Sunday, June 11, started out in a nasty thunderstorm, complete with lightning and driving rain, but ended with the silver lining of the cloud gleaming brightly as Billy Ray Lucas, Capt. Troy Crane and a group of close friends landed a 116.5 pound cobia shortly after the sun found its way through the clouds and brightened the skies.
"We fought our way through a really bad storm all morning," said Capt. Crane. "I had a place in mind, where we had caught several citation size cobias over the previous few days, and we were headed back to it. I was running along very slow, using the GPS and radar for several hours, but the National Weather Service had said the storm would push through and we would have a great afternoon and this time they were right—really right." Billy Ray Lucas, Jr, of Wilson, was the fortunate angler who hooked and landed the brute cobia. "Before leaving the dock that morning, we said a short prayer and asked for a good day of fellowship on the water and if we might be blessed with a good catch," said a humble Lucas. "Boy did that prayer get answered!" While Crane and Lucas had caught several citation-size cobia (45 pounds is the minimum for a cobia citation in N.C.) in the previous days, Lucas and Glenn had seen a really big fish on Saturday and couldn't get it to bite. "I couldn't tell you for sure it was a cobia, but it acted like one and meandered along in the shadows just outside the surf line,' Lucas said. "I just knew I wanted to get back there and see if we could get a shot at it. I don't know if this is the same fish, but it sure made this fishing trip special. I told Troy the fish I saw was so big it would have to be a record and this one is. Maybe it is the fish Randy and I saw." Crane first saw the big cobia come easing down the surf line. "I didn't get a real good look at it, but I didn't think it was that big," Crane said. "Billy Ray was in the tower with me and I pointed it out to him and spun the boat to give him a cast at it. He made the cast, got the fish to strike and worked it to the boat." It took about 45 minutes for Lucas to subdue the big cobia. When the fish got to the boat, Floyd gaffed it and then called for help. Barrington grabbed a second gaff, stuck the big fish and helped Floyd drag it into the cockpit. Someone asked how big it might be and Crane guesstimated around 90 pounds. No one on the boat had even thought this might be a record fish, so they took a few minutes to take some pictures, as you would with any large catch, threw it in the fish box, iced it down and continued to fish. They caught several more cobia before calling it a day and heading back to Oregon Inlet. "Billy Ray wanted to take the big cobia back to Wilson, so I sent Jeff to the scales with the others," Crane said. "In just a few minutes, Jeff returned saying the largest of the other cobia weighed 61 pounds and maybe we should weigh the large one. No one mentioned the record, but we were all wondering 'what if?'" "Our surprise was genuine when the scales had already reached 110 and the tail wasn't completely off the ground," Crane said. "There was an audible whoosh as we all drew deep breaths while the cobia was raised those last few inches. The scales climbed to 116.5 and then stayed there. Billy Ray knew what the record was and was the first to whoop and holler." "I don't have the right words to describe it," Lucas continued, "But it was a special experience and was made even better by doing it with special people. This was a team effort and everyone did their part. I was just the lucky angler that got to reel it in!" Lucas's catch was approved as the North Carolina state record on June 20 and has also been submitted to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for approval as a 50-pound line class record. Lucas was using a Barefoot Tackle rod, Daiwa spinning reel, 50-pound test Tuff Line by Western Filament, Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and a Fairwaters buck tail jig for the historic catch. Check out the August North Carolina Sportsman Magazine for all the details on this remarkable catch.