Very few have. And Wolfe is the only Virginian to know precisely what a fish that size feels like on the other end of a line. The beast weighed in at 74 pounds,one pound heavier than the soon-to-be-former record set by Fred Barnes nearly four years ago. Wolfe’s fish was 57 3/4 inches long and had a girth of 32 inches.
Connecticut native Greg Myerson set the world record back in August with an 81.88-pound rockfish.
Wolfe,56,said when he’s looking to wet a line, he tends to stay around Manassas,where he’s lived all of his life. “I like to fish the local waters for crappie,bass,bluegill,catfish.”
But his brother-in-law,Richard White,lives in Chesapeake,and he invited Wolfe and his father down for a charter trip with Cannon,a friend from their days working together at the now-shuttered Ford plant in Norfolk.
They motored out of Long Bay Pointe Marina around noon Friday and fished for a while off Virginia Beach. That’s when another captain called him to say the fish were feeding off of Cape Henry.
“He said,’You need to come up here,there’s a bite going on,'” Cannon remembers. “I would have been in a completely different area and none of this would have happened.”
At the new location,Cannon said,they were one of maybe 100 boats. They decided to troll two sets of white parachute rigs. The rod nearest Wolfe bent down,and he pulled it out of its holder.
“It was on from there,” he said.
Wolfe fought the fish for 15 minutes,but he said it wasn’t the epic fight you might expect from a record-breaking fish.
“You couldn’t feel much head bobbing or anything,” he said. “It was kind of like pulling a tire through the water.”
Getting the fish to the boat wasn’t without drama though. Twice,she could have slipped away.
“The first time,the line went slack for a minute,” Cannon said. “Then it immediately tightened back up. We didn’t know it at the time,but the hook was down in her throat. It came out of her throat and caught her again in the lip.”
Then,when they got her to the boat,she was too big for the net. When Cannon told Wolfe to maneuver the fish so he could net her head, the line snapped. The fish was just laying across the net. Even a half-hearted attempt would have allowed it to swim away.
“I’m saying,’Please don’t flop out,'” Cannon said,with a laugh. “Then she slowly sunk down into the net where her head was deep enough that I could come up under her.”
Cannon and Wolfe knew they had a big one, but they didn’t know how big until they got it back to the marina’s scales. Then they went from a couple of guys with a nice fish to instant celebrities.
“It was a madhouse,” said Cannon. “Within three minutes,I had people calling me on the phone. I didn’t get out of there until 9:30.”