Pending World-Record Blackfin Tuna Caught in Florida Tournament

by Vern Evans

Most record-class fish are caught without much fanfare, but the pending world-record blackfin tuna caught in Florida on Saturday is an exception. The tuna, which weighed a hair over 50 pounds, was landed during Fins Weekend, an annual fundraiser tournament held by the Miami Dolphins. In addition to being a pending world record, the fish took first place in the heaviest tuna division and earned the team a $30,000 payout.

Several NFL celebrities were there to witness the weigh-in, and an Instagram video shows the reaction from former Dolphins head coach and hall-of-famer Jimmy Johnson. The team congratulated angler Bob Kowalski, who caught the tuna, in another social media post.  

Kowalski was fishing with Pete Sinnick and his family aboard the Miss Britt, a 34-foot charter boat captained by Gareth Haddam. Although they’re from Chicago, Sinnick told CBS News that the family has been attending the annual Dolphins tournament for decades.

“It started with my wife and I, then it expanded to my dad and my sons,” Sinnick said. “I grew up a die-hard Dolphins fan and I guess I made some impressions on them to be fans as well.”

Now in its 25th year, Fins Weekend is a two-day celebration of fishing and football that brings together players, fans, alumni, and others — with the proceeds going to a local athletic outreach program led by the Baptist Health Orthopedic Institute. Tournament organizer Bluewater Movements called this year’s event “historic” as it was the first time in tournament history that a potential world-record fish had been caught. Kowalski’s blackfin was certified by a biologist with the International Game Fish Association, according to the organizer.

Read Next: Giant, 888-Pound Tuna Is the Largest Ever Caught off Florida Coast

The IGFA record book has not yet been updated to show this, but Kowalski’s blackfin should set a new world record in the all-tackle division after the proper paperwork is submitted. The No. 1 spot is currently held by a 49-pound 6-ounce tuna caught in Florida waters in 2006. At 50.1 pounds, Kowalski’s fish is 11 ounces heavier than that tuna, and IGFA regulations dictate that any fish replacing a world record must weigh at least two to three ounces more than the current record.   

Blackfin tuna are one of smaller members of the tuna family, and they typically weigh in the 15 to 25 range. (Bluefin tuna, by comparison, can easily surpass 1,000 pounds.) They’re still highly sought after and considered great table fare by most saltwater anglers. These fish often school in large numbers near the surface, and they can be found throughout the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts down to Brazil.

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