A massive, 827-pound bluefin tuna boated off Destin is now officially penciled into the Florida record books.
The 826-pound, 8-ounce bluefin tuna was caught aboard the vessel You Never Know in May of 2017. More than a year later, angler Rick Whitley and friends have the new state record for the Sunshine State.
The huge tuna had a length of 114 inches and its girth came in at a whopping 80 inches around!
“We had caught live bait the first night and woke up at 5:30 the next morning and started dragging live bait and hooked up with the fish at about 6:05 a.m,” said Lanny Clark, who witnessed the big catch. “(Whitley) hooked the fish and it was about a three-hour fight.”
Whitley was on his own once the big fish struck. Had another angler taken ahold of the rod and reel, it wouldn’t have qualified for the record.
Here’s an easy-to-navigate video of the catch:
Jim Roberson, an IGFA representative based in Destin, Florida, said there was no current bluefin tuna record for the state of Florida at that time. Well, that’s no longer the case!
“After about six or seven runs down,” Clark told the Tennesseean. “In other words, (Whitley) would get the fish where he was close and when we would think we were finally going to see him, the fish would see the color of the boat and make another run away.”
The massive tuna wouldn’t give in a bit, either, according to Clark.
“The fish made about six or seven runs,” said. “After his last run the fish died. He died of a heart attack. When they get that big and that old they’ll fight pretty much to the death.”
Now that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has approved the record, there’s nothing left to do for Whitley (and his friends) but to cash in on the estimated $20,000 value of a bluefin which are revered in Asia for their flesh.
Big congratulations go out to Rick Whitley and all those aboard the You Never Know for this amazing catch!