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New Maryland record set for sheepshead

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BALTIMORE, MD—A Somerset County resident has officially been recognized by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a new state fishing record in the Chesapeake Bay Division for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus).

Brian Summerlin, of Princess Anne, caught the 16.6-pound fish September 17 in Tangier Sound off Crisfield in about 15 feet of water. Summerlin was targeting sheepshead using soft crab rigged on a sliding sinker “fishfinder rig” with an 8/0 circle hook, and a spinning rod with 60-pound braid and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader. He had been catching a mix of black drum, striped bass, bluefish and other species before encountering the eventual record-breaker.

“I thought it was a black drum at first, due to the way the fish was fighting with some big head shakes, but then I saw it was a very large sheepshead as it surfaced near the boat,” Summerlin said. After landing the fish, he checked the fish in for preliminary weight and photographs at Sea Hawk Sports Center in Pocomoke City. He knew the fish was a “contender” after checking the state’s current state records online.

The sheepshead’s weight was confirmed on a certified scale at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge, and it was measured at 26.25 inches in total length. Summerlin’s catch broke the previous record of 14.1 pounds set by Daniel Mastronardi Jr. in August 2020.

The department maintains state records for sport fish in four divisions – Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive – and awards plaques to anglers who achieve record catches. Anglers who think they have a potential record catch should download and fill out the state record application and call 443-569-1398 or email [email protected]. The department recommends the fish be immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.

Photo via Brian Summerlin

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