When Toby Grantham of Knightdale held up a scamp grouper he'd just caught last Sept. 25, Dave Tilley, the captain of the Continental Shelf, exclaimed, "That's a potential state record!"

Tilley was correct.

On Jan. 14, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries certified the 27.6-pound fish as its first state-record scamp grouper.

 Grantham caught the fish on the first night of a 48-hour offshore trip Tilley had offered aboard his 100-foot headboat. Grantham had to wait 36 hours before he got the grouper weighed on certified scales at Chasing Tails in Atlantic Beach and could start the paperwork to have the fish recognized as the biggest scamp ever caught out of a North Carolina port. The fish was 40 inches long and 26 ¼ inches in girth.

"I hadn't caught many scamps before that, so I had no idea how big they got, or that this was a big deal," said Grantham, who was well prepared for catching big fish.

He caught the grouper on a pink, 4-ounce Blue Water Candy Roscoe jig tied on 50-pound Power Pro with a 60-pound Yo-Zuri fluorocarbon leader. He was deep-jigging the lure with a Shimano Stella 8000 SW-PG spinning reel mounted to a Black Hole Cape Cod Special 54s jigging rod in approximately 180 feet of water east of Cape Lookout.Tilley, who plans to run several 48-hour trips in 2013, was thrilled with Grantham's record catch.

Tilley, who plans to run several 48-hour trips in 2013, was thrilled with Grantham's record catch."It's great. Deep-water jigging is hard work," Tilley said. "Toby deserved it. I don't think he slept at all. Every time I looked, he was at the rail with his line in the water."Before Grantham's catch, North Carolina had never certified a scamp grouper as a state record, but becoming the record-holder wasn't automatic. His catch had to be reasonably close to the size of record fish from neighboring states – it was slightly more than two pounds lighter than the all-tackle world record, a 29-pound, 10-ounce scamp caught out of an Alabama port in 2000.