The Hunt for a Double Royal Slam

A junior angler eyes an enviable accomplishment.

Bob Nagelhout and his family are on an interesting quest: for each of the three generations to catch a royal slam of all the world’s billfish species.Courtesy Bob Nagelhout

Billfishing is a family affair for Bob Nagelhout, of Austin, Texas, a passion that he shares with his daughter, Jennifer Nagelhout Sultemeier, and his grandson, 10-year-old Brycen Oquin. Together, they are on an interesting quest: for each of the three generations to catch a royal slam of all the world’s billfish species. To date, young Brycen has had the hot hand, managing to release two of each Pacific billfish species, so now he is eyeing a particularly enviable feat in a double royal slam.

“We just really enjoy fishing together as a family,” Nagelhout says. “So far, we’ve been all over the world, and we’re having a blast doing it.” Their adventures have included chasing juvenile black marlin in Australia, releasing spearfish in Kona, Hawaii, catching striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and more. Next up will be Florida for sailfish, then over to the Dominican Republic for blue and white marlin. Nagelhout hopes to cap the achievement aboard the family’s own boat with a swordfish release off Texas.

When asked about Brycen's biggest thrill so far, Nagelhout had two stories to share. The first was from the trip to Cabo San Lucas, where Brycen's bait was inhaled by a particularly strong game fish while aboard Caliente. After 45 minutes and no jumps, it was clear that it was not the striped marlin they were seeking, so Brycen turned over the rod, where his grandfather Bob proceeded to finish the fight with a 348.5-pound yellowfin tuna. The impressive beast was caught on a tiny Avet reel and 40-pound-test line. Another great experience was in Los Sueños, where Brycen hooked the largest fish of his quest to date, a black marlin they estimated at 400 pounds. They also enjoyed the thrill of light-tackle sailfish action off the Costa Rican destination, fishing on Spanish Fly. Brycen also had a memorable time with Gene Vanderhoek on Sea Genie II in Kona, releasing four spearfish during his time in Hawaii.

“I taught him to fish by pulling on a five-gallon bucket in the water,” Nagelhout says. “It’s a good way to show kids how to manage the drag. You can move the boat forward, then let them gain line as you back up. It shows them technique, not brute force, is important.”

Brycen hopes to complete his quest for the double royal slam in time for his 11th birthday, in July. The rest of the family will also keep fishing toward their goal of three generations accomplishing this incredibly difficult and memorable angling achievement.