Phillip Ladner knew he had a big catch when he hauled in a stingray that covered the bottom of his boat.
The trick, then was getting him to the scales Tuesday.
Ladner, a Waveland resident, said he caught the 149 pound, 9 ounce ray in the Louisiana marsh after a 30-45 minute fight. It overtook a 112-pound, 5-ounce entry caught by Tito Lopez of Carriere earlier in the tournament.
But by the time he got to the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the scales were closed.
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“We had to take it home, so we bought a kiddie pool from Walmart and iced him down in the kiddie pool overnight in the back of my truck and brought him in,” Ladner said. “Thankfully, he held most of his weight, I’m assuming, and he took over first place so far.”
Ladner said the stingray touched both sides of his 19-foot NauticStar boat, so he knew he had a good-sized catch.
Now, he’ll have to wait until the scales close at 4 p.m. to find out if he his catch holds up.
A pending state record brought in by Sherman Roberts also on Tuesday could also compete in the ugliest fish competition.
Robert’s said he caught the 3-pound, 2-ounce toadfish south of Horn Island.
“I was going to throw him back,” Roberts said, “but the deckhand said ‘that a pretty big one, you better keep it.”
The toadfish is also known as an oyster dog.
Gary Mays of Vancleave took over first place in two categories Tuesday just over an hour before the scales closed.
Mays’ 29-pound, 11-ounce jack crevalle bested Ryan Rockholt’s 28-pound, 9-ouncer, but Mays was most excited about his speckled trout.
He caught the 7-pound, 3-ounce fish off of Horn Island on Saturday, he said. The jack was caught just south of the rigs.
There’s only been one tuna brought in so far. John McMahan of Biloxi said he caught his 38-pound, 10-ounce tuna using live bait.
The bream category was a family affair with 10-year-old Haley Smith of Saucier beating out her brother, Bradley, 10, by one ounce with a 1-pound, 11-ounce fish. It was the second time she beat her older brother during the tournament. The siblings finished one-two in the kids rodeo on Saturday.
Logan Terwillger of Gulfport took first in the tuna category with an 84-pound, 8-ounce entry. Mark Alan Ros of Pascagoula came in late to overtake Mandy Tillman in the barracuda category with a 24-pound, 12-ounce entry. Tillman was second with an 18 pound, 8 ounce entry.
Dennis Adams of D’Iberville brought in a 91-pound, 13-ounce alligator gar that he caught in Biloxi Back Bay using mullet as bait. He bumped his brother-in-law, Curtis Adams of St. Martin off the board with the entry.
“It’s the only fish I fish for every year,” he said.
All state records must be certified by the state Department of Marine Resources before they are official.