The record bluefin tuna in Florida currently sits at 826.5 pounds, which was caught off the coast of Destin in 2017. This past Sunday, April 17th, 2022, the No Name boat was 160 miles offshore from Destin on a trip meant to target marlin when they hooked into an even bigger bluefin.
The Atlantic Ocean along the east coast is the most popular bluefin tuna fishery in the U.S., but occasionally they’re caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Bluefin tuna cover thousands of miles on their annual migration, and it has been discovered that remote parts of the Gulf are used as their breeding grounds. Many of these bluefin tuna leave the Gulf after they spawn heading around the Florida peninsula.
The season for bluefin tuna in the Gulf is severely limited in an effort to protect these fish in their spawning grounds. While the angling category of the incidental catch trophy season runs until May 4th, any bluefin over 73 inches caught after that date cannot be kept. These incidental catch regulations allow a relatively small number of bluefin to be harvested in the Gulf every year.
While these regulations are in place to protect the bluefin from overfishing, reports of catching on in the gulf are extremely rare. While yellowfin tuna and wahoo are considered open water predators, bluefin tuna are typically caught even further out beyond typical offshore trips.
Captain Jake Matney and crew Devin Sarver and Jett Tolbert hooked into a huge fish and took turns fighting the giant for over five hours. Once the battle was over and the fish was finally brought on board, everyone celebrated their unbelievable catch. Finally, back at Destin Harbor the fish weighed in at 832 pounds and 2 ounces.
Photo from Devin Sarver's Facebook
This fish would have broken the previous record by 5 pounds and 6 ounces, but because multiple people worked together to fight the fish, it will not count for the rod and reel state record. Regardless of the record, the crew was excited to land the fish. According to an article from Field and Stream, the boat and crew recently fought with another big fish for 10 hours, but it eventually broke off.
While this fish would’ve been the new record, exceptionally large bluefin are caught throughout the gulf on rare occasions. In 2021, an angler 150 miles off the coast of Port Aransas caught a bluefin tuna weighing 876 pounds. In 2017, an angler 120 miles from Grand Isle caught another giant bluefin coming in at 835 pounds. While there are giants in the Gulf, if you want to catch one, you will have to travel over 100 miles offshore and fish hard for a while.