Saltwater fishing off the charts on the Mississippi coast

This 114.2-pound amberjack caught by user Troy Helwig in March is the pending state-record AJ, but it's only one of the big catches that have kept record keepers busy this season.

Several record fish have been landed, Division of Marine Resources says.

After a one-two punch of Deep-water Horizon oil spill and the freshwater inundation of the Gulf following extreme springs flooding of the Mississippi river, the stage was set for lackluster expectations for saltwater anglers. These expectations, however, have been gratefully upset by several record catches along the state’s coast.

Starting the year off in a big way as Steve Atwood and crew hauled aboard a huge wahoo in Mississippi waters. The beast, which the charter crew estimated by measurement to range from 124 to 130 pounds, took more than 24 hours to be weighed on certified scales.

Once the Department of Marine Resources’ weight was official at 111 pounds, 2.6 ounces was declared, heartbreak was all around. The state-record for wahoo is 111-pounds 3.2 ounces. By a matter of 6/10 of an ounce, Atwood and company just narrowly missed the record by the narrowest of margins.

The fact that the fish had lost body weight in the 24 hours since being landed only adds to the annuals of “could have been.”

On March 18, sailing out of Ocean Springs harbor, Mississippi angler Troy Helwig picked up a number of big amberjack on a sprint to the oilrigs. The largest of these, landed at Gorenflo’s tackle weighed in at over 115 pounds. This blew the former record that stood since 2008 out of the water.

DMR’s official weight of the animal was 114.2 pounds, and is the new pending state record for the brown suited amberjack.

Goreneflo’s own Cobia Tournament, a staple along the Coast for a quarter century, saw a number of large ling, but remarkably weighed in a 33-pound blackfin tuna that is a now a pending state record.

This started a scramble for tuna records in South Mississippi.

On May 11, D’Iberville resident Stacy Combs brought a 92-pound, 2.88-ounce bigeye tuna ashore that has been certified as a new record.

That record, however, is on the ropes after only a month, with Georgia resident Chip Temple, fishing on the charter boat Jasper Town, brought a huge 203.9-pound bigeye to shore.

Temple caught his behemoth on hard tail off Lloyd’s ridge in the middle of the night. Characteristically it was landed at night to an overawed crowd at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic on June 12.

Besting Comb’s fish by more than a factor of two, Temple’s bruiser is awaiting certification by the DMR.

As spring turned to summer, the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo held its 63rd tournament in Long Beach, and the turnout was better than the last two years.

A number of large reds and king mackerel were landed but one highlight of the event was a 62-pound, 1-ounce oilfish landed by New Orleans angler Pat Griffin while looking for grouper.

Large oilfish are rare on Mississippi shores, and the current record for that species is a 50-pound, 0.32-ounce fish caught by Kenneth Saxman in 2002. Griffin’s catch is pending certification.

A number of fishing tournaments are set for the remainder of the year, including the Mississippi Gulf Coast Big Game Fishing Club’s Sonny Johnson Memorial Tournament slated for Aug. 17-21. The blue-water event is an IGFA Offshore World Championship qualifier

The Southern Kingfish Association divisionals will be held Aug. 26-27, and their nationals are Nov. 7-9.

The Mississippi State Department of Marine Resources maintain the official conventional saltwater records on more than 120 species ranging from popular gamefish such as wahoo and blue marlin to such little known species cubbyu and soapfish.

They are being kept very busy so far this year.

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