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July 21, 2010

Retired major general reels in major fish on the Chesapeake

Because Warren Magruder wasn't willing to part with a perfectly good bucktail lure Tuesday morning, he has a fish tale that might be told for years.

While trolling off Gibson Island at Belvidere Shoal, he latched onto a black drum, 50-inches long, 36-inches around and weighing about 70 pounds.

At first, he though he had hooked a ray. The common response by most fishermen is to cut the line.

"But I didn't want to lose that bucktail," said Magruder, who was fishing alone. So he fought on, a natural inclination for a retired Army major general.

Several times during the 20-minute struggle, the 82-year-old Pasadena resident thought he'd have to cut and run. "I have a 23-foot, center-console boat. He pulled my boat around and around," Magruder said.

He doubled down on his new Avet two-speed reel to make cranking easier. Then the fish's head broke the surface of the water.

"Oh my," Magruder recalled thinking.

Once he got the fish to the side of the boat, the general faced a logistical nightmare: getting the fish in the boat.

"I dipped my net down under him and got on my knees and finally rolled him in," he said.

Back on shore at his Bodkin Creek home, the retired general retired for the day. "I'm exhausted," he told me on the phone.

Neighbor Jack Streb spread the word, neighbors took photos and helped clean the fish--a garden hoe was enlisted to help with the scaling operation.

For Magruder, a fisherman since the 1930s, this was the first black drum he'd caught above the Bay Bridge.

The state record for black drum in the Chesapeake Bay is 103 pounds, 8 ounces, set in 1973. It was caught at Buoy 16 in the Choptank River.

Marty Gary, a state fisheries biologist, says black drum can be found in Eastern Bay at the southern end of Kent Island.

"I'd say that fish was pretty much at the northern edge of its range," Gary said. "It's kind of a drought year and salinity may be up. If you were going to catch one far north, this would be the year.

"It's an awesome story, an old man and the sea tale," said Gary. "It's really impressive."

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Posted by Candus Thomson at 11:46 AM | | Comments (5)
        

Comments

Good Grief!

That is one HUGE fish! Great story on a great catch!

Now that is a real man. I hope and wish they can still make generals of this timber!

A REEL wonderful man and neighbor :) Great job Warren. Thanks for the fillets. They were great!

Congratulatios General. Roger

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About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.
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