Williams, from Virginia Beach, boated a 25-pound longnose gar that measured 53½ inches long and 18½ inches in girth,from the Intracoastal Waterway near Coinjock on Jan. 30 while fishing with his neighbor, Glenn Cooper.
Williams and Cooper were fishing for striped bass in about six feet of water when Williams hooked the monster gar. After a brief fight in which Williams was sure the fish was going to break his rod, he finally got it in the boat and saw that it was huge.
Despite the size of the fish, Williams said he was planning to release it when Cooper pulled out his I-phone and downloaded the freshwater fish state record information from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Web site.
"Glenn got on his phone and pulled up a picture on the Web site of the other state record and it looked kind of skinny by comparison," Williams said. "So it was a good thing he was with me. Otherwise, I'd have let it go if I was fishing by myself."
The two men weren't familiar with the area so they got back on the I-phone to locate a store with certified scales. They had the fish weighed on certified scales at TW's Bait and Tackle in Kitty Hawk. Kevin Dockendorf, a fisheries biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, verified the catch.
In North Carolina, longnose gar are found statewide, but are most abundant in coastal rivers and streams. They are the only species of gar found in the state.
Williams' catch surpasses the previous record-holder, held by Sebastian Lankiewicz of Jacksonville since June 2006, by nearly 6 pounds and 4 inches.
To qualify for a state record, anglers must have caught the fish on a rod and reel, must have the fish weighed on a certified scale witnessed by one observer, have the fish positively identified by a qualified expert from the Commission and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.
For a list of all freshwater fish state records in North Carolina, click here. For more information on fishing in North Carolina's public, inland waters, call the Commission's Division of Inland Fisheries, (919) 707-0220.