Young Texas Fisherman’s First Catch Ends Up Being State Record Black Grouper

Texas fisherman grouper
Coastal Fisheries - Texas Wildlife & Parks

If you went fishing for the first time and the first thing you ever reeled in was a state record fish, why would you ever cast a line again?

Well, I guess if you were going for a world record, it would make sense…

Dace D’Onofrio, a young Texas Angler, was fishing out in the Gulf with his dad Michael this past May when he made a catch of a lifetime. Can it be a catch of a lifetime if it’s your only catch of your lifetime?

Regardless, D’Onofrio reeled in a massive black grouper, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department just recently certified the catch in the Junior Angler Division as a new state record. The father and son were out on a charter boat when Dace caught the state-record grouper, which measured out to be 57 inches long and weighed in at almost 77 pounds.

Because the special moment was shared between the son and the father, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department took to their Facebook Page on Father’s day to share the special moment with the world.

The post reads:

“Talk about a memorable first catch!

In honor of Father’s Day we are showcasing Dace D’Onofrio’s record breaking catch which happened with with his father, Michael, when fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. This black grouper weighed 76.55 pounds and measured 57 inches long and earned Dace a Junior State Record, Junior Water Body Record, and a First Fish Award.”

D’Onofrio’s catch was certified by a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist, which is required to verify the species of grouper since there are so many different kinds that live in the Gulf of Mexico. Black grouper are considered a game fish, specifically because they are great for eating and can grow to such large sizes.

Before this state record Black grouper catch, the biggest ever was also recorded in the Gulf off the coast of Texas. And in relation to the state record, D’Onofrio’s catch could be recognized by the International Game Fish Association as a junior world record catch.

The IGFA also has a junior angler category for individuals 16 and under, so D’Onofrio’s 76.55 pound Black grouper could beat out the previous record that was set in the Bahamas in 2009, when another junior angler reeled in a near 35 pound grouper.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock