Destin freediver breaks record for largest snapper caught with pole spear


Snapper diver

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DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Beating a world record can be quite a feat, but breaking your own world record is even sweeter.

Destin resident and free diver Skye Bailey did that Wednesday afternoon by beating her own women’s world record for the largest red snapper caught on a pole spear.

The snapper, caught near Destin, weighed in at 16.5 lbs. and 29 inches long, beating her previous record of 15.2 pounds, which was set in 2018.

Bailey says when she brought the snapper to the surface, she didn’t think it would be a record.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know. It doesn’t look that big.’ (The people I was with) were all super excited, and I was like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know guys,’” Bailey said. “We walked up to the Harbor Walk Marina and they weighed it for us and everyone was freaking out. I still can’t believe it.”

When Bailey spotted the snapper under water in the Choctawhatchee Bay near Destin, it was swimming near an artificial reef.

Bailey took her shot with her pole spear, but the shot didn’t stick after hitting its spine. She then came back up for a breath, confused initially as to why the spear didn’t stick.

Her husband, Kyle, dove back down into the water and found the snapper injured and still in the same area.

“He comes up yelling, ‘Dive now! Dive now!” Bailey said. “It’s really hard to take a deep breath when your adrenaline is pumping. So, I dove back down looking for (the fish). He was around the other side of the wreck, and he was just kind of not swimming very well. So, I put another shot in him and pulled him to the surface.”

Bailey said she started free diving in 2014, after being experiencing SCUBA diving with her husband. Her passion for it grew, especially with spear fishing.

The sport can be dangerous. WKRG News 5 published a story Wednesday about a man caught on a hook while SCUBA diving and spear fishing near Orange Beach.

But Bailey says it’s a lot of fun and a sport women should try out.

“There aren’t a lot of women who do this, and a lot times, this is a sport women can truly be equal to men withholding our breath, diving and shooting fish,” she said. “I’d say definitely take a free diving class if you’re interested in it.”

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