Few anglers ever catch a state-record fish, but Toby Grantham of Knightdale has now done it twice. He caught the record scamp grouper two years ago on a trip aboard Capt. Dave Tilley’s Continental Shelf out of Morehead City, and last weekend, he caught a potential record African pompano on another trip with Tilley.
Grantham's African pompano pushed the certified scale at Chasin' Tails Outdoors to 46 pounds, besting the old record of 40 pounds, 10 ounces. Paperwork has been filed with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries to have the record catch certified.
“When I got the fish on the deck, I knew it was going to be close to the record,” Grantham said. “Capt. Dave checked and saw the current record was 40-10, and we weighed it on the boat's scales, which are a little rough from being weathered, but we knew it would give a rough estimate. That scale showed it around 44 pounds, and Capt. Dave called Chasin' Tails because they would be closed before we got back. Those guys helped me out and left someone there to weigh the fish on certified scales.”
With the Continental Shelf, a 100-foot headboat, anchored over a wreck in about 135 feet of water, Grantham was vertical jigging around 2:15 pm with a 180-gram Smith Nagamasa jig.
"I was speed-jigging with short, fast pumps, then on the way up, I gave it two slow, long jerks. The fish hit it on the second long jerk at a depth of about 50 feet," Grantham said. "When he realized he was hooked, he went on about a 15-second, drag-screaming run."
Grantham's MC Works Rod and Shimano Stella 10000 SWBPG spinning reel put a stop to the run, and after what Grantham said was about a 6-minute fight, he hoisted the fish on board.
Since catching the record grouper almost two years ago, Grantham has fished on the Continental Shelf a handful of times, but this was the first time he fished in the same spot.
“I usually like to fish near the back of the boat, but this trip was a last-minute decision. I got there a little late, so those spots were all taken. I decided to fish near the galley door about halfway down the boat, which is where I was when I caught the scamp record," Grantham said.
Interestingly, Milton Boyd, the cook who leaves the galley to fish whenever he gets a free moment, and was fishing beside Grantham two years ago when he caught the record grouper, and he was fishing beside Grantham when the record pompano bit.
"I think I'll take Milton fishing with me anytime I go from now on," said Grantham.