Ten-year-old Teddy Wingfield plays football, golf and soccer. He swims in the summer and rides dirt bikes year-round, competing in motocross.
But fishing earned him a world record.
The Lookout Mountain School fourth-grader caught a 32-pound scamp off the coast of Atlantic Beach, N.C., on June 2, when he was still 9, and the International Game Fishing Association officially approved it as an all-tackle world record on Oct. 4. The previous scamp standard of 29 pounds, 10 ounces was set in 2000 out from Mobile, Ala.
A scamp is related to a grouper, and the average size is 8-10 pounds, with 12-15 considered big, according to Teddy's father, Joseph Wingfield, who took him and younger brothers Wilder and Hank on the two-day trip with Joseph's first cousin — and fellow 1994 McCallie School graduate — Daniel Brisson as the captain and Brisson's daughter Rebecca also on board.
Teddy's big one — half his own weight — also was certified as a North Carolina record, naturally. It was the first fish reeled in during the outing.
"Captain Daniel said he thought it could be a state record and we should go back in right away (to start the certification procedure), but we said we wanted to catch more fish," recalled Teddy, who's enjoyed the family passion since he "could hold a fishing rod."
The catch was on a Thursday morning, and he soon added another sizable scamp, estimated at 17-20 pounds. The Wingfields caught additional species, stayed on the boat that night and fished most of Friday with the potential record fish on ice in the kill box.
"When you pull one up from 175 feet, it's basically dead when it gets to the top," Joseph Wingfield said.
The record-breaker still highlights some meals for the family, which also includes mom Beth and two younger brothers.
"Scamp is about the best eating fish there is," said Joseph, who runs the Wingfield Scale Co. started by his grandfather. "It's like grouper but a little lighter, a little sweeter."
"And not as flaky," Teddy added. "It's perfect."
He admitted that he's now "looking at" the 42-pound world record for a red grouper.
For his record scamp, the Wingfields were fishing over a big wrecked boat about 30 miles out from the coast. They started out with electric reels and got into some good-sized fish that took their lines into the wreckage and broke them, so they switched to jigging gear.
With a Barefoot jig shrimp decoy that apparently landed on sand outside the wreckage, Teddy made the record catch with a Penn jigging rod, a Canyon jigging reel and 60-pound braid line.
"I knew I got something big, because it just about pulled me in," he related. "I asked Dad for help, and he told me I could do it."
With Joseph shouting encouragement and Brisson electronically keeping tabs on the fish, Teddy got the big scamp on the boat after about 20 minutes.
"It felt like three hours," he said.
"About halfway up the fish gave up and I thought he got off the line, but Captain Daniel said he saw it and we needed to get it on the boat."
Brisson did help in the pulling-aboard process with a gaff. They tried to weigh the scamp, but it broke the captain's tube scale.
The next night when they returned to the marina they put the scamp on a beam scale and confirmed that it indeed shattered the previous state record of just over 27 pounds. They had dinner and slept and awoke Saturday morning to bigger news.
"Daniel said there's been a development," Joseph said. "We were looking at a world record."
A second official weigh station confirmed the 32 pounds, and the IGFA quickly was alerted and quickly started its investigative process.
"It was very thorough," Joseph Wingfield said.
The result was a world record for a Brisson client about a month after he began taking charters as his own boss, in a boat he bought in January.
"I've been really big into fishing for a long time, and a guy I fished with for 20 years was retiring," Brisson said. "I got my captain's license last year and worked with him and then took over his business this year.
"Getting a world record was pretty exciting. I was really happy for Teddy. I like taking kids fishing anyway, and it was extra special out there with family. This was something he can talk about forever.
"At one point that fish blew its air bladder and came to the surface, and at the time I knew it was the biggest scamp I ever saw. When he asked for help I knew the fish couldn't get off at that point and I said let him have fun with it — he doesn't need help. It was a good fight for him."
The young record-holder actually downplayed his effort.
"I just started reeling when the fish got on my hook," Teddy said. "Captain Daniel does a great job of putting us on the fish."
Said Teddy's dad: "Yeah, I would give Daniel a lot of the credit. I would say God first, Captain Daniel second and Teddy third. But Teddy really wrestled with that fish."
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.