Florida man catches tuna as big as a bear

big tuna
The record tuna caught off Destin

An angler reeled in a bluefin tuna as heavy as a Grizzly bear in May 2017 off Florida’s Panhandle coast from a boat called “You Never Know.” The giant tuna weighed 826-pounds, 8-ounces.

Fisherman Rick Whitley caught the fish off Destin, setting a Florida saltwater fishing record, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced this week. Capt. Joey Birbeck and mates Dennis Bennett and Josh Goodson helped land the mammoth tuna.

Other record catches announced by FWC this week: A 4-pound, 8-ounce hardhead catfish caught by Ethan Pillitteri; a 35-pound, 9-ounce almaco jack caught by Lewis Sapp; a 2-pound kingfish (whiting) caught by Raymond A. Hathorn, Jr.; and a 26-pound horse-eye jack caught by Sharon Kartrude Pryel.

Note: A previous version of this story indicated Whitley caught the fish in “May.” It has been updated to read “May 2017” to avoid confusion.


  1. Over fishing is a tremendous problem. I realize the sport of fishing is a challenge and people love it. I used to offshore fish in the Keys for sailfish, marlin and the big stuff, however through the years I realize those days are gone….way gone..
    This image is painful to look at knowing the conditions of our ocean and the realization that so few of these magnificent fish will never reach this age again.
    My recommendation is to find another hobby that keeps your interest and challenge. This one is no longer.


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