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Not many people can say they caught the state record the first time they ever went out for a certain kind of fish.
But that’s what happened to Chuck Deeter.
The Oak Island resident set the North Carolina record for red grouper when he reeled in the 33-pound 8-ounce fish, according to a press release last week from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.
The grouper, which was weighed in at Anchorage Marina in Atlantic Beach, measured 35 inches in length and had a 25.5-inch girth.
Deeter, using hand-cranked reels, actually caught the grouper Oct. 13.
“It took me a while to get everything in,” he said of the paperwork. “Nobody had established the state record.”
“Deeter’s fish met the criteria for establishing a state record in that it was exceptional in size for North Carolina waters, and it was within a reasonable size range of the world record,” said Carole Willis, N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament coordinator.
The world record red grouper—42 pounds 4 ounces—was caught in St. Augustine, Fla., Willis said.
Deeter was fishing out of Atlantic Beach near Morehead City on Captain Anthony Ng’s boat along with Deeter’s nephew Roger Eddy and his neighbor Aaron Haga. They were using cut bait (menhaden).
“The real credit should go to Anthony,” Deeter said. “He put us right on the fish and did a fantastic job. Without him, there wouldn’t have been any.”
Because it was Deeter’s first trip fishing for grouper, he didn’t know what to expect and had no idea how big they got.
“It was like catching a log,” he said. “They’re heavy—they pull hard. You couldn’t make any headway pulling it up. They tend to get in a hole or under a ledge, so my concern was to get him up quickly.”
He finally got the monster fish back to the boat, and they gaffed it to get it in.
“I was pretty happy with it,” he said
All the fishermen on board had a good day.
“We caught pretty much the limit of five apiece,” Deeter said. “We had several over 20 pounds.”
Eddy’s fish weighed 23 pounds 8 ounces, while Haga’s fish was 24 pounds.
Deeter, 63, retired from AT&T in Ohio. For several years after retiring, he had a farm and livestock importing business from Canada to Ohio. He moved to Brunswick County five years ago.
“It was 96 miles to the closest boat slip I could rent in Ohio,” Deeter said. “Now I have my boat about 250 feet away.”
He has a 23-foot center console named “Naughty Dolphin.”
Deeter, who normally fishes for king mackerel and bottom fish, said his Oak Island neighbors have taken him out and taught him how to fish. So he knew exactly what he was going to do with the mammoth grouper.
“I had been to a lot of cookouts at my neighbors, and I finally got the chance to return the favor,” Deeter said. “I had a (restaurant) expert to cook it.”
His nephew Eddy custom-makes most of Deeter’s fishing rods, but he used the boat captain’s rods and reels on the grouper trip.
When he came home and told people about his catch, “Most of them around here said, ‘Good eating!” Deeter said.
He also sent e-mails to friends and family and got back complimentary e-mails.
They were pleased that his rookie trip ended up in the record books.
“It was definitely different than fishing for king mackerel,” Deeter said. “That was my first grouper trip, and I sure hope it’s not my last. They’re just a lot of fun to catch.”