An angler landed a potential world record tautog in Maryland on an annual fishing trip in January.
Despite a life-altering injury four years ago, Kenneth Westerfeld of Queens, New York was able enough to catch a potential world record fish known as the tautog or blackfish.
“I mean, we catch these [fish] up here in New Jersey and New York, too, but they’re much fewer and farther in between in these gargantuan sizes,” Westerfeld told the Washington Post.
Landing the Record Tautog
Hooked into a special chair and equipped with knee and back braces, Westerfeld fought the three-foot, 28.8-pound record tautog for an estimated five to eight minutes.
“They just pound,” Westerfeld said. The record tautog fought its way to the bottom of the 75-foot-deep water, from which Westerfeld had to reel it back in yard after yard.
Every few feet he gave me a good thumping along the way up.
His four friends were able to net the fish onto the boat in the end. The charter boat captain’s 25-pound scale was quickly overwhelmed.
Westerfeld remarked, “The words ‘world record’ were being used even in the first two minutes.”
New World Record?
Westerfeld’s record tautog has already beat the Maryland state record by almost six pounds. However, he is awaiting scoring by the International Game Fish Association to see if it officially beats the previous world record of 25 pounds.
Westerfeld enjoys cooking tautog, saying, “[it] is a very delicious fish, because their diet is made up of all this stuff that we love. They eat shellfish. They eat crabs and lobster and shrimp…I prepare blackfish probably 50 different ways.”
However, this particular fish is destined for the wall of his den, and currently resides at the taxidermist.
“My dream was to catch a 20-pounder,” he said, “I’ve dreamt about that for quite a while.”