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New Rare Fish Species Record Set in North Carolina

This fish is so rarely caught in waters this far north, the state didn't even have a category established for it.

It had already been a slammer day of fishing off the coast of North Carolina for angler Matt Frattasio when he hooked into a large, rare fish that would establish a new state record.

A Massachusetts native, Frattasio spent November 8, 2023 fishing aboard the boat of Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters near an old shipwreck off the coast of Morehead City, North Carolina. They spent the morning catching a decent number of fish inshore, but the bites really exploded when Nugent moved the boat to deeper water, to a spot known locally as the "D wreck."

Fish after fish were brought in by the crew, mostly decent-sized amberjacks, until Frattasio's catch caught Nugent's eye. He identified it as a Seriola rivoliana—otherwise known as an almaco jack—a fish so rarely caught in waters this far north that the state didn't even have a category established for it. That all changed with Frattasio's 26-pound, 15.6-ounce catch, which was landed by Nugent.

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"Today was one of the best days of fishing I've ever experienced anywhere," Nugent posted on his own and Riptide Charters' Facebook page. "After a legitimate 100-fish day, Matt hooked a beast that could not be tamed on an 8k combo. [For] 2.5 hours, the fish had its way with us. We chased it into five feet of water, got the leader in the tip and still couldn't see what it was. Finally at max drag, the leader gave up."

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries announced the catch and new state record on November 20: From tip to fork of the tail, the monster almaco jack measured 36.4 inches and had a girth of 26 inches, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. This fish falls in between the records for neighboring states Georgia and Florida, which stand at 7 pounds, 0.7 ounce, and 35 pounds, 9 ounces, respectively.

almaco jack North Carolina state record

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Frattasio made his big catch using live menhaden and 50-pound braid on a Daiwa Saltist MQ 14000 reel paired with a Hogy Tuna jigging rod. In all, the crew spent about eight hours in the boat on that record-breaking day.

"In my 40-plus years of fishing, the two days on Riptide Charters was the most insane experience ever—non-stop on the bite for start to finish," Frattasio told Fox News Digital. "After slamming Albies inshore all morning, captain Terry [Nugent] made the decision to hit deeper water off a wreck and magic happened. After a few solid amberjacks, we hooked into the Almaco. Without [the] captain's extensive knowledge, we would've released it."

The almaco fish was reviewed at the Division of Marine Fisheries Headquarters before officially being named a state record.

READ MORE: What to Do if You Think You Caught a Record-Breaking Fish