The Spanish hogfish was a surprise catch
July 17, 2021 began like many other fishing days for Dr. Bob Timson. He headed offshore from the Cape Fear Inlet with Capt. Hiroki Toma and a friend for some bottom fishing on Toma’s boat Matias. Little did he know, he would catch a fish — a Spanish hogfish — that was very special.
After fishing a while, Timson reeled in an unusual looking fish. It was mostly green, but very colorful. At first, everyone thought it was a parrotfish and went back to fishing. But Timson just wasn’t sure. However, they were fishing way too far from land for his cell phone to connect to the Fish Rules app to positively identify the fish.
As the day went on, the other anglers reeled in a few grouper, but it was Timson’s day for unusual fish. Aside from the fish in question, he landed a greater soapfish and a spotted scorpionfish. The crew casually mentioned these three fish were usually considered to be more southern. But it was more than casual talk for Timson.
Once back within cell phone range, Timson looked up the fish. He had been correct; it wasn’t a parrotfish, but a Spanish hogfish. And it was the biggest Spanish hogfish he had ever seen, so he looked up the world record. It was 1 pound, 8 ounces. The scales on the boat registered his at more than 2 pounds.
Certified scale confirms Timson’s suspicions
Back on land, he spoke to fellow Southport angler Craig Thompson, who caught the world record creole fish with Capt. Toma aboard Matias in 2020. Thompson agreed it was a Spanish hogfish, and they searched online for an IGFA certified scale, which they found at Island Tackle & Hardware in Carolina Beach. The store was closed, so Timson buried the fish deep in ice to help preserve its weight, then drove there early the next morning.
His fish weighed in at 2 pounds, 11 ounces, more than a pound heavier than the current record.
Timson headed home with the proper paperwork from the scales, then downloaded the necessary forms from the IGFA’s website. He sent in all the necessary forms along with a 15-foot sample of the line he used to catch the fish. Then all he could do was wait. His wait ended on Aug. 31, when his world record certificate arrived from the IGFA.
Timson caught the fish on a recycled crab
“We were fishing in 200 to 250 feet of water offshore of Frying Pan Tower when the fish hit,” Timson said. “There really wasn’t anything special about the fight, except that once near the surface, it got a burst of energy and pulled some drag. We had been catching larger fish and were a little surprised at this. But some offshore bottom fish save a burst for when near the boat and we didn’t think anything of it.
“It hit a crab that one of the other fish had regurgitated,” Timson said. “The crab was laying on the deck and looked good, so I put it on the hook and dropped it back down. That apparently was the right thing to do.”
Timson was fishing with a custom rod topped with an Accurate Valiant 30 reel loaded with 30-pound test Sufix 832 braided line. The 2-pound, 11-ounce Spanish hogfish was 15 inches to the fork of its tail, 18 inches long, and had an 11-inch girth.
He had not yet submitted the fish to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries as a potential state record, but will now that the world record has been recognized. In the near future, the fish should also be recognized as the N.C. record for the species.
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