North Carolina anglers go swordfishing, instead catch rare species: ‘Prehistoric, almost’

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A group of anglers in North Carolina spent an afternoon on the water hoping to catch a swordfish — but wound up reeling in something rare.

On April 21, Jeremiah Elliott, 31, owner of Geronimo Tackle, was joined by Zachary Elliott, his brother, and his fishing buddies, Chandler Butler and Trevor Burns, on his 30-foot regulator center console 60 miles out from the shores of Morehead, North Carolina, Jeremiah Elliott told Fox News Digital.

The Greenville resident took up fishing four years ago with the help of Butler, whom Elliot said has been an avid angler for nearly seven years.

Elliott and the rest of the group were hoping to catch a swordfish out on the water that day, he said.

They headed 60 miles out from the shore, which is quite far out for an average fishing trip, Elliott said.

“We were dropping squid about 2,000 feet down, and we didn’t realize we had a fish on [the line],” he recalled.


Jeremiah Elliott, 31, owner of Geronimo Tackle, was joined by Zachary Elliott, his brother, and his fishing buddies, Chandler Butler and Trevor Burns
Jeremiah Elliott, 31, was joined by Zachary Elliott, his brother, and his fishing buddies, Chandler Butler and Trevor Burns, on his 30-foot regulator center console 60 miles out from the shores of Morehead, North Carolina.
Jeremiah Elliott

When fishing for swordfish, a fisherman will put a 12-pound weight on the line in order to keep the bait close to the bottom of the ocean floor, according to Elliot.

“When you bring a fish up from that depth, a lot of times their stomachs expand, and they float,” he said.

“We didn’t even know there was anything on [the line] until it came to the top,” he added.

Elliott said he and his fellow anglers were unable to identify the species of fish at first.

“We had never caught one before. [We had] only seen pictures of it,” Elliott said.

“It’s a weird looking fish,” he added. “It’s like prehistoric, almost.”


Bigscale Pomfret (Taractichthys Longipinnis)
Elliot and his fellow fisherman caught a Bigscale Pomfret (Taractichthys Longipinnis) that weighed 26 pounds and 11.4 ounces.
Jeremiah Elliott

They pulled in the deep-water catch and made the 2½-hour boat ride back to Morehead.

As the North Carolina anglers approached the shore, their cell service kicked in — and they immediately started looking into the unique looking fish they’d caught.

Elliott discovered he had caught a bigscale pomfret (Taractichthys longipinnis).

The bigscale pomfret can be found deep in the Atlantic Ocean and is the largest species in the pomfret family, according to the fact-checked online encyclopedia, Britannica.com.

The fish can reach a length of 35 inches, the site also states.

“It’s very rare to catch them in North Carolina. People catch them in Florida,” Elliot claimed.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries reported that Elliott set the official record in North Carolina for the bigscale pomfret, as no previous records for that species exist in the state, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality government website.

The current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record for the bigscale promfret is “listed at 20-pound 10-ounces caught in Florida in 2004,” the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries reported.

Elliot had a feeling that he “significantly” broke the current record, he noted.

Elliott and his fellow anglers took the bigscale pomfret to the nearest weigh station, where the fish measured 26 pounds and 11.4 ounces. 

The weight is noted in the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ state record media release.

Elliott is currently working with the IGFA for the official world record title, he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to the IGFA and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries for comments on the current status of the record and further information about the bigscale pomfret species.

After the fish had been in the cooler for a few days following the state’s approval, Elliott and his friends treated themselves to a victory meal, with the record-breaking bigscale pomfret as the main course, Elliott said.

Elliott said he and his friends enjoy fishing nearly every weekend and even do “commercial fishing in the fall for giant bluefin tuna.”

“Our lives are pretty much all for fishing here in North Carolina, outside of day-to-day work,” he added.

In comparison to only a few mahi-mahi that they caught earlier that day, the bigscale pomfret was the highlight of the fishing trip, Elliot noted.

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