Rustin Musgrove’s 20-year chase to land a state-record black drum or redfish may have come up short so far, but the long-running quest did lead the dedicated angler to another potential record-setting fish, a 17-pound 8-ounce bluefish caught Jan. 26 near Orange Beach that is now the pending Alabama state record.
Musgrove caught the bluefish on a Friday evening and was unable to find a certified scale until Monday morning, according to a report on the Orange Beach Area Community Website. He kept the fish on ice until he could weigh it at the Alabama Marine Resources Office in Gulf Shores. His catch topped by 4 ounces the standing bluefish record, a 17-pound, 4-ounce fish caught by Alicia Walimaa on June 5, 2004.
Musgrove was targeting redfish with a Carolina Rig baited with a frozen finger mullet when the bluefish hit. He reported that the fish took about 1,000 feet of line before he was able to turn it, then jumped out of the water twice as he reeled it in. Musgrove was fishing on the bottom near Perdido Pass just after dark.
He has caught his personal-best pompano (18 ½ inches) and redfish (40 inches) using the productive technique—and now a personal and state-best bluefish as well. The pending state record is subject to approval by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Record Fish Committee.
The bluefish, which was estimated to be 12 to 14 years old, measured more than 37 inches long—nearly as big as the IGFA world record, a 39-inch specimen caught near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1972. That IGFA all-tackle record fish weighed 31 pounds, 12 ounces.