Alabama Man Cuts Up Massive Bonito Fish Into Shark Bait Having No Idea He Reeled in a State Record

by Michael Freeman

Catching a trophy fish in and of itself is a feat. However, how would you feel if you caught one big enough to break a state record and didn’t know it? An Alabama fisherman did, and what’s more, unknowingly cut the record-breaking bonito into shark bait.

Kayle Davis participated in the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo earlier this summer. Targeting tuna and looking for fish to cut into shark bait for the tournament, he caught several large bonito. However, unknown to Davis and the crew, one of the bonito was a new state record in size. Davis recollected what happened.

“I was fishing for blackfin tuna in 1,200 feet of water. It was not the location I normally go fishing. I’m only on a 21-foot boat. I pushed 74 miles out. I go out a little farther, and we got into a good school of bonito. We were catching them in varying sizes, some like that one that turned out to be the new state record. We were cutting them in half to freeze them for bait. We decided to keep that one to turn in at the rodeo. We had no idea we had a state record on board.”

After checking it into the rodeo, one of Davis’ friends reached out to him, informing him it was a new state record. Despite cutting the fish into bait, biologists with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources could still verify the record. Weighing 22-pounds 4-ounces, the bonito broke the previous 21-pound record set in 1956.

Unfortunately, Davis kept the fish in the cooler for 36-hours before he was able to weigh it. Doing so likely dried it out a little and made the bonito slightly lighter.

Texas Angler Catches Huge Hammerhead Shark From Pickup Truck Bed

While not a record-breaking bonito, a Texas angler had her own adventure last week. Fishing from a pickup truck bed, Jen Merchant caught a huge hammerhead shark.

With her personal bio saying she “grew up running limb lines for catfish & frog gigging the lakes and creeks of East Texas,” Merchant is no stranger to angling. Her array of catches include redfish, tarpon, black drum, stingray, mackerel, trout, and sharks. Speaking of sharks, her battle with the hammerhead last nearly an hour before Merchant reeled it in. Talking to MySA, she revealed her enthusiasm for the feat.

“I was stoked. I’ve been trying to get one over 10 feet for a while. It was definitely satisfying to finally achieve my personal best. I couldn’t have done it without Tim Merchant and Dustin Hickey there to help every step of the way.”

Measuring the shark at 11-feet and 6-inches, Merchant released the shark back into the ocean. Joined by a friend and her husband, the group went on to retrieve DNA samples and remove hooks from other fish in the area for the remainder of the day.