A youngster from Tennessee has set a North Carolina state record with a 32-pound scamp grouper caught of Morehead City on June 2, a fish that is a potential all-tackle and junior world record.
Teddy Wingfield of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., was fishing about 50 miles out of Beaufort Inlet, in 175 feet of water, with Capt. Daniel Brisson on the Sunrise II when he caught the huge grouper, which was 43 inches long and 28 inches in girth. He was using a Penn Carnage jigging rod, a Canyon spinning reel loaded with 60-pound line and a Barefoot jig baited with squid.
“It hit, and I set the hook and began reeling,” said Wingfield, 9, who estimated that it took him 20 minutes to land the fish. “I moved it off the bottom a little, and then it began running. We had lost a few fish earlier … and this felt like a big one. I gave it all I had to keep it coming because I didn’t want to lose it.”
“I was fishing a Barefoot jig with a piece of squid,” he said. “This isn’t one of the jigs that you jig up and down; you let it sit on the bottom. I felt the fish pick it up and gave it just a little time to get it in its mouth and began reeling. It didn’t take but a few seconds to know it was bigger than anything else I had caught.”
The scamp was weighed on certified scales at the Capt. Stacy Fishing Center in Atlantic Beach. It crushed the existing state record, a 27-pound, 1-ounce fish caught off Atlantic Beach in 2012 by Toby Grantham. The International Game Fishing Association’s record book lists the all-tackle world record at 29 pounds, 10 ounces — a fish caught off Dauphin Island, Ala., in 2000.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries certified Wingfield’s fish as the state record in early August. Wingfield and his father, Joseph, filled out applications for the IGFA record, sending in the rig and a line sample. The record is pending but expected to be approved.
"Teddy did a real good job with this fish," Joseph Wingfield said. "He's been fishing since he was small, and we've been coming to Atlantic Beach and fishing with Captain Daniel for a few years. This was our third trip this year, and Teddy and his brothers have already caught citation cobia and dolphin. He's only nine, but he's serious and knows pretty well what he's doing.
"At one point during the fight, he was concerned he might lose the fish and asked me for help," Wingfield said. "I told him he was doing fine and just to stick with it and he would get it in. We thought it was a big fish, but no one was thinking it might be a state or world record.
"As soon as he saw the fish, Capt. Daniel got excited and said to hurry up and get it in," Wingfield said. "We had seen sharks before, and I thought he had seen another. Once the fish was in the boat, he said it was a huge scamp and might be a state record. We talked about coming in then so it wouldn't lose much weight, but my boys were having fun and catching fish, so we decided to continue fishing. We tried to weigh it on the boat, but it broke the scales. That really got us wondering what it might weigh."