Sarasota-based Fishing Captain Jason Boyll and five friends ended 2019 in record fashion – catching a 350 lb. Warsaw Grouper and estimated to be 50-plus years old, according to biologists from FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute.
“Biologists from FWRI’s Age & Growth Lab estimated the age of this fish at 50 years old, making this the oldest sample collected for our ageing program,” the FWC said. “Acquiring the otolith from this fish was extremely valuable as samples from larger and older fish are rare.
”Otoliths are the hard structures located behind the brain of bony fishes, according to the FWC. They help fish hear, maintain balance and orient themselves. Scientists use the growth structure of otoliths to estimate a fish’s age.
Social media hasn’t been kind to Boyll likening his prize catch to trophy hunting. However, he has a very different perspective. “The first call I made was to the FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute,” said Boyll.“The research these scientists can do will help everyone better understand the environmental impact on fish and what we need to do to preserve their habitat.”
“Then, of course, the amount of meals and people this fish will feed is quite extensive.,” continued Boyll. “It has already been fileted and is ready for consumption.”
Boyll is also using his newly found media status and platform to promote a non-profit group he started, Suncoast Marine Research.
“Suncoast Marine Research is aimed at creating a network to connect recreational fishermen and biological studies in need of data and samples” said Boyll. “We are trying to create something that will encourage commercial and recreational fishermen to donate their catches to research.” The website address for Suncoast Marine Research is suncoastmarineresearch.com.
Captain Boyll caught the massive fish using hook and line at a water depth of 600 feet. He was using Bonita for bait. It took, Boyll and his five friends nearly 45 minutes to get the fish on board the boat.
Boyll’s record-catch isn’t the largest Warsaw Grouper ever caught. A 436-pound Warsaw Grouper was caught in December of 1985 off the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. The largest fish on the list is a 680-pound Goliath Grouper that was caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in May 1961.
Boyll is a US Marine and USCG Captain for hire at So/nar Fishing based out of Sarasota, Florida.