BRADENTON (FOX 13) - Talk about a big fish story, and this one is not exaggerated one little bit! Tony Panipinto just caught a whopper, a Warsaw Grouper. It weighed in at 347 pounds.
"I have been sworn to secrecy about what kind of bait we used," said Panipinto. He wanted to keep his technique under wraps as well, only saying that he used heavy tackle.
Panipinto helped his team, the "Jumbo Shrimp," win the Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament recently. It was the biggest fish of its kind in the 33-year history of the competition.
At first, the crewmembers thought Panipinto's line was caught on the bottom of the gulf. When they figured out what was going on, the fight was a big one. It took half an hour to reel the monster in. When they got it next to the boat they couldn't lift it in until they came up with the idea of a special makeshift pulley.
The grouper catapulted the Jumbo Shrimp to win the tourney. Along with bragging rights, they took home a $10,000 cash prize.
They donated the grouper to a fish house, which means a lot of people will be eating grouper sandwiches for months to come.