Mike Voytkowski fought his new state record false albacore for a long time, but it took even longer for his record application to work through the channels and be approved.
Voytkowski, of South Waverly, Pa., was fishing with a group of friends on the Beagle out of Morehead City on April 7, 2015, when his date with destiny struck his lure. His efforts resulted in mat Nathan Stafford gaffing a 32-pound false albacore, aka fat albert, and tossing it in the fish box. It wasn’t until the fish were unloaded at the dock that Stafford and Capt. Bill Dillon realized how big the fish was.
Voytkowski had gone home when the state-record application began, and things were handled by mail, which slowed the process. Originally weighed at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors and taken to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries for species verification, Voytkowski’s catch was recognized as the state record in late March 2016, almost a year after it was caught.
“This was my first deep-sea fishing trip, and the others in the group had been before,” Voytkowski said. “They insisted I take the first fish, and this was it.
“Man, that fish kicked my butt,” Voytkowski said. “I couldn’t tell if I was getting it in or not. It would run, and I would reel. I reeled until I didn’t have anything left and couldn’t reel any longer and paused a little. When I paused, my son and my buddies kept telling me I could do it and encouraging me, so I found a little more strength and energy and kept slowly reeling it in. I really didn’t care about the size then; I was just glad I finally got it in. That fish was strong.”
Dillon said he originally thought the fish was likely a yellowfin tuna.
“When the fish hit and ran, it went harder and farther than a fat albert or blackfin usually goes,” Dillon said. “I thought it might be a yellowfin, as we had caught some there the week before. We had it on a 30-wide outfit, and it was all he wanted.
“That was a good day for big fat alberts,” Dillon said. “We had several others that probably would have broken the old record, but this easily stood out as the largest. We were fishing a break between the 90-Foot Drop and the Yancey. We had been on mixed fish there for more than a week, and it produced again. I plan to break the record again this year.”
The big false albacore hit a homemade Green Lantern, a Sea Witch head inserted into a small, green squid and finished with crystal Sea Witch hair. The lure was rigged on wire, as Dillon had been catching a few wahoo in this area and Dillon wanted to avoid bite-offs. A medium ballyhoo, pinned to a 7/0 hook completed the rig.
Voytkowski’s false albacore exceeded the previous record by 5 1/2 pounds. It was 39 3/4 inches long and 24 1/4 inches in girth. The former record, which had stood for 24 years, weighed 26 1/2 pounds and was caught by Lyman Kinlaw, Jr. off Wrightsville Beach.