What a catch

Joey Baird, right, of Gasburg is awaiting the final word that his 121-pound catfish caught Fourth of July weekend on Lake Gaston will be the new North Carolina record. (Photo courtesy of Bait & Wait Outdoors)

Donation made to Gasburg VFD

By Kellen Holtzman

Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer

If you’re local to Lake Gaston, it’s hard to tell what the most impressive part of Joey Baird’s story is. 
Is it Baird’s Lake Gaston catch itself? It's a mammoth 121-pound, 9-ounce blue catfish, which Baird and others expect to be confirmed as the new North Carolina record for blues.

How about the fact that while Baird is a veteran fisherman, he was motivated to go out that Sunday night on Fourth of July weekend as a favor to folks new to the area, who ended up playing key roles in the historic haul.

What about Baird’s plan to donate a $10K prize for the record to the Gasburg Volunteer Fire Department, of which he is a member, to help buy its first rescue boat?

Or maybe it’s how Baird, a Brunswick County native, has morphed into a local celebrity, most recently the subject of a WRAL-TV feature, after a couple of weeks of drawing scores of praise online that included being the star of videos that were picking up anywhere from 14-87K views.

Really, it’s probably all of those things.

By nature, Baird is quick to deflect attention, but he has balanced that by being generous with his time and willing to share a story that the fishing and sporting communities, along with the people around Lake Gaston, have been eager to learn about.

Let’s start with that fish.

A record?

Officially, the state record still currently belongs to Landon Evans, who caught a 117-pounder in 2016.

For now.

Baird said an official state biologist has confirmed the new record.

“Oh, I’m pretty confident about it,” Baird said last Wednesday. “He’s confirmed everything. I talked to him this morning. He said normally it takes a month or a little more before everything is processed.”

Baird lives near Gasburg, but caught the fish on the North Carolina side of the lake that has produced the last four state blue catfish records. Good luck getting him to tell you more than that.

“If I tell folks where I’m at, I’m gonna have 20 boats down there tomorrow,” Baird said, laughing.

He’s probably right about that.

The Virginia record for blue catfish also happens to be the world record, a 143-pounder caught in Buggs Island Lake by Nick Anderson in 2011.

Baird’s previous personal best was an 84-pounder. That should be one of your first clues that he knows what he’s doing out there.

To read the entire article pick up the July 29, 2020 edition of the Brunswick Times-Gazette.