Graysby grouper added to saltwater records program

Brunswick, Ga.

Justin Bythwood with graysby grouper. DNR photo by Tyler Jones.

The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources today announced Justin Bythwood, 40, of Waycross, has set a new state record for saltwater fishing. 

Bythwood landed a 2-pound, 2.24-ounce graysby grouper (Cephalopholis cruentata) while fishing near Navy Tower R5 on May 12, 2024. This catch marks the first-ever entry of a graysby grouper in the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records Program.

Bythwood, an avid angler and CRD marine technician, was bottom fishing while off-duty aboard the vessel "Long Last" when he hooked the record-setting fish. The CRD verified the weight and species of the grouper, confirming it as a new addition to the state's prestigious record list. The graysby grouper, known for its distinctive appearance, adds a unique element to the variety of species recognized by the state's records program.

"We are excited to have a new species added to our Saltwater Game Fish Records Program," said Tyler Jones, CRD’s public information officer and coordinator of the saltwater records program. "Justin’s catch highlights the diverse marine life found in Georgia's coastal waters and underscores the importance of our ongoing conservation and management efforts."

Georgia DNR congratulates Bythwood on his new record. His achievements will be recognized with a certificate signed by Governor Brian Kemp, DNR Commissioner Walter Rabon, and CRD Director Doug Haymans. His name will also be featured in the next Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations Guide and online at as long as his record stands.

DNR reminds all anglers to follow best practices for ethical and responsible fishing, including proper handling and release of fish that are not intended for consumption. Tools like descending devices can help reduce barotrauma in deep-water fishes and improve their chance of survival after being released. For information on descending devices and other best fishing practices, visit the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's webpage at

Anglers in Georgia are required to have a valid recreational fishing license, free Saltwater Information Permit (SIP), and to follow size and possession limits for various species. State saltwater record program rules and regulations can be found at

About the Coastal Resources Division

The mission of the Coastal Resources Division is to balance coastal development and protection of the coast's natural assets, socio-cultural heritage and recreational resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Media Contact

Tyler Jones
Public Information Officer
Coastal Resources Division
Georgia Department of Natural Resources

 Visit graysby grouper records page