Adam Kirby is the chef and co-owner of Bistro 217 and The Rustic Table, two quaint restaurants in Pawleys Island, S.C., and while he enjoys preparing seafood dishes for his customers, he does more than just cook fish. He also loves to catch them.
And while fishing near Georgetown, S.C. on Dec. 18, he caught a black drum that broke the 100-pound mark, which would have made him ever so briefly the new state record holder for the species, if not for the South Carolina state law and SCDNR regulation requiring the release of any black drum that doesn’t meet the slot limit, which is between 14 and 27 inches in length.
The current state record, an 89 pounder caught near Port Royal in 1978, has an asterisk beside it in the record book. This is the mark placed next to any state record fish that is now regulated by a slot limit, meaning the record cannot be broken as long as the slot limit remains.
Kirby doesn’t know the precise weight of his black drum because it bottomed out the 60-pound Boga Grip he weighed the fish with, but by using the length-girth measurement formula used by fisheries biologists and SCDNR, the fish weighed 110 pounds.
And even if Kirby’s fish had become the official new state record, his friend and fishing partner Alistair Bremner would have toppled that when he caught a bigger black drum less than an hour later. Using the same formula, Bremner’s fish, which had a length of 53 inches and a girth of 43, would have tipped the scales at 122 pounds, which would surpass the current world record of 113 pounds, which was caught in Delaware Bay in 1975.
Both fish were released, and while the state and world weight-class records will go unchanged, Bremner still has a chance at the IGFA length world record for the species. Kirby, Bremner, and Jim Maass, who was also fishing on the trip, took a video of them measuring the length of the fish, and they’ve filled out the initial forms with IGFA.