It’s official now — the hammer 18.63-pound mangrove snapper Tim Champagne landed this summer  out of Cocodrie is now the International Game Fish Association’s new world record holder for the category.

“Jack Vitek is in charge of the records for IGFA, and he had been in contact with me because it takes so long,” Champagne said Friday afternoon. “Every two or three weeks I’d shoot him an email and he’d be in touch. He told me it would be around October, and I sent him an email at the beginning of the week to check in.

“He told me it shouldn’t be long, and a couple days later he sent me an email saying everything was approved.”

Champagne, 47, caught the 31 ⅞-inch fish on July 22 at a platform in Ship Shoal 222 out of Cocodrie on a free-lined live croaker with some friends aboard Capt. Andre Boudreaux’s boat.

“We were fishing with croaker on the top — no weight, no nothing, just floating. When I hooked on to it, I really didn’t know what I had. We had been fishing pretty much all morning, and I hooked into it and it really didn’t give that much of a big fight. It was just a typical mangrove battle, just like the rest of the mangroves we had caught,” Champagne said in July. “That’s what made it so funny. When it came up to the surface, the deckhand saw the size of the fish. He went to net it, and he had trouble getting it into the net.

“That’s when Capt. André saw the size of it. We took a couple of pictures of it and didn’t think a whole bunch about it, then we went ahead and weighed it. On the Boga-Grip, it was almost 19 pounds.”

Champagne’s fish replaces the previous world record holder, Steve Maddox from Port Canaveral, Fla., who caught a 17-pounder in 1992.

The big snapper has already been certified through the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association as the new state record. It easily surpassed the 14.36-pounder caught by Michael W. Lorio Sr. in June, 1998 to take Louisiana’s top spot.

He received his replica mount of the fish last month, and now is just waiting for his certificate and world record patch from IGFA.

“It’s been a pretty good ride,” Champagne said. “It’s been fun.”