A woman competing in a recent fishing competition off Louisiana reeled up a monstrous stingray that might earn the angler a coveted spot in the listing of state records.
Bebe McElroy’s giant southern stingray weighed 185 pounds, and if the catch is approved by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it will shatter the current record.
The LOWA lists a 141.31-pound stingray, caught by Hunter Andras in 2004, as the current record.
Bebe McElroy’s stingray was larger than her, but she was seemingly unperturbed by the sight of the eerie-looking behemoth as it materialized beneath a boat she shared with her husband, Victor.
“For years, Vic and I have been catching these stingrays and bringing them to various rodeos for miscellaneous largest fish,” McElroy told the Louisiana Sportsman. “People were scared to death of them; they wouldn't get within 10 feet of a little bitty stingray. It's not going to hurt you.
“I think that we've been to several rodeos, and people have figured out you can bring these things in and you don't have to be afraid of them.”
The couple was fishing in the Desk and Derrick Club’s Diva Rodeo, a competition in which prizes are awarded in various categories.
For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Association lists a 240-pound southern stingray as the all-tackle world record. That was also caught by a woman, Carissa Egger, in Galveston Bay, Texas, in 1998.
McElroy said that her intention all along was to catch a huge stingray, but she had no idea she’d latch onto a potential record breaker.
However, she added: “That fish has been a target for almost 30 years. It was so much fun. I get all excited. I get verklempt just talking about it. But, it was just a thrill of a lifetime.”
(Verklempt, in German, means to be chocked with emotion.)
As for stingray fishing in Louisiana, it has been especially productive this season. Steve McNemar, the fish records chairman for the LOWA, said that catches of 152 and 133 pounds were submitted recently.
“Evidently, the stingrays have been eating well or nothing has been eating them,” McNemar said.