Skip to main content Skip to main content

Huge Tuna Among 5 Saltwater State Records Approved in Florida

Huge Tuna Among 5 Saltwater State Records Approved in Florida

state records
Rick Whitley and his Florida-record bluefin tuna, along with Capt. Joey Birbeck and mates Dennis Bennett and Josh Goodson, of the vessel "You Never Know." (Photo courtesy of Rick Whitley)

Five new saltwater state records have been approved in Florida, including a monster tuna.

With the Florida state record for bluefin tuna previously vacant, Rick Whitley could've made it in the record books with just about any legal bluefin.

Instead, he went big — like "Wicked Tuna" big,

Whitley's 826-pound, 8-ounce bluefin not only filled the state's final open conventional-tackle record, it put up a number that may stand for a good long time. The fish was one of five new saltwater records approved by the state during the past year, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release this week.

Whitley caught the record May 8 of last year off Destin while fishing with Capt. Joey Birbeck and mates Dennis Bennett and Josh Goodson on the fishing vessel "You Never Know."

Other record saltwater catches approved in the past year:

  • Hardhead Catfish: Ethan Pillitteri (4-8, Port Charlotte)

  • Almaco Jack: Lewis Sapp (35-9, Destin)
  • Kingfish (whiting): Raymond A. Hathorn, Jr. (2-0, Navarre Beach)
  • Horse-Eye Jack: Sharon Kartrude Pryel (26-0, Juno Beach)

Saltwater record holders receive a certificate of accomplishment and a prize pack, and beginning this year will be awarded a custom ink fish print to memorialize their catch, courtesy of Fish Print Shop.

Florida maintains state all-tackle records for the heaviest marine fishes caught in Florida waters, or in federal waters extending directly outward of Florida state waters, for 77 species in both conventional tackle and fly-fishing categories. 

To qualify for the Florida Saltwater Fishing Records program the catch must be weighed on a certified scale. The angler's signature on a completed application form must be witnessed by a notary. Photographs of the angler with their catch are required. Species that are difficult to identify must be confirmed by a qualified fisheries biologist. For more information and to view current records, visit and click on "Programs" and "Florida Saltwater Fishing Records", or contact or 850-487-0554.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

On the Range

On the Range

We've spent lots of time discussing the features of the Lupo and how they benefit hunters. Now, on episode 11 of Beyond the Rifle, it's time to put these features to use on the range. We realize not everyone can shoot a Lupo today, so we hope this episode gives hunters a good idea of the kind of performance they can expect from this rifle.

Classic Winner: Berkley

Classic Winner: Berkley's New Stunna Jerkbaits

Developed with Bassmaster Classic winner Hank Cherry, the Berkley Stunna is a proven bass catcher. Pure Fishing's Kevin Malone shares details with Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2021 in Orlando.

The Modern Air Rifle: Big-Bore Air Rifle Hunting: What You Need to Know

The Modern Air Rifle: Big-Bore Air Rifle Hunting: What You Need to Know

Imagine hunting big game with a .50 Caliber air rifle. The Umarex Hammer is a high-pressure big bore air rifle engineered for an ethical harvest. This unparalleled air rifle will push a 550-grain slug to 760 FPS and unlike using a traditional firearm, a shooter in a big game hunting situation won't need to wear hearing protection. It's not just another rifle. It's in an air rifle hunting class all by itself.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now