Fishing Record Fish

North Carolina Certifies First-Ever Puddingwife Wrasse That Might Break 20-Year World Record

The uniquely colorful fish is a new state record, and it could unseat the current world record
Katie Hill Avatar
north carolina puddingwife wrasse record
Stone holds the 3-pound, 11-ounce wrasse off the southern coast of North Carolina. North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Connor Stone of Southport, North Carolina, made history on July 27 when he reeled in what has now been certified as the state’s first-ever record puddingwife wrasse, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality reported Monday. He hauled in the eye-catching fish 10 miles offshore of his hometown, which is on the southern coast of North Carolina just across Cape Fear River from Bald Head Island. 

What makes the unusual catch even more notable is that the 3-pound, 11-ounce wrasse might also break the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record, which hasn’t been touched in over 20 years.

Stone caught the fish on squid and 50-pound braid with a Fiblink Signature rod and a Fin-Nor LTC16h reel. The wrasse measured 18 inches from nose to tail and had a 13-inch girth. David Pesi caught the current world-record puddingwife wrasse off the coast of Key West, Florida, in 2003, according to the IGFA. That fish weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces, just slightly smaller than Stone’s catch. Stone plans to submit his fish for consideration by the IGFA.

Read Next: Angler Catches New State-Record Channel Catfish, Breaks His Net in the Process

While details are scarce on Stone’s catch, the wrasse must have been measured on a certified scale at an official weigh station to qualify as a record, per North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries regulations

About Puddingwife Wrasse

The blue-green fish might look like something you can only glimpse in an aquarium, but puddingwife wrasse (Halichoeres radiatus) actually inhabit Atlantic waters from North Carolina to northern Brazil. They live in reefs and are just one of a variety of over 600 wrasse species—each more colorful than the last. Still, species that are traditionally considered exotic are making their way farther north in recent years.

While puddingwife wrasse live in the benthic water column, or the lowest zone closest to the ocean floor, they also live close to land, which means they rarely make it much deeper than 180 feet. They eat crustaceans, sea cucumbers, starfish, sea urchins, benthic worms, and bivalves, and are generally considered decent table fare. Some other wrasse species, known as cleaner wrasse, meticulously clean sea lice off bigger fish. Salmon farmers in Scotland even use them to keep tanks and salmon clean.