The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced today that a new men's record for the heaviest little tunny, Euthynnus alletteratus, has been set by angler Dusty Blackburn of Fleming, GA.
On May 4, Blackburn caught a 22-pound 1-ounce little tunny while fishing in the Gulfstream 70 nautical miles east of Ossabaw Island. Once boated, the fish appeared large enough to challenge the current state record. The fish was brought to DNR Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery where biologists verified the species and determined an accurate weight.
Blackburn’s catch breaks the current little tunny record shared by angler John Smits of Allenhurst, GA who tied the then-current men’s state record with a 19-pound, 4-ounce catch in 2010 and Jerry Duncan, Sr. of Dublin, Georgia, whose 1997 catch weighed 19-pounds, 3-ounces. According to the Gamefish Record Program rules, for fish under 20 pounds, the record must be bested by 4-ounces of more, and therefore Smits catch was classified as a tie.
Little tunny are one of 39 species in the mackerel family that includes king, Spanish and cero mackerel, yellowfin and bluefin tunas and skipjack. They are often confused with Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, but little tunny have 4-5 dark spots below the pectoral fin that are not present on the bonito. Little tunny range from Massachusetts to Brazil, usually offshore. It is probably the most common tuna in the Western Atlantic and is a popular sportfish and occurs in large schools. However, unlike many tuna species it is not considered good table fare.
A listing of the rules and current men's and women's records can be found at the following link State Records, along with information on how to submit a fish for consideration. In addition to an accurate weight, it's important to provide several photographs of the fish along with the application. There are also minimum weights for several species.
Anglers wishing to enter a fish for a new state record must be sure to have the fish weighed on a Georgia Department of Agriculture certified scale in the presence of at least one witness. Anglers should first check with local seafood markets then grocery stores and feed-and-seed stores. During business hours, anglers can have their catch weighed at the Coastal Regional Headquarters in Brunswick. For more information, contact the Coastal Resources Division at (912) 264-7218.