Each year, state records are toppled in the sport of fishing. Every now and then, an angler makes a substantial enough catch to reign for a few years but, generally, state-record catches are a game of ounces and inches. In some cases, we’ve seen state records established for new or exotic species, like Great Barracuda in Connecticut or pompano dolphinfish in Maryland. No matter where you are on the Atlantic coast, the potential to become a state-record holder adds an extra element of excitement to every drop or cast made. Here are some of the noteworthy state-record catches of 2023 from Maine to Chesapeake Bay.
Connecticut: 19-pound Great Barracuda
In late August, Jon Rogers of Niantic, Connecticut, set out with Paul Lavezzoli and Jim Sullivan to troll for bluefin tuna along a line of temperature breaks 25 miles south of Montauk. Just after sunrise, as they moved to pull in their short starboard tracker bar, a fish took it and ran. What they initially thought was a mahi-mahi or wahoo ended up being a 19-pound barracuda that later claimed the Connecticut state record under DEEP’s Exotic Marine Species category.
New Jersey: 67-pound King Mackerel
After experiencing engine troubles on the tuna grounds off New Jersey in late July, Dominic and Joseph Vricella limped their way back to Manasquan, New Jersey, on one engine. As a consolation, they trolled a couple of Clark spoons alongside a spreader bar on the way home, hoping to hook a few Spanish mackerel. However, the father/son duo ended up with more than they bargained for: a massive, 67-pound king mackerel that toppled the previous state record by nearly 14 pounds.
Connecticut: 15-pound Summer Flounder (Fluke)
On June 8, Bill Proulx of Ashford, Connecticut, set the new state record for summer flounder with a doormat fluke he caught in Niantic Bay. The girth of this 32.6-inch flatfish measured just 6 inches less than its total length, besting the previous Connecticut state record by less than a pound and only a few inches.
New Jersey: 17-pound, 12-ounce Hybrid Striped Bass
While fishing for walleye in Monksville Reservoir on May 24, Jim Piascik hooked the New Jersey state-record hybrid striped bass just after midnight. His 17-pound, 12-ounce fish replaced the short-lived previous state record—a 16 pounder that held the title for only 227 days.
Maryland: 16.6-pound Sheepshead (Chesapeake Division)
On September 17, Brian Summerlin of Somerset County was fishing aboard the Princess Anne in Chesapeake Bay, catching a mix of striped bass, bluefish, and black drum when he hooked a 16.6-pound sheepshead. After weighing it at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge, it was confirmed that Summerlin’s catch toppled the previous Maryland state record in the Chesapeake Division—a 14.1-pound fish caught by Daniel Mastronardi in the summer of 2020.
Maryland: 2-pound Pompano Dolphinfish
While catching dolphinfish one after another on light tackle at Poor Man’s Canyon, Chris Stafford of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, hooked into a strange-looking mahi. The deep-bodied fish had a lower dorsal ray count than is typical for mahi-mahi, among other distinguishing features that helped the Department of Natural Resources identify it as a pompano dolphinfish back at the dock. The odd catch was recorded at Bahia Marina, where it measured 20 inches and weighed 2 pounds.
Maine: 7-pound, 13.2-ounce Tautog
When Brian Boyt of Westbrook, Maine, had a bite on a 10-inch live mackerel on a 9/0 circle hook, a tautog was just about the last thing he expected. The predatory tog ended up being 7 pounds, 13.2 ounces, two-tenths of an ounce heavier than the current record held for the past decade by Chris Morrell.
Pending State Records
Connecticut: 25.78-pound Tautog
Aiden Cole was tautog fishing with Captain Luke Wiggins aboard the Melissa Ann in the Thames River in October when he reeled in a hulking blackfish. The fish was promptly brought to the nearby A&W Marina in New London, where it measured 36 inches long and received an official weight of 25.78 pounds before being photographed and released back into the Thames River. Ironically, Cole’s fish toppled the previous state record for tautog in the catch-and-release category, a 32.5 incher that weighed 23 pounds, 11.2 ounces, caught by Captain Wiggins in 2020.
Connecticut: 9.9-pound Smooth Pufferfish
While tautog fishing in mid-October outside New London, Al Zuppe reeled in a 26.25-inch, 9.9-pound smooth pufferfish. Not to be confused with the smaller, edible northern pufferfish, these southern, late-summer visitors are highly toxic and need to be handled with care.
Rhode Island: 19.56-pound False Albacore
On August 17, on the cusp of albie season in southern New England, Henry Simonds reeled in a whopping 19.56-pound, 36-inch false albacore while tuna fishing aboard Spear-It Charters with Captain David Hochman. What initially began as an overnight spearfishing trip for yellowfin tuna in the canyons quickly turned into a trolling trip, during which their crew boated 8 yellowfin in addition to this pending state-record albie.