Fishermen from all over flocked to Destin, Florida earlier this month for the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, a month long competition that has long been known to produce some really large fish.
The first two weeks of the competition have already turned in a 108.8lbs amberjack, 305.4lbs shark, and a 159.6lbs yellowfin tuna, but all of those were cast under the shadow of a monster Warsaw grouper caught on October 9th.
Garrett Thornton of Blackshear, Georgia, along with captain Kyle Lowe and crew, brought in a 333.8 pound monster grouper, just 25 pounds off the tournament record caught by John Hardin of Dunedin, FL in 2003.
Turns out, Captain Lowe had been scoping out this giant for a while.
Back in August, Lowe and Thornton were fishing for snowy grouper but a much larger fish kept stealing their catch. While they didn’t have the right tackle to catch it that day, he made a note to return and promised Thornton he wouldn’t go after it until they could get it together during the rodeo.
And when they did go back, it didn’t take very long to have the grouper on the line, he told the Destin Log.
“We dropped one rod, one bait. I thought we were going to have to smoke out the bite, but he bit within 15 seconds. I knew it was going to be a good one, but I had no idea it was going to be that big…
We had the big tackle, one big rod with brand new line. We did everything to make sure it was right, because I knew he was there…
It took 30 minutes to get him to the top, but then it took over an hour to figure out how to get him over the side of the boat. It took all five of us.”
Awesome of the captain to keep his promise to one of his favorite customers and even more incredible they were able to actually hook it immediately and get it in the boat.
Good luck to the rest of the fishers out there, you have some ground to make up.
Some pretty badass art came from the catch too: