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Big-Fish Stories: State Records and One Huge Great White

The 1,200-pound shark was caught and released at a Panhandle beach.

Big-Fish Stories: State Records and One Huge Great White

Blaine Kenny, owner of the Coastal Worldwide shark fishing and saltwater guide service near Pensacola, had fished all night with his business partner and fishing friend Dylan Wier with no luck. But not long after the sun rose on Jan. 31, 2024 at Navarre Beach, Fla., this estimated 1,200-pound great white shark took their bait and an hour long fight was on. With the whole angling adventure filmed, the pair landed the giant shark as onlookers walked the beach and then carefully released it back into the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Blaine Kenny)

Last fall, we told you about a nearly 1,000-pound alligator caught in a Florida swamp not far from Orlando. Yeah, they grow things big in the Sunshine State.

This winter, we’re telling you about another big toothy critter in Florida, and one of the worst piscatorial nightmares—think "Jaws"—for those who love the beach. A recent catch and release of a monster great white shark might have some beachcombers thinking twice about dipping their toes off the Florida Panhandle.

As the Miami Herald reports, they've got some bigtime company in those waters after a recent shark catch by Blaine Kenny, owner of Coastal Worldwide, and his fishing and business partner Dylan Wier, a pair of anglers who combined to catch-and-release a 1,200-pound great white shark in front of astonished onlookers walking the wintertime beach.

The catch was made at Navarre Beach, a picturesque Gulf Coast coastal hamlet situated between Pensacola and Destin.

Kenny was behind the reel not long after sunup on Tuesday, Jan. 31, when there was a massive take of what was described as "the head of an 80-pound 'massive yellowfin tuna.'" The pair of anglers and dedicated shark conservationists had fished throughout the night, but there was no way they could be prepared for what was suddenly at the other end of their line.

In what was an hour-long fight in bright sunlight, the action is captured in a 25-minute video on the angler's YouTube channel, a video that used high-definition video cameras and a drone to capture the arduous process of landing one of the world’s apex predators.

As the New York Post reported, it was an experience that Kenny and Weir—not to mention onlookers walking Navarre Beach.

“I’ve said it so many times before,” said Kenny according to the Post report. “But truly, truly words cannot describe the feeling of this fish right here.”

There were also a few anxious moments, as the YouTube video and the Coastal Worldwide social media accounts document.




”Talk about the highs and lows of fishing all in one clip," says the pair of anglers on their Instagram account of a moment when they thought the giant shark was lost. "For those of you that fish know that feeling between a slack and that “pop” of the hook or line. We thought we lost the fish of a lifetime.. but by some miracle, she was still attached and we got to close out the fight with a true apex predator.”

Maryland Rainbow Trout Record Shattered

rainbow trout
Jean-Phillippe Lartigue broke the Marylands state record mark for a rainbow trout with a 17.44-pounder. (Photo courtesy of Maryland DNR)

Maryland might not be the first place that anglers think of when they consider a world-class trout being caught, but the Old Line State has some great trout angling possibilities if you know where to look.

On Feb. 10, angler Jean-Phillippe Lartigue proved that and then some when he shattered the state record mark for a rainbow trout with a 17.44-pound rainbow pulled from a section of Antietam Creek that runs through the Devil's Backbone County Park in Washington County.

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According to a Maryland Department of Natural Resources press release, the Bethesda, Md. resident once worked as a fisheries biologist in Africa before retiring and settling in the state. And on his recent fishing trip, he had to put a lifetime of angling skills into play to land this giant trout in the creek’s swift currents.

“I knew the fish was a very large trout, but I did not see how big it was at the beginning of the fight,” said Lartigue in the MDNR news release. “I finally saw the fish, and it made two very long runs to the opposite side of the creek and was hard to move.

"I also had to keep the fish away from some bridge abutments, which could have cut the line easily," he added. "After a very long 30-minute fight, I was able to tire out the fish and grabbed it by the jaw with my fingers since I did not have a landing net large enough.”

In an interesting sidenote, the MDNR points out that Lartigue is French and originally from Morocco, where his father taught him the European method of fishing long rods and natural baits for trout. When he caught the record rainbow earlier in the month, the agency says he was using a 12-foot crappie style long rod, a spinning reel, a small split-shot weight, and a No. 8 hook baited with a natural worm. See, father really does know best sometimes.

The huge rainbow trout breaks the previous record by a considerable margin. That previous rainbow benchmark in Maryland had stood for nearly 40 years after Dave Schroyer caught the 14.2-pound trout back on Oct. 21, 1987.

“We are extremely impressed by the weight of the fish, which beats the old record by over 3 pounds, a record that many of us in the department thought would never be broken,” said Erik Zlokovitz, MDNR Recreational Fisheries Outreach Coordinator.

Ga. Yellow Perch Record Tied

georgia yellow perch
Emerson Mulhall of Cumming, Ga., caught this 2-pound, 9-ounce yellow perch to set a state record. (Photo courtesy of Georgia DNR)

Angler Emerson Mulhall of Cumming, Ga., reeled in a whopping 2-pound, 9-ounce (16 inch) fish on Feb. 18 on Lake Burton, tying the current state record established in 2013, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

“I was confused when I hooked the fish because it didn’t fight like a bass, which is what I typically pursue, and then surprised when I saw the yellow coloring – but got really excited when we realized it was a huge perch,” said angler Emerson Mulhall. “I called my dad, who is the one who taught me to fish, and he encouraged me to get off the lake and go get it weighed on a certified scale. I like to say that there are no ‘bad’ days on the lake, but some days are better than others. This was definitely one of those days.”

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) have a golden yellow body with 6-8 dark vertical bands from back to belly. They have bright orange fins and can get up to 3 pounds, but less than 1 pound is a typical catch. Trophy yellow perch are a by-product of the North Georgia walleye stocking program. They prefer cool water lake environments, but can also be found in large rivers, tailwaters and ponds. Their diet consists of small fish, aquatic insects, crayfish and snails.

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