One thing you can't overlook when you have a goal of catching a record fish is the location of a good, certified scale capable of handling the particular species you're chasing. That certainly became evident earlier this week when John Beauford of Awendaw boated a 123-pound amberjack while fishing with his good friend Michael Owen of Taylorsville, Ga.
Beauford's catch Tuesday shattered the previous record of 100 pounds, 8 ounces, caught out of Murrells Inlet in 2008.
"(Michael) has gotten a couple of state records in Mississippi, so he and I have become real conscious of what you can keep and what you're supposed to do. We read (the regulations and records) before we leave," Beauford said.
"We made a mistake and didn't take a sheet that told us what any of the (record) weights were, but when we looked at the fish we guessed somewhere between 125 and 140 pounds. We had a scale (on the boat) that topped out at 100 pounds and it went over 100 pounds. We figured the state record was between 90 and 100 pounds. When we got back where his cell phone would work, he got on the phone and went through the Internet. We thought it was 99 pounds."
The first thing Beauford and Owen did when they reached shore was head to Beauford's son-in-law's home on Sullivan's Island "for bragging rights, just to show him the fish." Beauford's son-in-law suggested they take the fish to nearby Toler's Cove Marina, but their scale wasn't large enough and was not certified.
Next, they headed to Haddrell's Point Tackle in Mount Pleasant. Their scales, while certified, also topped out at 100 pounds. When they tried to weigh the fish, they got an error message saying it was too much weight.
Finally, they headed to Mount Pleasant Seafood where they weighed the fish, then kept it on ice overnight until it could be verified for state record consideration.
Beauford used to live in Taylorsville, Ga., and has been fishing buddies with Owen for a number of years. "We argue, we fight, we cuss each other, but we plan our fishing trips," Beauford said. "We don't just go out and throw out a line."
Most of Owen's trips in his 34-foot SeaVee, named Wasabi, were to the Gulf of Mississippi. But in light of the gigantic oil spill this year he was looking for some other opportunities. Beauford sent Owen some maps, and they talked on the phone about some good locations to try to catch amberjacks and grouper.
They headed out of Isle of Palms Marina about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday with the Georgetown Hole as a destination. Once they arrived, they began marking good locations on their recorder before finally wetting their lines.
Owen likes to fish with dead or live bait, while Beauford has fished artificials most of his life. Beauford began to work a jig and soon hooked up with the fish of a lifetime, one that cut their fishing day short. They had released a much smaller amberjack and caught a small dolphin.
"We had plenty more time to fish. It was like 1:30 in the afternoon, so we decided this thing might be a state record and we needed to get in before all the places that have scales closed up. So we cut our fishing trip short and came home."
Beauford said he didn't want to reveal the type of jig he used.
"I promise it was not a butterfly jig and I promise it's the cheapest jig you can buy. I order them out of New Jersey and they cost me $1.25 apiece," Beauford said. "I'll tell you what kind of reel I use (Shimano) and what kind of rod I use (Shimano) and what kind of line (Sufix) I use."