CRESTON, N.C. — It was a team effort that landed 13-year-old Victoria Navaroli a state record fish from a private pond in Creston.
In the early morning hours of July 12, the 13-year-old Charlotte girl watched as her big brother Jack baited his hook with ¼ of a nightcrawler and then handed his fishing rod to her.
Two casts later, Victoria reeled in the record-breaking green sunfish.
The fish weighed 1 pound, 15 ounces and measured 12 inches in length, breaking the previous state record, held since 2008 by Sean Vanderburg, by 1 ounce.
While some brothers might not appreciate the irony of handing over a rod and reel to watch a sibling reel in a state record fish, Jack was very excited for her, according to Victoria.
“Jack loves fishing and would have wanted to catch it, but he was happy for me,” she said, adding that Jack suspected the fish might be a state record after she landed it.
“We were planning to eat the fish and he took one look at it and told me ‘I wouldn’t eat that fish — it could be record breaker,’” Victoria said. “Thank goodness we didn’t eat it.”
She and her parents Renate and David had the fish weighed on certified scales at Berrybrook Farm the next day. Lawrence Dorsey, a fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Commission, examined and certified the fish.
To qualify for a N.C. freshwater fish state record, anglers must have caught the fish by rod and reel or cane pole, have the fish weighed on a scale certified by the N.C. Department of Agriculture, witnessed by one observer, have the fish certified by a fisheries biologist from the Commission, and submit an application with a full, side-view photo of the fish.
For anglers who catch a green sunfish that doesn’t quite measure up to this latest record-breaker but is 9 inches or longer or weighs 1 pound or more, the Commission has a green sunfish classification for its North Carolina Angler Recognition Program. NCARP officially recognizes anglers who catch trophy-sized freshwater fish that do not qualify for a state record with a certificate featuring color reproductions of fish art by renowned wildlife artist and former Commission fisheries biologist Duane Raver.