For some, fishing is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors. And if something decides to take the bait, even better.
For others, fishing is more than just a fun way to pass the time. It is a way to achieve personal goals or enhance the inherent adventure.
Sometimes those catches – both when an angler has a well-laid plan for a specific fishing target and when a random fish takes a random offering – wind up as a fishing record. Martin County waters are home to numerous fishing records. Some are state records while others are world records. Here are five of Martin County’s most interesting record catches.
Bluefish, 22 pounds, 2 ounces. Liz Yates was surf fishing in Jensen Beach in 1973 when she had a hit that nearly ripped the rod out of her hand. After she reeled it in she realized it was the biggest bluefish anyone she knew in Martin County had ever seen. It was later recognized by Florida’s Fish and Game Commission as a state record.
Spanish mackerel, 10 pounds, 8 ounces. There are several line class records set locally for this delicious fish caught in Martin County waters and the state record, 12 pounds, was caught nearby in Fort Pierce. Here, Ronald Skelton caught his 10-1/2 pounder on 12-pound test line in the St. Lucie River in March of 1999 to hold the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) line class world record for the species.
Snook, 31 pounds, 8 ounces. Stuart could be nicknamed Snook Central for all the great snook fishing found here. In fact, anglers can catch four different snook species in Martin County waters, one of the only places in the world that is possible. Several IGFA line class records were set here. One of the most notable records was set by Bram Broder fishing from a beach on the east side of Sewall’s Point on July 4, 1996. While using light line, he knew immediately he hooked up to a beast, and wondered if he would get the fish in without it breaking the line. It wound up weighing 31 pounds, 8 ounces and was recognized as the IGFA men’s 8-pound test record. The best part? Broder released it alive.
African pompano, 50 pounds. John Flowers caught a massive African pompano on a shallow reef offshore of St. Lucie Inlet in March 2000. He used 20-pound test line meaning his catch was 2-1/2 times heavier than the line class he caught it on.
Blue tilapia, 9 pounds, 9 ounces. Not all record catches set in Martin County waters are saltwater catches. Pamela Henry caught a freshwater fish not native to Florida in the South Fork of the St. Lucie River in August of 2010. When she looked up the species, blue tilapia, she learned the angling records for the State of Florida and the IGFA for the species were vacant. She certified the catch, sent in all the documentation, and later was awarded both the IGFA All-Tackle Record and Florida State Record certificates for the species. She also had the fish mounted by New Wave Taxidermy located in Stuart.
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So the next time you’re wetting a line or soaking a shrimp in Martin County waters, don’t be surprised if what you reel in is one of the biggest of its species ever caught.