Hugh McMillan has a whale of a fish tale to tell.

Hugh McMillan has a whale of a fish tale to tell.

Daughter Lynn Acosta has the photos to back him up.

The black drum that gave McMillan his story and Acosta her pictures had his life spared to maybe give some other fisherman or woman one heck of a fight one day soon.

McMillan, a resident of Grove City, and his wife, Sharon Sealock, visited McMillan's daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Tony Acosta, in Port Aransas, Texas, Feb. 26 to March 6. A year earlier, McMillan said, he and his daughter had jointly purchased a recreational vehicle on a campground site near Cline's Landing Pier, a famed fishing point in the coastal Texas town.

McMillan, who mostly does his fishing here in Ohio, and son-in-law Tony Acosta went out on the pier on a Saturday seeking catfish, not the hardhead variety that's not good to eat but the gafftop cat that is. Between them they caught seven that day, average around five pounds. They caught still more the following day.

It was a few days later, McMillan recalled, specifically March 3, according to his daughter, that the two fishermen returned to the scene of their earlier triumphs, hoping for history to repeat itself.

"Nobody's hitting anything," McMillan said. "Nothing's biting."

Around 5:30 p.m., Sealock said that she was going to return to the RV to start preparing dinner. McMillan said he told his son-in-law they'd give it another half hour, because then it would be time to eat.

Dinner was late.

It was 15 minutes after his wife departed that something was attracted to McMillan's line. It weighed way more than five pounds.

"I hooked into this sucker," McMillan said. "He hit this thing and, man, I had me a battle."

It was a battle that raged for 20 minutes until McMillan was even able to drag the fish up next to the pier. There was no way to pull it up with the rod and reel, and his son-in-law wasn't strong enough by himself to haul the fish up in his dip net, but another man on the pier came to his aid.

Everyone else had stopped to watch.

"They couldn't believe it," McMillan said.

The black drum, also called a Texas drum, a member of the croaker family, was 38 inches long.

McMillan estimated its weight at 40 pounds or more.

That's one heck of a fish, but nothing near the record, according to the Web site of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

"The largest black drum on record weighed 146 pounds," the site states.

McMillan's fish will get an opportunity to try to reach such epic proportions.

"After the photos were taken, the big bruiser was released back into the ship channel to fight another day," daughter Lynn Acosta wrote in an e-mail.

"I tell you, I'm 77 and that's the biggest thrill I ever had fishing," McMillan said.