With Hawaii in the bag, 2 friends close in on challenge to catch every state fish

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:19 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Luke Konson and Daniel Balserak share a whale of a fishing tale.

Because of COVID, the best friends from Virginia sat out their freshmen year in college to take a fishing trip of epic proportions.

“We thought, ‘How can we make this unique?’ We thought of the state fish idea. No one has ever done that,” Konson said.

The idea grew into a personal challenge to catch the state fish of every state. Last August, the two 19-year-olds packed their fishing gear into a minivan and hit the road.

“We ended up doing our first leg in the Northeast, states we’re a bit more familiar with,” Balserak said.

From there, it just snowballed. They’ve bagged state fish from coast to coast. They’ve caught them in oceans, rivers and streams. They’ve caught little ones and big ones, and the most challenging one of all.

“Arkansas’ state fish is an alligator gar, which essentially is an alligator with fins instead of legs,” Konson said.

They call their campaign Fish All Fifty. The only rule is that both have to catch a state’s fish, so it can take hours, days, even weeks.

So far, 48 states are checked off their list, including Hawaii and its humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

“All I know it as is the humuhumu,” Balserak said.

The duo has driven over 50,000 miles, fishing, sightseeing and making new friends. They’re funding their trip through their savings and a GoFundMe account.

“We’ve been really fortunate to get donations from a lot of kind people,” Balserak said.

The pair has eaten some of their catch but released most of the fish. All that’s left are Alaska and their home state. They may write a book about their adventures.

“Right now we’re just focusing on finishing the trip first, getting to college, and then we’ll figure it out from there,” Konson said.

In August, they start their college careers at Clemson University.

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