The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record for mangrove snapper on Wednesday. The 15 pound, 3.2 ounce fish was boated by 19-year-old angler Adrian Faircloth of Supply, North Carolina, on May 6.
The new record snapper measured 29.5 inches long, with a 23-inch girth, and was caught at the famed Frying Pan Tower, located offshore Bald Head Island, south of Wilmington. (Mangrove snapper is the common name for the fish more properly known as the gray snapper, or Lutjanus griseus.)
Faircloth’s fish tops the previous mangrove snapper record of 12 pounds, 5 ounces, caught in 2018 off Ocean Isle Beach, located not far from where Faircloth caught the new record.
Faircloth used a live menhaden and employed a custom bottom-fishing rod, with a Penn International 50w reel spooled with 100-pound test braided line.
The species is widely distributed throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, from Bermuda to Brazil, including all of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, according to IGFA.
Gray snapper are widely caught throughout much of the southeast coast of the U.S., and often are seen lurking around saltwater docks and marinas. They are notoriously difficult to catch, especially those marina-dwelling fish that live in clear water habitats. But gray snapper also thrive in deep, open water, where the majority of big fish usually are caught.
Of the 32 mangrove snapper records listed in the IGFA records book, all but two were caught in the U.S. The largest IGFA gray snapper is an 18 pound, 10 ounce giant, taken out of Cocodrie in south Louisiana by angler Tim Champagne in 2015. That fish hit a live croaker bait.
While most mangrove snapper are caught using live bait, including shrimp and menhaden, they can be caught on fly tackle. They are extremely shy and difficult to dupe, however, which is another reason landing a big one is such an accomplishment.