Jeff Kolodzinski is a man on a mission – a Marathon Man out to break a record he already holds. Starting at 9:00am on September 9th, 2020, at Sankoty Lakes Resort and Retreat outside Peoria, Illinois, he will attempt to catch more than 2,172 fish on hook and line to break his own record set in 2019.
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 then Fishing Brand Manager for Johnson Outdoors and is a longtime fishing industry professional with many awards and accolades.
But Kolodzinski is not doing it for a mere 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 NextGEN program serves our armed forces families by finding mentors for 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,” 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 Fishing For Life’s NextGEN program.”
The Fishing For Life “NextGEN” 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.
“My true passion has always been to introduce people – especially families – to the sport of fishing,” Kolodzinski explains. “Partnering with Fishing For Life and Sankoty Lakes Resort and Retreat 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 and their families. We hope to raise money – from inside and outside the fishing industry – to fund Fishing For Life’s NextGEN 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 goal for 2020 is to raise $20,000, a year that will also mark Kolodzinski’s 20,000th fish caught for charity over the years he’s been hosting the Marathon Man event.
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 live feed is found at https://www.facebook.com/MarathonManFishing/.
“The Facebook platform allows people from all levels of fishing interest across the globe – in real-time – to be a part of the 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.”
Kolodzinski set the record at Nate Herman’s Goose Ranch in 2019 – 2,172 fish in 24 hours – and he believes it can be broken. To set that record, he averaged more than 90 fish per hour; that’s 1.5 fish per minute!
“I think I can average two per minute if the 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 2,500 fish 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, hybrid bluegill, crappie, perch, and the occasional largemouth bass.
There will be a significant social media push ahead of the event and throughout all 24 hours of the event. As part of the broadcast, Marathon Man will offer product giveaways from supporting sponsors. Those who donate $25 or more will also be entered into a drawing for even more fishing-related prizes. Current sponsors include St. Croix Rods, Thill Floats, Sufix line, VMC hooks Costa Del Mar sunglasses, Mr. Crappie Poles, Gerber fishing tools, Gemini apparel, Old Town Canoes, 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 via the Contact Page at marathonmanfishing.com or use his Givergy page givergy.us/MM2020. Donations can also be made by texting “MM2020” to 888-646-0646.