Guy R. Jones of Newport News, Va., had more to celebrate this past July 4 than most of his countrymen who enjoyed the Independence Day holiday. The day before Jones caught a 45-pound golden tilefish that now has been confirmed as the initial North Carolina state record for the species.

Jones and some friends were fishing with Capt. Derek Taylor aboard the Carolina Girl charter boat out of Teach's Lair Marina in Hatteras.

Taylor decided to stop and try and catch a few tilefish on the way back to port, and one of the fish Jones caught was particularly large. Someone casually asked what the state record was, prompting a 2-month trail of paperwork that resulted in the record being confirmed Tuesday (Sept. 14).

North Carolina had no golden tilefish record approved by North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries staff and the North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament Advisory Board.

Those two groups put their stamp of approval on Jones' fish.

"The fish must be exceptionally large for North Carolina waters and within a reasonable range of the world record," DMF sportfishing specialist Carole Willis said.

Willis said DMF staff and the NCSFTAB were polled, and it was decided that Jones' fish would be the first established state record for golden tilefish.

Jones' fish was 43.5 inches long and had a 30-inch girth. He caught it using cut bait on an Offshore Angler Power Stick matched with a Shimano Torium 20 reel and 60-pound test line.

The world-record golden tilefish weighed 59 pounds, 3 ounces and was caught in 2007 off Maryland.