Break Out the Scale: Red Grouper Destroys Georgia Records

by Matthew Memrick

Officials knew when they broke out the scale that one mammoth Red Grouper destroyed Georgia fishing records.

According to DNR officials, Kingsland man Bruce Bartlett caught a 26-pound, 6.4-ounce red grouper for the new state record. Bartlett caught the fish on his boat, Fishslaya Duece, near Navy Tower R4 in the Atlantic Ocean. The fish measured at 34.5 inches.

John Wren took the previous record was for 19 pounds, 7 ounces in 2012.

For the record, Bartlett gets a certificate signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. His feat will also go in the 2022 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations guidebook. The record-breaking mark is among other state records online at  

Georgia Officials Impressed

DNR Coastal Resources Division director Doug Haymans credited Bartlett’s experience in such a fine red grouper catch.

Haymans oversees the state’s Saltwater Gamefish Record program.

“This achievement recognizes not only the size of the catch, but Mr. Bartlett’s skill as an angler and the sportsmanship displayed in landing a record-setting gamefish,” Haymans said.

The fisherman caught the red grouper with his 5-foot, 8-inch Ugly Stik Tiger Road. 

Bartlett has a Shimano Torium reel with a 65-pound Power Pro line. He used a live cigar minnow to land the catch.

Notably, his terminal rig was a fish finder sinker slide with an 8-ounce bank sinker to a 100-pound barrel swivel. He also used a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader and 6/0 Eagle Claw circle hook.

The catch was weighed at M & A Seafood Market on North Lee Street in Kingsland on scales certified by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. 

The Saltwater Gamefish Records Committee, comprised of DNR marine biologists and staff, approved the new record on Oct. 15.

What’s The U.S. Record?

A North Carolina man caught a 35-pound, 11-ounce red grouper on June 10. 2017. Robert L. Dean was 43 miles off Carolina Beach, N.C. He was on the Cheerio Lady charter boat.

The fish came in at 37 inches in length and had a circumference of 37 inches. According to WECT, Dean got the record using cigar minnows and squid for bait on an 80-pound line test with a custom rod and Penn 3/0 reel.

The WECT article mentioned that the world record for red grouper is 42 pounds, 4 ounces. Officials said the fish came from the coast of St. Augustine, Fla., in 1997.

Bartlett’s fish prize came near another massive grouper catch.

According to Sport Fishing Magazine, an angler caught a 680-pound goliath grouper at Fernandina Beach, Florida, on May 20, 1961. The fish was certified as an IGFA world record. The fisher used a Spanish mackerel as fish bait in his majestic catch.

This particular species of grouper is endangered today and protected in the United States and the Caribbean.