Every year, a few unusual species find their way onto the lines of Northeast anglers. Here are a few of the strangest catches of 2023.
Connecticut’s State-Record Barracuda
You never know what you’ll hook when trolling for tuna 25 miles south of Montauk. In late August, Jon Rogers, Paul Lavezzoli, and Jim Sullivan out of Niantic, Connecticut, reeled in what they thought was a wahoo until the jagged set of teeth revealed they had just caught a 19-pound great barracuda. They weighed the 48-inch fish at J&B Tackle Co. in East Lyme, Connecticut, and it was later deemed a state record on Connecticut’s list of exotic marine species.
Florida Pompano (in Maryland and New Jersey)
Since the state of Maryland began recognizing them as a viable target species in 2019, pompano— a sought-after species in Florida and the Carolinas—have grown increasingly common off the coastal beaches and in Chesapeake Bay. However, when Bobby Graves of Salisbury, Maryland, set out a soft crab bait hoping to catch some speckled trout, he ended up with a 6.44-pound, 22-inch pompano. His substantial catch earned him the 3rd official state-record title for pompano in Maryland.
A bit further north, there was also a pompano caught in Ocean County, New Jersey, that was weighed in at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle.
Cape Cod’s Tarpon
While shark fishing at night from a south-facing beach on Cape Cod, Hans Brings of Mashpee, Massachusetts, caught a 5-foot tarpon that inhaled a chunk of bluefish and took him for several drag-ripping runs. Brings, who had released a large sand tiger shark an hour earlier, battled what he thought was another shark for 25 minutes when he saw the gleam from the scales of a silver king in the crashing waves. After his friend snapped a couple of quick pictures to document the fish’s size, Brings revived it in the wash and it kicked off into the night, solidifying this XL silver king as one of the strangest catches of 2023.