Record of not, Metairie angler thrilled with huge bottomfish

This 33.13-pound speckled hind was caught by Ben LeBeouf of Metairie with CoCo Charters out of Cocodrie.

Ben LeBeouf of Metairie didn’t head out into the Gulf of Mexico on June 26 looking to break into the record books. Fishing with his sister, Anice Ramirez, and her husband, Angel, LeBeouf was just looking for a cooler full of tasty bottomfish when the trio headed offshore with captains Alex Sevin and Ross Caillouet of CoCo Charters out of Cocodrie.

Fishing in about 330 feet of water, about 90 miles southwest of Cocodrie, LeBeouf wound up catching the biggest speckled hind – a member of the grouper family – ever caught in Louisiana waters.

He wrestled to the surface a 33.13-pound speckled hind that sucked down a live menhaden on a piece of uneven, rocky bottom. Catching the fish took some great boatwork by Sevin and Caillouet, and LeBeouf – who had never gone offshore bottom-fishing before – did the rest on the rod. The result was a fish more than a pound heavier than the existing state record: a 32-pound fish caught by Blake Matherne out of South Pass in January 2010.

The only problem with the record? LeBeouf didn’t crank the 37-inch fish up from the bottom; his electric reel did the work, making relatively quick work of the fish but rendering it ineligible for the state record book.

“I’d like to have the record, but it doesn’t bother me that I won’t; I’m not disappointed in any way,” said LeBeouf. “We wouldn’t have caught half the fish we caught if we’d had to reel them up. If you are meat-hauling, (an electric reel) makes it a blast.”

Metairie’s Ben LeBeouf was on an offshore trip with his sister, Anice Ramirez, and her husband, Angel, when he landed this big speckled hind.

A successful trip

LeBeouf said his party caught yellowedge and yellowmouth grouper, a limit of red snapper and some vermillion snapper.

“This was my first time deep-dropping, and it was one of the best trips of my life – and I used to fish offshore all the time, especially when I was younger,” he said. “My father was a charter captain, and my brother Zachary is a captain.

“Can’t say enough about Alex and Ross; those guys were fantastic.”

Sevin had his party drifting over a stretch of broken bottom: ridges, rocks and some coral, when two of the rods got strikes. Both fish appeared almost immediately to be hung up on the bottom; Sevin said it was obvious they were grouper that had come out of holes in the bottom to grab the live menhaden baits – then gone back in their holes. That’s when the boatwork came in handy.

“(LeBeouf) hooked up, and I noticed his line tighten up and knew it was a grouper that had sucked back into his hole, then another rod tightened up,” Sevin said. “We got that one in; it was a yellowedge grouper. We started backing up on the fish and got the line straightened out. We kept it up, and we must have pulled just right and got him out of his little hole.

“It took about 5 minutes to get him out of his hold, then another 4 or 5 minutes to get him up. He pulled a little drag to start with, then he gave up and came up.”

Capt. Alex Sevin of CoCo Charters holds the giant speckled hind caught by Ben LeBeouf on June 26.

A rare fish

Sevin, who said he’d never caught a speckled hind before or had one caught on a charter, thought when he first saw the fish, still a ways down in the water column, that it might be a warsaw grouper, but when it came closer to the surface, he recognized it as a speckled hind.

“We knew what we were looking at,” Sevin said. “When we got it closer to the surface, we realized it was a speckled hind. They didn’t understand what they had when we flipped it in the boat. I’d never seen one before – I’d only seen pictures of them – and to see one that size….”

Sevin had the fish weighed and measured when the trip returned to Cocodrie Marina. It was officially 33.13 pounds and 37 inches long. There was no flexible tape measure to get a girth measurement with, but Sevin measured the fish as 15 ½ inches from the top of its back to its belly, and it was 14 inches thick.

LeBeouf gave his sister abundant credit for the excursion’s success.

“We grew up in Houma, and she lives in Texas now, but she comes back about every year or two to fish,” he said. “We usually fish out of Venice when we go offshore, but she wanted to go out or Cocodrie, so she decided to charter out of Cocodrie Marina. It’s been 10 years since I’d been offshore, but she wanted to deep-drop.”