A Hilton Head Island angler has broken the state record for African pompano by 11 ounces.
Courtland T. Babcock III caught the 44-pound, 3-ounce fish in 90 feet of water at a spot local fishermen call the "Deli" on Nov. 13, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Babcock, 40, and several friends left from Moss Creek Marina early that morning on his 23-foot Contender, "Stoner." After a successful morning of fishing, the record-breaking fish was hooked in the early afternoon, according to a DNR news release.
The fish was brought aboard after a 15-minute fight. It was caught with a metal jig, fished on a 4-foot, 8-inch Jigging Master rod paired with a Studio Oceanmark Blue Heaven reel.
Babcock took the fish to Benny Hudson Seafood the next day, where John McKinlay weighed it and DNR biologist Al Stokes certified the catch.
State Record Marine Game Fish Program coordinator Amy Dukes verified the new state record Nov. 16. The previous African pompano state record was held by Bryan Powell of Mount Pleasant, who caught a 43-pound, 8-ounce fish in 2008.
Attempts Wednesday to reach Babcock, Stokes and Dukes were unsuccessful.
DNR encourages anglers to protect fisheries by keeping only fish that will be consumed and by using good handling skills when releasing fish. To learn more, go to www.dnr.sc.gov/aquaticed/catchrelease.html.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.