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Prepping & Survival

Giant, 888-Pound Tuna Is the Largest Ever Caught off Florida Coast

Six anglers fishing aboard the Flat Dangerous, an 80-foot Viking based in Destin, Florida, lucked into a ferocious bite on Wednesday from an 888-pound bluefin tuna. With fish boiling on the surface all around them, the crew hooked and landed what was quickly recognized as the largest bluefin ever recorded off the Florida coast. However, because more than one angler fought the giant fish, it doesn’t qualify as a record.

This was the first time the crew had taken the new Viking out, Captain George Gill told the Destin Log. Joining Gill onboard were the boat’s owner Warren Williams, along with Eddy Griffith, Dennis Bennet, John Balters, and Kole Melancon.

The anglers ran 68 miles offshore to work around some floating “fish aggregating devices” — which are large, man-made floating objects designed to attract tuna, dolphin, and other fish. They caught a few small tuna before the surface erupted with a huge school of bluefins feeding on top.

“There were hundreds of [bluefins],” Gill said. “The school was massive, and they were all the same [size] of fish.’

Gill eased the Viking boat into the school, offering them small tuna baits made from the fish they’d already caught. They hooked two big tuna in a row but broke them off each time. Around 1 p.m., they hooked a third giant bluefin and pinned an oversized circle hook in the corner of its mouth.

The surface strike was an incredible thing to see, Griffith said. When the fish sucked down their bait, it produced a hole that “looked like a Russian submarine was attacking.”

“It was incredible – that’s burned in my memory forever,” he said.

Williams was first on the rod, but he eventually wore out and gave it up. The fish kept boring deep, and he wasn’t gaining much line back on the reel, which was spooled with 100-pound test. Melancon took the rod next, but he eventually passed it onto the others aboard the Flat Dangerous.

The tuna fought so hard that Gill said it died about an hour into the battle. He thinks the fish must have gotten its tail wrapped in the fishing line.

“So, we spent four hours, inches at a time, getting that thing up,” Gill said.

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They finally hauled the tuna aboard around 7 p.m. and returned to Destin by 9 p.m. The tuna was so massive that the anglers had a hard time getting it through the open stern door and up to the scales on the dock. An onlooker posted videos of their struggle on Facebook, along with several photos showing how giant the tuna was.

The bluefin measured 110 inches, or more than 9 feet, long and weighed 888 pounds on the scale. Had only one angler reeled it in, the fish would have easily broken the standing state record for bluefin tuna, an 826.5-pounder caught in 2017.

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