Three N.C. Fishing Records Fall During June
Two World Records Pending
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver
Two N.C. state fishing records have fallen in the month of June, with another pending. The big fish from one of the records recognized by N.C. is also pending as not just one, but two, IGFA World Records. While some species are currently in downturns, there are some bright spots in fishing in the Tar Heel state. These are several of them. Congratulations to all the anglers.
Benson Teen Catches 117.5 Pound Blue Catfish
Landon Evans of Benson is a teenager that really likes to fish and especially for catfish. His diligence, knowledge and effort were rewarded on June 11 when he landed a huge 117.5 pound blue catfish that smashed the N.C. record by 12.5 pounds. As if the feat wasn’t difficult enough on its own, Evans added the difficulty factor of doing it from a dock.
This is the third state record catfish caught in Lake Gaston in six months. The record Evans broke was set by Lake Gaston guide Zakk Royce in December. Evans said Royce has helped him with his catfishing skills and was a big help getting this fish certified as the N.C. state record. Evans has also submitted applications to the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) for the Junior Angler Blue Catfish World Record and the 30 Pound Line Cass World Record.
Evans felt good about fishing the night of June 11 because he had caught a gizzard shard to use for bait and they are considered excellent baits. He was fishing a catfish outfit on one side of the dock with a Carolina rig on a bass rod on the other. As many big fish seem to have the knowledge to do, the big catfish hit the bait on the lighter Rapala bass rod with a Shimano Catala 300 reel and 30 pound Suffix line.
Evans said he has caught a fair number of 30 to 40 pound catfish from this same dock and he knew immediately this fish was larger. After fighting it a while, it came to the surface and rolled and he realized it was larger than the 50 to 60 pounds he was thinking.
Evans called for someone to help him net the fish. His mother came first and then his father. He would need both.
When the fish finally rolled up beside the dock, his parents netted it from both ends just as the seriously overmatched rod broke. His dad pulled the hoops of the nets together, but couldn’t pull the fish onto the dock. With the help of young Evans and his Mon, they finally rolled the big catfish onto the dock. The estimate of the fish’s weight increased again.
The next step was to try to weigh it on a set of 100 pound digital scales. The Evans family couldn’t get the big fish all the way off the ground and still got readings of 103 and 106 pounds. Landon Evans knew the state record was 105 pounds and if these scales were anywhere near accurate, his fish should weigh more.
They hastily rigged a kiddie pool and aerator to try to keep the fish alive overnight so they could weigh it the next day. Unfortunately it didn’t survive, but that made it easier to handle, even though they didn’t have a cooler large enough to hold it.
The next morning Landon Evans and his dad packed the catfish in their largest cooler and wrapped the exposed tail in wet towels, to head out to find scales to weigh it. That was easier said than done. They found a scale at Holly Grove Marina on the Virginia side of the lake and the fish weighed 120 pounds on their non certified scales, but they needed certified N.C. scales..
At this point Evans called the current record holder, Royce, and asked for advice. He said Royce was very helpful and also congratulated him on his catch. Evans downloaded the state record application and began trying to contact a biologist.
it was Monday morning before Evans was able to talk with Evans Cartabiano, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Biologist for the area. They met at the Ace Hardware in Littleton where Cartabiano examined the fish and witnessed the weighing on the propane scales for the store. Interestingly enough, this is where Royce’s record had been weighed and Cartabiano was the certifying biologist on it too.
It took a few days for all the paperwork to be processed, but Landon Evans now holds the N.C. state record for blue catfish at 117.5 pounds. This weight surpassed the IGFA Junior World Record (109 pounds) by 8.5 pounds and the 30 Pound Line Class Record (111 pounds) by 6.5 pounds. The application and certification process for IGFA world records is a bit more complex than for the state record, but they have been submitted and Evans hopes to hear they have been approved soon.
Brandon Evans, Landon’s father said he was really proud of his son and while finding certified scales with enough capacity and a biologist to verify the species had been a bit frustrating at times, he was really glad they had seen the process through. He also laughed as he said he thought the catfish also deserved a record for the most miles traveled in a truck as they rode it around for a day and a half getting everything done correctly.
Evans’ catfish was 55 inches long and 40.5 inches in girth. Following the widely accepted formula for approximating weight of using girth squared, multiplied by length, and divided by 800, this computes to 112.767 pounds, which is within 5 percent of its actual weight of 117.5 pounds.
Savvy catfish anglers are now wondering if N.C. might have a new trophy fishery for blue catfish. This is the third state record blue catfish caught in Lake Gaston in six months. It seems pretty obvious some big cats live there.
Valdese Angler Breaks Skipjack Tuna Record
When Tim Street of Valdese made the long drive to Hatteras in late May, he hoped to come home with a cooler full of dolphin, wahoo and tuna fillets. He accomplished that well and also returned with a pending state record for skipjack tuna. Street fished with Capt. Rom Whitaker on the Release on May 24 and landed a 32.5 pound skipjack tuna that was a half pound heavier than the current record caught in 2014 by Matthew Kelly.
This was Street’s first offshore fishing trip and it took two tries to get it done. The first attempt in 2015 had been blown out and they weren’t able to reschedule until this year.
The dolphin bite was in full swing, with a few tuna and wahoo around. They caught dolphin in spades – 32 of them to be exact, including one big bull that weighed 48 pounds. They also caught and released a blue marlin Capt. Whitaker estimated at 150 pounds and a sailfish. The record skipjack was indeed the icing atop an already delicious cake.
Street was on the reel when a pair of tuna hit. The other one ran a little longer, but pulled the hook. Capt. Whitaker said he thought they were 50 pound class yellowfins the way they were running.
With his son and friends offering encouragement and Release mate Andy Trant giving directions, Street stayed on the reel and cranked, even though his muscles were screaming. Street finally led the tuna to the transom where Trant gaffed it and slung it over the rail and onto the cockpit deck.
Everyone was surprised at the fight in a fish of this size. Capt. Whitaker and Trant were surprised it wasn’t a fat yellowfin. It was fat, but not the species they expected to see. Both said it was by far the largest skipjack they had ever seen.
Whitaker said most of the skipjacks they caught were in the 10 pound range and this one was much , much larger and they should weigh it. Once they were close enough to land to have cell phone service, Street’s son checked on his phone to find the state record was the 32 pounder caught by Matthew Kelly in 2014. All thought Street’s fish would be close to that and might weigh more.
There was a big marlin hanging in the scales at Hatteras Harbor Marina with lots of people taking their pictures with it and Street had to wait a while for marina staff to lower the marlin and weigh his fish. He admitted to getting antsy during the wait as he was wondering how much weight it had lost since being caught.
When the scales settled at 32.5 pounds Street and his friends gave a collective sigh and a celebratory yell. Street said it was a good feeling.
Capt. Whitaker said they had moved off the break to deeper water when the skipjack hit an outrigger bait and began taking line like a much larger fish. Just a few seconds later, something hit the other long rigger and took off too. He said both headed down and he thought it might be a pair of yellowfins. He didn’t think something running that hard would be a skipjack.
Street’s skipjack was recognized as the state record on June 21. It was 37 inches long to the fork of its tail and 25 inches in girth. The tuna hit a ballyhoo rigged into a blue and white sea witch on a wind on leader of 25 feet of 80 pound fluorocarbon ending at an 8/0 Mustad 7691 welded eye tuna hook. The reel was a Penn 70 International loaded with 80 pound line and mounted on a Penn 50 International boat rod.
Rocky Mount Fisherman Catches Pending State Record Pigfish
Jason Edwards of Rocky Mount was fishing on the Capt. Stacy IV on May 23 when he caught a 2, pound and 12 ounce pigfish that is the pending N.C. state record. The information and species were verified by Division of Marine Fisheries Staff and sent to the N.C. Saltwater Tournament Committee for approval on June 22. The current record is a 2 pound, 4 ounce pigfish caught by Walter M. Campbell in 1991.
Edwards was fishing cut squid on the bottom when the fish hit. They were approximately 30 miles southeast of Beaufort Inlet. He was fishing a Penn 66 reel spooled with 80 pound line.
The pigfish was 15.5 inches long and 14 inches in girth. It was weighed at the Capt. Stacy Fishing Center in Atlantic Beach. Expectations are for the record to be approved in late June.