After waiting through two weeks of the rockfish season to get out on the water, Devin Nolan, a 12-year-old honor student from North Carroll Middle School, went out with his dad this past Saturday and landed a state record, 67-pound, 8-ounce rockfish.
On opening day, Devin couldn't go fishing with his dad, Mark Nolan of Hampstead, because he was taking tests. On the following two Saturdays, previous commitments kept the seventh-grader off the water.
This past Saturday, before they left Sandy Point State Park in their 22-foot boat, Devin and his dad made a deal -- Devin would fish until he caught a keeper.
"We were trolling off Bloody Point, east to west," said Devin, who has a black belt in karate and instructs youngsters at a studio in Hampstead. "And we had already caught and released a 29-incher, which was as big as any rockfish I had ever caught.
"But when the big one hit, boom, the rod went down almost to the gunwale. It took almost an hour to get him in. Every time I would reel in 5 yards, it would run out 10."
The record, which was confirmed by the Department of Natural Resources yesterday, was 52 inches long and had a girth of 30 inches.
The previous record of 64 pounds, 11 ounces was set May 14, 1992, by Allan Sosolau of Edgewater.
The International Game Fish Association's world record is 78 pounds, 8 ounces, caught off Atlantic City, N.J., in 1982.
Mark Nolan said he, Devin and longtime fishing buddy Bob Crew of Abingdon were trolling chartreuse parachute lures with chartreuse eel trailers at The Hole, an area of the shipping channel between Bloody Point and Thomas Point, when the fish hit about 9:45 a.m.
The morning was sunny, the wind light.
"Just the kind of day that can blow all your theories of cloudy days being best for fishing," said Mark Nolan. "Every once in a while, I guess the skies just part and Jesus smiles down on an old Irishman.
"He sure smiled on us on Saturday."
Mark Nolan said he, Devin and Crew have caught six keepers under 30 pounds during the spring season, in which rockfish must be at least 32 inches long.
"But this one, my gosh," said Mark Nolan, "I haven't slept for two days since Devin caught it. We were hoping to make the 30-pound club one day, but when it rolled over the side it dawned on me that we really had something there."
Still, Mark Nolan said, none aboard thought there was a state record fish in the boat.
"We had left the big scale at home," said Mark Nolan, who along with Devin is a member of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, "so we didn't really know how big it was.
"We did know that none of us had ever seen a fish this big, other than what we see in the aquariums."
The fish was so big, in fact, that it did not fit in any of the family coolers, and the Nolans have carted it around in the family boat for the past few days.
"I was shocked when I heard about it," said Devin's mother, Donna Nolan. "I was on my way out to a Little League game when Mark called, and he was all but incoherent. In fact, he dropped the phone when they weighed it.
"I do know that I was a little concerned that they were going to try to bring that big, slimy thing into my house and put it in my refrigerator."
Devin, who was fishing a 30-pound outfit and was not assisted while fighting the fish, is content with owning the state-record catch.
"This is just perfect as it is now," said Devin, who is 5 feet 1 and weighs 97 pounds.
PD "Best of all, it is great that rockfish like this one are back."