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Greg Marquart of Macclesfield, N.C., just knew he was going to land a monster when he entered and set out for Barden Inlet on May 15 for the Cobia Challenge in Atlantic Beach that’s put on by Chasin’ Tails Outdoors.

He and his partner, Alex Chandler of Clayton, caught what they were after; a 96-pound, 57-inch behemoth. Not only is their cobia the fish to beat, it’s the biggest anyone’s caught in the entire six years of the tournament!

Since the tournament is set to end on June 18, it looks like they could very well be the winners, but with nearly three weeks to go, anything could happen.

Marquart and Clayton put out an array of baits into the channel when they arrived around 10 a.m.

“Around 12 o’clock, we caught one that weighed about 30 pounds and released it,” Marquart said. “A couple hours later, we went in and got a fresh load of bait, came back and fished. Around 5 o’clock, we caught another one that we released, and 30 minutes later we caught one that weighed 54 pounds.”

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It wasn’t until nearly six that the 96-pounder hit, taking the bait on one of Marquart’s rods, which was a spinning outfit spooled with 85-pound braid that connected to a 100-pound mono leader, tied to a 7/0 J-hook, and anchored in place by a 6-ounce egg sinker.

“The rod took off screaming and I picked it up. It ran about 150 yards. I wasn’t sure what I had, but it felt like it was a cobia. Then, he turned and jumped out of the water. When he jumped, I said, ‘Get everything out of the water, it’s a big one.'”

After making a run for the boat, Marquart regained most of his line. The actual fight, a large portion of which was fought under the boat, was relatively short at only 20 minutes long. As soon as they got it withing gaff range, they hoisted it on board and sped back to Atlantic Beach for weigh in.

“I was very surprised when he weighed 96 pounds,” said Marquart.  “I thought he was in the eighties. I’ve caught cobia that were longer, but this one was really fat.”

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