Seems like a day of record fish to be caught. Check out this croaker...it looks like a drum. Did someone else post this? If not, it just shattered the current record.
Norman Jenkins has given new meaning to catching a "horse" croaker.
On Friday, the angler from Portsmouth caught one that weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces from the deep waters around Old Point Comfort at the southern tip of Mathews County. The fish is believed to be the biggest croaker ever caught - in a net or on rod and reel.
According to area headboat and fishing pier operators, more Atlantic croaker are caught from Virginia waters during the summer than any other species.
"Good Lord, that's a big croaker," Virginia Beach captain Skip Feller said. "We're catching a lot of croaker right now, but nothing like that."
The species is a summer mainstay because of its abundance and taste. Those that weigh 2 pounds or more are affectionately called horses. Jenkins' fish was more like a Clydesdale. And it shattered world and state records.
The International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record for the species was 5 pounds, 8 ounces. It was caught in 2000 off the coast of Alabama.
The previous Virginia record weighed 5 ounces more, but it was caught in 1982, before the IGFA recognized the species for world record consideration.
The fish gets its name for the deep croaking sound it makes. The average croaker is 12 inches long and about 1-1/2 pounds.
A 3-pounder is large enough to earn an award from the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. But fish topping 4 pounds are a rarity throughout the species' range.
The species rarely lives past five years but can survive up to nine, according to Jon Lucy, a marine recreation specialist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
"With all the people who bottom-fish along the coast and in the Gulf, with all that activity, for there not to be more big croaker caught is an amazement," Lucy said. "That's what makes this particular fish so unusual."
The easy-to-catch bottom feeder is a mainstay for many Virginia anglers.
"Spot and croaker are our bread and butter," said Brock Baskette, a bait shop employee at the Ocean View Fishing Pier in Norfolk.
"We've been catching them pretty good lately. We even had a 4-1/2 -pounder a couple of days ago.
"But an 8-pounder? Geesh!"
Jenkins was flounder fishing with his lifelong friend, Sammy Brooks, also of Portsmouth.
"We thought it was a puppy drum or something by the way it was fighting," said Jenkins, a 63-year-old retired railroad employee. "When we got it close to the net, Sammy thought it was a small black drum."
When the two measured the grunting fish at whopping 28 inches, they realized they had a real horse on their hands.
"He started croaking like crazy, louder than most croaker you catch," said Jenkins, who added that the fish was his first award-winning fish. "We started realizing it was a croaker.
"One heck of a big croaker."