Only two days into the new year, two Maryland anglers caught state record fish.
Kenneth Westerfeld of New York was able to catch a state (and potential world) record fish 20 miles southeast of Ocean City, Maryland.
The 28.8-pound tautog was caught in 75 feet of water, reportedly on a Jonah crab rigged on a 7’2″ Calstar Custom rod, with 50-pound braided running line and a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader on a Shimano Tymos reel.
“Ocean City is the best place for big tautog,” said Westerfeld. “The water clarity is very good and the offshore wrecks hold some really big fish.”
Clearly, as Maryland’s previous state record was a 23-pound tautog caught by Charles Donohue near Ocean City in 2012.
Keith Lockwood, a fisheries biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, examined and confirmed Westerfeld’s fish as the new state record. However, Westerfeld is awaiting scoring by the International Game Fish Association to see if it officially beats the previous all-tackle world record of 25 pounds.
Westerfeld now plans to get out after some (hopefully) even bigger fish.
Maryland has the most prolific tautog fishery. I believe there is a bigger one out there.
State Record Chain Pickerel
Not far away near Salisbury, Maryland, angler Lee Haile III caught a state record fish as well on an unnamed Eastern Shore pond.
The eight-pound chain pickerel was caught on light spinning tackle with eight-pound braided running line, a 20-pound monofilament leader, and a minnow/jig combo lure.
According to Haile, the fish did much to avoid the boat, including taking long runs, circling the boat twice, dodging the net, and diving under the boat.
“I’ve been fishing for pickerel for over 38 years, and I just knew this one was exceptional,” Haile said. “When I saw the fish in the boat, I said that we needed to go in because this could be a record fish.”
Keith Lockwood of Maryland DNR Fisheries met Haile near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to confirm the species and record. The pickerel supersedes the previous seven-pound, four-ounce record set by Roy Molick Jr. in 1976.
However, it does not beat the current world record chain pickerel of nine pounds, four ounces caught in 1961 in Georgia.
Seems like Maryland is the state to fish in!