Donald C. Vautrinot

New record for longest lionfish speared in the Gulf of Mexico set in Destin, FL

Donald C. Vautrinot

In September, 4,640 lionfish were caught during the Emerald Coast Open Pre-tournament in Destin, FL.

Now, a new state record has been made for the longest lionfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico with a spear.

Donald C. Vautrinot was spearfishing for red snapper off Destin on Oct. 18 when he went back down to snag a few lionfish, according to the FWC.

“I saw a monster lionfish and immediately knew I wanted to measure it,” Vautrinot said. “I got really excited because I knew the Gulf record was around 18 inches but I didn’t know exactly and we didn’t have a cell signal to check it out there.”

Once back at shore, they took it to Okaloosa County coastal resource manager Alex Fogg for an official measurement. Fogg confirmed, at 18.19 inches (462 mm), Vautrinot was the new Florida state record holder for longest lionfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

Alex Fogg and Donald C. Vautrinot

“I was pretty excited and messaged my wife the news right away,” said Vautrinot.

Vautrinot beat the former Gulf of Mexico record of 18.07 inches, caught off Escambia County and held by Joshua Falkner.

Vautrinot’s Gulf record is still shy of the overall state record of 18.78 inches (477 mm) caught by Capt. Jimmy Nelson in 2015 in the Atlantic off Islamorada.

FWC has organized a state records program for invasive lionfish in three divisions:

  • Spearing
  • Hook and line
  • Junior harvester (under 16 years of age)

Divisions are also separated by lionfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean.

Donald C. Vautrinot

Shooter: Donald (Don) Voutrinot
Date: 10/18/2020
Where: public artificial reef offshore Destin – Fort Walton Beach
Length: 462mm (previous record 459mm).

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