Pending World Records Emerge from the Calm before the Storm

By Dr. Julie Ball

Hurricane Irene was on her way. There was nothing we could do about that…except go fishing! Landfall was expected Saturday night in Virginia, and Friday morning was gorgeous. Since our trip had been postponed from the weekend before, we were determined to get in some cobia action before it was too late. For some reason, we couldn’t find anyone else to go?

I met Captain Ben Shepherd at Lynnhaven Inlet in Virginia Beach at around 8am. On Ben’s boat “Above Average”, we headed toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The water was slick, and we maybe saw five boats all morning.

We were sight casting for cobia. So I followed Ben up into the tower and started scanning the water. We began to worry a little after not seeing any fish for a good 30-minutes. Ben spotted the first fish, which appeared to be about 50-pounds. Ben swung the boat around while I climbed out of the tower. The fish just hovered by the piling, awaiting my eel. It wasn’t a bad cast, and the fish darted at the bait. I was thinking this is too easy. Next thing I know the cobia turned, and made a hard dash between the pilings and kept going! Uh oh, now what? Ben wasn’t fazed. I loosened the drag and stood on the bow. Ben maneuvered the boat between the pilings while I watched in amazement. Are you kidding me? That was awesome! Not even a bump. We caught up with the fish, and Ben said “Ok, you can fight your fish now.”

Ben netted my cobia. It was a nice fish, so we photographed and measured it for a potential Release Record. That was easier said than done with a peeved cobia! Of course these fish have plenty of attitude and pack a powerful punch. Poor Ben was gentle as he tried to hold the fish still for the length photos, but it had other ideas! We released the fish, and we swore we wouldn’t do that again!

We saw a several fish here and there, mostly smaller, and a few that wouldn’t eat. I never saw the next one until we had passed it. Ben swung around and made two casts before I could get down. He hooked up the cobia and turned the fish so that it followed the boat into safe territory as we drifted into the Bay. He grinned and said, “This is a good fish!” I asked if had caught a citation this year. He said he hadn’t caught one in a long time. So I told him “Go ahead, it’s all you!” I dug for my camera, and Ben slipped down from the tower. I had fun watching Ben run around the boat several times while the cobia proceeded to put a whoopin’ on him.

Ben asked if I was going to net his fish. Net it? I looked at the flounder net he had onboard and then looked at his 80-pound cobia. He saw my glance and said, “It’ll fit.” I must say that it was sorta like playing golf to get that fish’s head into that little net. He did fit, well mostly. Ben helped me pull the net over the side. It was a big fish, about 59-inches. Ben said, let’s measure it for a record. What? That fish is bigger than mine; I thought we weren’t doing that again? Oh well, it WAS bigger. Ok, let’s do it. This time the procedure went much smoother. We had the routine down, and the fish was more cooperative. Another potential record, done.

Ok, let’s catch one more. We cruised for maybe five more minutes, and then we spotted a pair circling a set of pilings. One fish was much larger than the other. Ben set the boat up, but they swam to the other side. Ok, so Ben moved around to the other side of the pilings, and they moved back to the other side. This is going to be fun, I thought. I asked, “Are they still there?” Ben nodded and pointed at the fish. Here goes. My eel began to sink, and I was thinking I was going to need to recast. But then the line came tight, and we were in business. The fish didn’t really do much as Ben backed out from the bridge so I thought it might be the smaller one. That thought didn’t last long. After one good tug on my end, the fish took a dive to the bottom as my drag screamed. I think I’m gonna need my belt.

A boat pulled up to watch as my skills were tested by a big cobia that was not in the mood. Ben said, “That’s a big fish, it’s probably close to 90-pounds!” After several laps, and a few recoveries, the fish began to show signs of slowing up. Ben held up the net in anticipation. The guy in the other boat yelled over, “You want a bigger net?” Of course Ben says “No thanks, it’ll fit.” Great. Maybe it would fit, but the fish wanted no part of the net. Its huge head went in, but not the rest of it! No problem, Ben just reached over and grabbed its tail too, and hoisted my 90-pound cobia into the boat while I gasped wide-eyed! We high-fived, and then sprang into action. Now we were cobia handling pros. Photos, measurements, revived, and released in record time! The fish stretched to 61.5-inches. Now we can go in.

What an exciting, awesome day!

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Brandon Drewry Lands Small-Fry World Record Cobia

Virginia Cobia Record Brandon Drewry

Brandon Drewry

Grafton VA – VBSF wishs 7 year old Brandon Drewry a big congratulation on landing a New Pending World Record Cobia. Brandon landed the fish while fishing on the Chesapeake Bay last weekend.

Dr Ken Neill was called to Grafton Fishing Supply to verify the catch. At 79-pounds Brandon’s cobia catch beats the current Small-Fry World Record by a half pound. The current record holder, Ken Braddy, was there to help weigh the fish.

The paper work is being filled out for a new record application which should result in a new world record cobia.

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North Carolina State Record Queen Trigger Fish

North Carolina State Record Trigger Fish

Fish Certified by N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff and a N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament Advisory Board

MOREHEAD CITY – A Piedmont North Carolina man reeled in a state record queen triggerfish during a recent fishing trip off Wrightsville Beach.

William Timothy Cox of Greensboro caught the 10-pound, 5-ounce fish May 22 at Same Ole Hole, located about 40 miles off Wrightsville Beach. The fish measured 30 inches from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail and had a 23-inch girth.

He was fishing on a private vessel and caught the fish using cut bait on 80-pound line test with a Billfisher Rod and Penn 11414 reel.

This establishes a new state record queen triggerfish; no prior state record existed. To establish a new state record, the fish must be within reasonable range of the world record and exceptionally large for North Carolina, as determined by N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff and a N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament Advisory Board.

The world record queen triggerfish was 14-pounds, 3 ounces, caught off Cancun, Mexico in 2009.




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State Record Fish Committee Confirmes Record 143 LB Blue Catfish and Possible World Record

Second Huge blue catfish from Buggs Island Lake Shatters Three Month Old State Record

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has confirmed that the 143-pound blue catfish caught on June 18, in the John H. Kerr Reservoir, known as Buggs Island Lake, is a new state record. The committee members reviewed the application, verified the location of the catch as well as the species, weight, length, and girth of the fish. A VDGIF Conservation Police Officer and Fisheries Biologist were present at the weigh-in.

The huge cat was caught by Richard Nicholas “Nick” Anderson in John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake) on Saturday, June 18, near the Goat Island section of the lake. The previous state record blue catfish (109 pounds ) was caught by Tony Milam in Buggs Island Lake near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers on March 17, 2011.

Anderson was fishing with his father and brother when he hooked the potential world record fish. After forty-five minutes, the fish was finally wrangled aboard their pontoon boat. The fish was weighed at Mecklenburg Supply Inc. in Chase City, Virginia, which was one of the few venues available with a scale large enough to accommodate the big fish. The weigh-in was witnessed by a VDGIF Conservation Police Officer and a VDGIF Fisheries Biologist.

“It’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen to come out of fresh water” said Dan Michaelson, a VDGIF Fisheries Biologist who certified the species as blue catfish. “Buggs Island Lake is one of the most productive systems in Virginia, and blue catfish take advantage of the four different shad species to feed on, especially the gizzard shad,” Michaelson added. Blue catfish have become one of the most sought after sport fish in the lake in recent years, and Buggs Island has produced three state record blue catfish in the last decade. The tidal James River has also produced its share of big blue cats in recent years, and the two hotspots have traded the state record on more than one occasion.

Along with certification by the Virginia State Record Fish Committee, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) will handle official certification of the trophy blue catfish as a potential new world record. If certified by the IGFA, the Virginia blue catfish will shatter the previous world record, a 130lb blue catfish caught in the Missouri River in 2010.

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Snowy Grouper State Record Broken

New Virginia State Record

Roger Burnley of Virginia Beach, Virginia has established a new state record for snowy grouper with a 70-pound, 7-ounce fish caught May 22, 2011. The record fish was weighed and certified on an Ohaus digital scale at the office of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, located in Newport News. The digital scale registered 70.48 pounds but the weight was converted and listed as 70 pounds and 7-ounces as the state record. The record-setting grouper bested the existing state record, set by Jere Humphrey of Norfolk, Virginia, on August 17, 2008, by nearly 2-1/2 pounds. Burnley is filing an application with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for acceptance of his catch as the IGFA All-Tackle Record for snowy grouper. Humphrey’s 68-pound snowy grouper currently holds the IGFA All-Tackle Record.

Burnley caught his grouper “deep-dropping” near the Norfolk Canyon in 98 fathoms of water while fishing aboard the private boat Healthy Grin, skippered by Ken Neill, III, of Seaford. The fish had a length of 48 inches and a girth of 37 inches. The record fish was caught on a Shimano Trevala rod, mated with a Daiwa Saltist LD40 reel and spooled with 70-pound test Daiwa Saltiga Boat braided line. The record-setting grouper hit a custom made two hook bottom rig baited with squid and cut fish.

Snowy grouper was added to the list of species eligible for state record recognition by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament Committee at their fall meeting in 2006 and carried an initial qualifying weight of 38 pounds. Roger Burnley of Virginia Beach registered Virginia’s first qualifying snowy grouper, at 49 pounds, 9 ounces, on April 29, 2007. Burnley’s record was eclipsed within days, on June 10, 2007, by Bob Manus of Ark, Virginia, with a 65-pound, 8-ounce grouper. Manus’ record status held until Chris Boyce of Hampton caught a 66-pounder later that year December 2007. Boyce’s record grouper lasted for 8 months before Humphrey landed his 68-pounder. The last three fish were later certified as IGFA All-Tackle Records for snowy grouper. The four prior record snowy grouper were caught in the general vicinity of the Norfolk Canyon “deep-dropping” in over 50 fathoms of water and using either whole or cut fish for bait. Additionally, five of the six state record grouper were caught aboard the Healthy Grin skippered by Ken Neill.

Source: Lewis S. Gillingham, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament

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NEW IGFA Alltackle World Record

By Dr. Julie Ball fishing report contributor and IGFA Representative, Virginia Beach

NEW IGFA All Tackle World Record
Alfonsino (Beryx decadactylus)
8lbs 5oz

world record Alfonsino (Beryx decadactylus)

Alfonsino (Beryx decadactylus)

I had the pleasure of notifying Kevin Wong of his newly approved initial IGFA All Tackle World Record today. I’m sure he is now sighing with relief since his record, originally submitted as a Darwin’s Slimehead, was resubmitted as an exotic Alfonsino. “A what?”, is the question I hear from most who ask about the record. Yes, it may be strange looking, and not well known, but to Kevin it is his first world record. And to the World, it is the first Alfonsino world record ever recorded. In addition, Virginia gains yet another World Record.

Kevin caught the fish near the Norfolk Canyon off Virginia Beach on 10 October 2010 aboard the Wave Runner, captained by Michael Meredith

Congratulations to Kevin, captain, and crew on an incredible catch.

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