Camp Hill, Pennsylvania resident Jeremy Gipe caught a potential World Record of a butterfly ray on June 30. The bowfisherman was fishing with friends Corey and Aaron Brossman, who run Brossman Boys Bowfishing, a charter company out of Delaware.
Gipe was fishing with Corey, Aaron, and two military veterans in Delaware Bay. According to Field and Stream, the group caught a cownose ray that day, but fishing was slow due to poor water clarity. They moved to another part of the bay, hoping for better conditions, and that’s when Gipe spotted something in the water.
“I happened to just see a light flash out of the corner of my eye that I thought was a bluefish,” he said. “Then, I saw the triangle shape of the butterfly ray. Honestly, I figured it was one of the 130- to 140-pounders we’d caught before.”
Gipe landed a solid hit with an arrow in the ray’s head. “When you shoot them in the head, for some reason they jump out of the water,” he explained. “This one came 4 or 5 inches out of the water. The other two gentlemen on the boat were able to get arrows into the ray then. It ran out about 60 yards before turning around and swimming back toward the boat.”
It took three men to haul the giant ray onto the boat once it was finally harpooned. Everyone was in for a shock; they didn’t realize how big it actually was. “I actually felt nauseous,” Gipe admitted. “I couldn’t believe it when I realized how big it was.”
Bowfisherman Lands Gigantic Butterfly Ray, Narrowly Beats Previous Record
The next morning, the group took measurements of the ray. It measured 7 feet, 4-1/8 inches long and came in at 222.54 pounds. The previous Bowfishing Association of America world record for a butterfly ray was 222.1 pounds, caught by Nick Sampson last year.
Gipe said this butterfly ray is the biggest creature he’s caught so far. They stripped the ray for meat, and Gipe explained what they’d use it for. “It’s very similar to crab,” he said. “We’ll fry it up and make it like pulled pork. We’ve also made it in different dips like a buffalo chicken or spinach dip.”
There are two kinds of butterfly ray, the smooth and the spiny. The smooth butterfly ray is of no danger, but the spiny ray does have a barb on the end of its tail. The butterfly ray is usually abundant in Delaware waters, which is where Gipe’s ray was caught. Although, his ray is of special significance because of its size; butterfly rays usually have a wingspan of 48 inches. This one had a wingspan of an incredible 88 inches. Truly unusual, but probably a pleasant surprise for this group of fishermen.