The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has recognized two outstanding catches as state records. Louis Guzman of Clayton caught a 48 pound Gag Grouper off Morehead City on May 24 and Mark Davis of Lexington, S.C. caught a 12 pound, five ounce Gray (Mangrove Snapper) off Ocean Isle Beach on June 14. Davis’s gray snapper will be the original N.C. state record for gray snapper and Guzman’s catch will raise the existing gag grouper record.
A spokesman for DMF said a fish must meet certain criteria to establish a state record. This begins with a DMF biologist positively identifying the fish as the species claimed. Then a board of DMF biologists and other staffers interview the fisherman, examine the method of catch and make a determination the fish is exceptionally large and worthy of establishing the record. The fish is compared to the world record and the state records of neighboring states. Potential records are also judged as to be a fish that is expected to be caught off N.C. or a unique visit. After the fish has been vetted by the DMF board, the information is sent to a committee of anglers from across the state for their approval.
Davis’s gray snapper represents itself well. The International Game Fish Association world record is 18 pounds, 10 ounces for a fish caught off Louisiana in 2015. The South Carolina record is a 12 pound, 12 ounce fish caught off Little River in 2015. Virginia does not have a gray snapper state record.
Davis’s fish measured 28.94 inches total length (tip of nose to tip of tail) and was 18.9 inches in girth. He was using a live menhaden for bait while fishing a Penn Carnage International 12 VSX rod and reel combo that was spooled with 65 pound braid line. The fish was weighed at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach.
Davis is the host of BigWater Adventures on the Outdoor Network and this fish was caught while filming a show that will air during the 2019 series. That date has not yet been determined. Davis was fishing with Capt. Steve “Boomer” Montgomery and Nick Palombi of Salt Fever Guide Service.
Guzman’s big gag weighed 48 pounds, which is 12 ounces heavier than the record it broke. It was 45.25 inches total length (tip of nose to tip of tail) and had a 29.62 inch girth. He was fishing a live bait on a Shakespeare Ugly Stik Custom USCB 1170-M rod and a Truth SG reel spooled with 30 pound Berkley Big Game monofilament line. The fish was weighed at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach.
The record Guzman broke was 47.25 pounds, set by Breece Gahl off Wrightsville Beach in 2017. The International Game Fish Association all tackle world record for gag grouper is 80 pounds, 6 ounces and was caught of Florida in 1993.
NOTE: Several larger gag grouper have been caught this year, but all were caught using electric reels, which is not allowed for record consideration.