Giant Bluefin Tuna Caught on Florida Keys Reef

A bluefin tuna estimated at 600 pounds has been caught and released in shallow water off Islamorada

Giant bluefin tuna caught on Florida Keys reef
Released at the boat, this surprise giant bluefin tuna turned an outing for king mackerel into the fishing trip of a lifetime for a group of anglers off Islamorada.Courtesy of the Kalex

A group of anglers on a day charter to catch king mackerel off Islamorada with Capt. Alex Adler on the Kalex out of Bud 'n Marys Fishing Marina ended up battling a bluefin tuna estimated to weigh 600 pounds, releasing it at the boat after a 2 ½-hour battle. The fish was hooked in about 50 feet of water on the reef.

This capture, on Feb. 10, of a bluefin tuna on a Florida Keys reef is unheard of in recent times, says Andy Newman, media relations director for Florida Keys Tourism Council, who was at the dock when the Kalex returned.

“Adler has been seeing packs of bluefin running over the reef line for a couple of weeks,” Newman tells SF. “He had the good sense to have a rigged mackerel in the boat’s freezer. After seeing a couple packs of big bluefin today, maybe 100 fish, Adler told mate Rich Hill to get the mackerel out.”

Hill connected it to a tuna-worthy rod (not kingfish gear), Adler dropped it back into the fish, and “immediately one of them crashed the hell out of it!” says Newman.

The bluefin had to be released, being out of season, but Newman says when the anglers came off the boat, they were ecstatic.

He adds that he would guess Adler will have a rigged tuna bait out with him in the future, and he probably won’t be the only one when word of this catch spreads.