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Fleming angler catches record little tunny

POSTED: May 15, 2017 7:00 p.m.
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Dusty Blackburn of Fleming holds up the record-setting little tunny that he caught May 4.

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BRUNSWICK — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced Friday that a men’s record for the heaviest little tunny, Euthynnus alletteratus, has been set by angler Dusty Blackburn of Fleming.

On May 4, Blackburn caught a 22-pound 1-ounce little tunny in the Gulfstream 70 nautical miles east of Ossabaw Island. Once boated, the fish appeared large enough to challenge the state record. The fish was taken to DNR Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery where biologists verified the species and determined an accurate weight.

Blackburn’s catch breaks the former little tunny record shared by John Smits of Allenhurst, who tied the then-current men’s state record with a 19-pound, 4-ounce catch in 2010 and Jerry Duncan Sr. of Dublin, 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. So 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. It is probably the most common tuna in the Western Atlantic and is a popular sportfish and occurs in large schools. However, it is not considered good to eat.

A listing of the rules and current records can be found at www.CoastalGADNR.org, 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.

Anglers wishing to enter a fish for a 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. During business hours, anglers can have their catch weighed at the Coastal Regional Headquarters in Brunswick. For information, call the Coastal Resources Division at 912-264-7218.

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