The catch of an 826-pound, 8-ounce bluefin tuna off Destin, Florida, has been been approved as a state record.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the approval on Tuesday, more than a year after the catch was made by Rick Whitley aboard the vessel, You Never Know.
Atlantic bluefin tuna are typically caught farther north, and Whitley’s catch in May of 2017 fills a vacant category for the species in Florida.
It’s uncertain why the approval process took so long, but research reveals that Whitley and his pals were fishing for blue marlin when the tuna struck. According to a report in The Tennessean, the hookup occurred just after dawn and the fight lasted three hours.
Although other anglers were aboard, only Whitley handled the rod while Capt. Joey Birbeck maneuvered the boat. If another angler were to have touched the rod before the tuna was brought to the leader, it could not have qualified for a record.
The market value of the fish – bluefin tuna are prized in Asian markets, where the flesh is sold as sashimi – was estimated at $20,000.
While it was a massive specimen, Atlantic bluefin tuna grow much larger.
The International Game Fish Assn. lists as the all-tackle world record a 1,496-pound bluefin tuna caught in 1979 off Nova Scotia, Canada.
–Bluefin tuna images are courtesy of the FWC