The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reports Kenneth Westerfeld of College Point, NY reeled in a 28.8-pound tautog (also called hoodfish) 20 miles southeast of Ocean City, a possible world record fish. The state’s previous record was a 23-pound tautog caught near Ocean City in 2012. The current world record is 25 pounds. The average tautog is about a foot long and a couple pounds, but they can live nearly 30 years.
“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. I’ve been fishing very hard for over 20 years to catch a 20 pound tog.”
Westerfeld was on a charter boat fishing a small wreck in 75 feet of water.Tautog are infamously tricky to catch because they feed among rocks and underwater structures where lines are easily snagged.
Meanwhile, Lee Haile III of Towson was catching and releasing chain pickerel with his son and a friend in an unnamed Eastern Shore pond near Salisbury when the line came tight to what turned out to be an eight pounder.
“I’ve been fishing for pickerel for over 38 years, and I just knew this one was exceptional,” he said.
According to Haile, the fish made a couple of strong 30-foot dashes, circled the boat twice, dodged the net, dove under the boat, and finally came onboard. “When I saw the fish in the boat, I said that we needed to go in because this could be a record fish.”
Chain pickerel is a fresh water type of pike. The average size is two-feet long and about three pounds.
Haile’s new record beat the previous seven-pound, four-ounce record set in 1976. The current world record is nine pounds, four ounces caught in 1961 in Georgia.
Both fish were caught on January 2, 2015.