Jeff Kolodzinski is a man on a mission - a Marathon Man out to break a record he already holds. On September 4 and 5, 2019, at Giant Goose Ranch in Canton, Illinois, he will attempt to catch more than 2,143 fish on hook and line to break his own world record set in 2011.
But Kolodzinski is not doing it for a spot in the record books. He's doing it to introduce people and families to fishing and to increase awareness and financial support for Fishing For Life, a non-profit, charitable organization whose Next GEN program finds mentors for children of families in need. A special focus within the program serves families of our veterans who have lost loved ones while serving our nation. "It's important to me to remember those who have sacrificed for our nation, so we're doing our event just ahead of 9/11," says Kolodzinski. "This is a day and a time that we can honor those who have given all, shine a light on those still serving, and provide practical help to those families through Next GEN."
Not only is Kolodzinski the current world record holder for fish caught in a 24-hour period, but he also represented the United States seven times in international competition at the World Championship of Freshwater Fishing. He currently serves as the Fishing Brand Manager for Johnson Outdoors and is a longtime fishing industry professional with many awards and accolades.
"My true passion has always been to introduce people - especially families - to the sport of fishing," Kolodzinski explains. "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. 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, healthy relationships, mental health, camaraderie and fun. It's been a huge part of my life, and I want to share it."
The "Marathon Man" event will be hosted live online and on Facebook Live for all 24 hours on the Marathon Man Fishing Facebook page.
"The Facebook platform allows people from all levels of fishing interest all across the globe - in real-time - to be a part of this event," Kolodzinski says. "You don't need a lot of expensive equipment, a lot of time, or a lot of technical know-how to go fishing, or to change lives. All you need are some basics and the desire to get started." The live feed is found at https://www.facebook.com/MarathonManFishing/.
The Fishing For Life "Next GEN" program pairs mentors with children in military families who have a family member who is deployed, or who doesn't return from a deployment, or who returns from a deployment with conditions that prevent them from participating with their family in the same way that they were able to prior to their deployment. The mentors teach not only outdoors skills, but life skills, using fishing and the outdoors as a context for building relationships.
Kolodzinski set the record in Minnesota in 2011 - 2,143 fish in 24 hours - and he believes that it can be broken. To set that record, he averaged better than 89 fish per hour; that's 1.48 per minute!
"I think I can average two per minute if conditions are right," he says. "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!"
For his fishing, Kolodzinski will use a 10-foot pole, 10 feet of fluorocarbon line, a small barbless hook, a small float and live bait. Most of the fish he'll be catching will be panfish - bluegill, crappie, perch and the occasional largemouth bass.
As part of the broadcast, Marathon Man will offer hourly product giveaways from supporting sponsors. Current sponsors include 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, Engel Coolers, Talon shallow water anchors, and Minn Kota trolling motors.
Companies and sponsors interested in making a tax-deductible donation or pledge, may sign up by contacting Kolodzinski at Marathonmanfishing@gmail.com or use his GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/marathon-man-fishing-for-life-2019