without mentors, without a guiding light to lean on for advice, and without a friend to talk to, share stories with, or simply go fishing for a day. The Marathon Man hopes he can help fix that by partnering with Fishing For Life, a nonprofit charity that provides mentors to children in need, with an emphasis on children whose families have lost a loved one while serving the country.
“My true passion has always been to introduce people — especially families — to the sport of fishing,” Kolodzinski explains. “Bringing the Marathon Man out of retirement could have only happened for that reason.”
In a nod to those families, the Marathon Man will attempt to break his 2,143 fish record for most fish caught in a single day this September 11. To do so, he’ll need to average a mind-bending two fish per minute. But Kolodzinski says he’s up for the challenge. “If I can just be more efficient with handling and unhooking the fish, I think I can get close to 3,000 in 24 hours. Insane, I know!”
Like Evel Knievel setting the stage for a record breaking jump, Kolodzinski has carefully chosen the venue for his latest attempt, the 840-acre Giant Goose Ranch on the outskirts of Canton, Ill. Inside its labyrinth of lakes and timber, he’s picked a dock where he believes thousands of hungry fish loiter, waiting for a meal. On September 11, he’ll watch the sun rise and set there in a sleepless quest to raise money for Fishing For Life.
He’ll do it with the world watching live on Facebook.
The Marathon Man says he’s partnered with a laundry list of fishing companies to reward those watching live. Hourly giveaways, he says, will come from St. Croix Rods, Thill Floats, Suffix Line, VMC Hooks, Costa Del Mar sunglasses, Mr. Crappie Poles, Gerber fishing tools, Gemini apparel, Old Town Canoes & Kayaks, Humminbird Fish Finders, Talon shallow water anchors and Minn Kota trolling motors.
To win, you only have to tune-in to the Marathon Man Fishing Facebook page this Tuesday.
“Partnering with Fishing For Life and Giant Goose Ranch is my way of giving back to the sport that’s given me so much while bringing awareness to a program that supports our military heroes,” adds Kolodzinski. “We hope to raise money — from inside and outside the fishing industry — to fund the Next GEN program for the many families of military personnel who will benefit from it. Along the way, I think we can show people how great the sport of fishing really is — how it promotes nature, family, camaraderie and fun in the outdoors. It’s been a huge part of my life, and I want to share it.”