OCEAN CITY, MD—Two new records for new species have been established in the Atlantic Division of the Maryland state fishing records program.
Angler Chris Stafford of Cherry Hill, N.J. caught a pompano dolphinfish (Coryphaena equiselis) weighing 2.0 pounds on September 20, and Ellicott City resident Stephen Humphrey caught a great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) weighing 13.0 pounds on October 6. Both fish were caught off the coast of Ocean City.
Pompano Dolphinfish Record
Stafford was working a school of dolphinfish at Poor Man’s Canyon and “bailing” them on light spinning tackle when he noticed that one of the dolphinfish that he caught looked slightly different from the others. Later on, back at the dock, one of the mates that works as a fish cutter at Bahia Marina also noticed that the general body shape and proportions of the fish were different from other dolphinfish. Stafford notified the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which identified the fish species.
The pompano dolphinfish is distinguished from a common dolphinfish based on a few key characteristics, including: a broad, squarish tooth patch, a body depth which is more than 25% of its standard length, an anal fin that is not concave and does not have sickle-fin shape, as well as a dorsal fin ray count which is lower than the dorsal ray counts found on common dolphinfish. This fish had 53 rays, compared with 58 to 66 in common dolphinfish. The weight of the pompano dolphinfish was confirmed on a certified scale at Bahia Marina, and it measured at 20 inches in fork length.
Great Barracuda Record
Humphrey was trolling for yellowfin tuna with a rigged skirted ballyhoo bait offshore at the Washington Canyon when a great barracuda struck the bait. He was fishing on the charter boat “Wrecker” with mate Cody Smith and Captain Bobby Layton.
A few stray barracuda have been caught off Maryland in recent years, but this fish was impressive in size. Department fishery managers expect to see more of this species in the future along with other southern visitors, such as cobia, king mackerel, sheepshead, and pompano with climate change and warming ocean water temperatures.
The weight of the barracuda was confirmed and certified at the Ocean City Fishing Center, and it was measured at 40 inches fork length and 42 inches total length.
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 a 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.
Top photo: Angler Chris Stafford of Cherry Hill, N.J. caught a pompano dolphinfish (Coryphaena equiselis) weighing 2.0 pounds on September 20, 2023. Photo courtesy of Chris Stafford.
Bottom photo: Ellicott City resident Stephen Humphrey caught a great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) weighing 13.0 pounds on October 6, 2023. Photo by Erik Zlokovitz.