Florida fisherman hooks, lands jumbo grouper

Spend any time talking salt water fishing and you quickly become aware of the “big ‘uns,” those deep-water behemoths that are the stuff of legends but almost never end up on the end of your line.

Earlier this month Brandon Lee Van Horn of Panama City, Fla., was finally able to stop dreaming and start bragging.

The longtime commercial fisherman, who began fishing on his grandfather’s charter boat at age 8, landed a 330-pound Warsaw grouper on Oct. 1. He caught the monster in 375 feet of water after a 25-minute fight to bring it to the surface.

“You have no idea how much that fish means to me,” he told the Panama City News Herald. “I will probably never catch another one that big ever again.”

Van Horn, who fishes for a “little bit of everything,” mostly seeks out smaller species like vermillion snapper. Bigger fish such as Warsaw groupers can be difficult to land because they often break off or straighten out hooks once they’ve taken the bait, he told the paper.

Warsaw groupers are among the biggest fish found in the Gulf of Mexico, growing up to eight feet in length and nearly 600 pounds. Van Horn missed the Florida state record by more than 100 pounds, to a 436-pound giant caught in 1985 off Destin, but he was still pretty pleased with his day.

“I will probably never, ever catch one in my life this big ever again,” he said. “Definitely a fish of a lifetime.”

(Top: Brandon Lee Van Horn shows off his 330-pound Warsaw grouper in Panama City, Fla.)

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Englishman lands 12-foot, 1,100-pound sturgeon

A 65-year-old Englishman fishing in British Columbia recently hooked a 12-foot-long white sturgeon weighing approximately 1,100 pounds, a catch one expert called among the largest ever recorded in North America.

Michael Snell and his wife Margaret were fishing the Fraser River with a guide early on the afternoon on July 16 when he saw the tip of his rod dip. An hour-and-a-half long fight ensued.

Snell played the fish down the river where his guide maneuvered the sturgeon and the boat to shore, according to the Global Post.

“When we picked her head up out of the water, it was almost three feet wide,” Michael Snell said. “I never knew a fish could be that large.”

The fish was estimated to be at least 100 years old, guide Dean Werk said.

“I’ve been a professional fishing guide on the Fraser for 25 years and I’ve never seen a sturgeon this big,” Werk added.

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