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A 50.1-pound blackfin tuna caught during the Miami Dolphins’ annual FINS Weekend charity tournament in Coconut Grove, Florida, earned angler Bob Kowalski a $30,000 prize and a shot at an International Game and Fish Association all-tackle world record.

Kowalski was fishing with longtime tourney participant Pete Sinnick and family aboard the Miss Britt Express on June 1 when he hooked the tuna. Sinnick, a diehard Dolphins fan who says he’s entered 21 of the 25 Fins tournaments, was fighting a 100-pound sailfish when Kowalski hooked up. “I just wanted to get out of the way so he could land the meat fish,” Sinnick said during a videotaped interview with tournament organizers.

“He had a sailfish, I had the blackfin tuna, and she [Sinnick’s wife] had a mahi-mahi on all at the same time,” Kowalski added. “So it was quite a coordinated dance in the back of the boat.”

A potential world-record blackfin tuna on the board of a saltwater pier.
Kowalski’s blackfin weighed 50.1 pounds, just shy of a pound more than the current all-tackle world record. Courtesy of Blue Water Movements/Miami Dolphins Foundation.

Blackfins are among the smallest tuna species but are highly prized by recreational anglers for their fight and their excellence as table fare. They feed on a larger range of prey than most tuna, including deep-sea fish, flying fish, shrimp, crab, and squid. Blackfins are found throughout the western Atlantic, concentrated mostly from North Carolina to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, with scattered records as far north as Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Kowalski’s catch landed his team in first place in the Heaviest Fish Overall Division along with first place in the Heaviest Tuna Division, earning a $30,000 payout in addition to the shot at the world record.

The IGFA all-tackle mark for the species is a 49-pound, 6-ounce blackfin caught on April 6, 2006, by Capt. Matthew Pullen in Marathon Florida. If paperwork is submitted for Kowalski’s catch, it should surpass that record. It would also be the second new blackfin mark for the IGFA in the last year: In April 2023, Cheyenne Joseph set a new women’s record for the species, boating a 40-pound blackfin that retired a 41-year record.

Jimmy Johnson and a group of saltwater fishing tournament anglers show of a potential world-record blackfin tuna
Former Dolphins’ head coach Jimmy Johnson was on hand to help celebrate the catch. Courtesy of Blue Water Movements/Miami Dolphins Foundation.

FINS Weekend, run by Bluewater Movements, brings together Dolphins players, coaches, alumni, cheerleaders, and fans to raise funds for the Baptist Health Orthopedic Institute Youth Athletic Outreach Program, which supports youth and high school athletics across South Florida. Through the program, athletic trainers are deployed to youth and high school football games, ensuring the safety and well-being of young athletes. The fundraiser was started in 1997 by former Dolphins head coach and NFL hall-of-famer Jimmy Johnson, who was on hand to witness the weigh-in of the potential world record—a first in the tournament’s history.