Photos: 28-Pound World Record Tautog Caught in Maryland

Kenneth Westerfeld reeled in a 28-pound world record tautog while fishing on a wreck out of Ocean City, Maryland.

Kenneth Westerfeld reeled in a 28-pound world record tautog while fishing on a wreck out of Ocean City, Maryland.

Talk about a good start to the New Year.

Kenneth Westerfeld was expecting a big tautog when he set up on a solid, single-tug lunker bite, back on Jan. 2, while wreck fishing out of Ocean City, Maryland. What he wasn’t expecting was a potential world record at the end of his line.

“We were into big blackfish right off the bat,” explained the College Point, Queens, angler, “and I knew immediately when I set the hook that this was a double-digit white chin. I got three quick turns on the reel and then all I could do was hold the rod high and tight while she dove for the wreck. More than halfway to the top, however, she got a second wind, bore down and tore about 40 feet of line from my drag which was nearly locked tight. I couldn’t believe the power. That’s when I knew this one was more than special.”

When the monstrous bulldog finally hit the deck, Westerfeld was stunned by its size and the other anglers in his fishing party immediately recognized its world record potential. Back at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, the huge white chin officially tipped the scales at 28 pounds, 8 ounces. If its IGFA application is approved, this massive tautog will bump the current record of 25 pounds caught out of Ocean City, New Jersey by Anthony Monica in 1998.

Anthony Monica's 25-pound tautog, caught out of Ocean City, New Jersey, was considered by many to be an unbreakable record.
Anthony Monica’s 25-pound tautog, caught out of Ocean City, New Jersey, has stood since 1998. (photo credit: Tom Schlichter)

“This one ate a white crab on a snafu rig in 85 feet of water,” said Westerfeld, “and it’s truly the fish of a lifetime. I caught it using a Shimano Torium 14 reel, Calstar custom 7-foot, 2-inch L blank rod and 50-pound Power Pro line.”

Westerfeld was fishing aboard Captain Kane Bound’s six-pack charter boat Fish Bound when the big fish struck. He makes a special trip to the area each year in early January because of the huge tautog that lurk there during the mid-winter winter months.

“My previous best tautog weighed 14 pounds,” continued Westerfeld, and was also caught aboard Fish Bound Charters. My best Long Island tautog weighed 13.25 pounds and came from 17 Fathoms. I wish I could say that more potential world record tautog lurk closer to home, but I’m convinced there’s an even bigger one in Maryland waters. The state just does a great job with its artificial reef program and enhancing fish habitat. You can really see their efforts paying off.”

Tautog World Record Blackfish

Although Westerfeld, 48, believes his world record tautog, which could be 50 years old or more, is one for the ages, he doesn’t think it’s the end-all of tog records. An experienced wreck diver working another tautog piece off Cape May, he noted, recently reported seeing a pair of monster ‘tog the smaller of which he estimated at over 30 pounds!

Blackfish, Ken Westerfeld, World Record-37617

“Fortunately,” chuckled the new blackfish king, I’ve got the Fish Bound booked for life on the first weekend in January. That should keep me in the ballgame and, hopefully, the next record will pick my hook, too.” (photos courtesy Ken Westerfeld)

Tautog World Record Blackfish group

46 on “Photos: 28-Pound World Record Tautog Caught in Maryland

  1. Richard Waldman

    50 year old fish! I would have released it and made a wish.

    1. Harry


  2. Chris

    Congrats captain and crew! That is an amazing fish you guys caught.

  3. TonyF

    The older I get the more I feel bad for the fish too. CatchPictureRelease. Congrats on an epic catch and record.

    1. Joseph Kallo

      Tony i feel the same way about my feelings for the fish as i get older but come on that fish is the biggest Blackfish in the world you cant release a fish like that. Tight lines Tony

      1. Elmo

        I agree once caught a record fish can’t release for someone else to catch and claim the same record

  4. Joseph Kallo

    Congrats Ken on that beast of a Tog. There are plenty of fish in the sea so that being said i would have never released a world record fish no way in hell. We only live once and you know what Ken you caught the biggest Blackfish in the world

  5. carol

    He should have released it. This article makes me sick. I wish I hadn’t read it.

  6. Matt

    Picture / catch release is easy to say. But we are talking about a very special catch here, Nevermind the 200 mile drive and the costs involved, his life long goal was reached and we should of all things be proud as anglers.
    This angler, which I had the pleasure of meeting last week and struck up a 30 minute convo with, has been fishing for a trophy tog for most of his adult life. Give the man a break if he wants to mount this incredible catch of a lifetime. Not everyone can work a near 30 lb fish like this gentlemen and he deserves the IGFA all tackle along with anything else positive that comes with it, in sure this fish broke off as many anglers as months alive.

    Queens NY

    1. john

      A reel lucky jersey jerk accomplished something in his life congratulations.
      John massachusetts

    2. Mark

      great catch and you have every right to mount it and be proud. Catching 5 pound togs on a consistent basis takes hard work and skill, I can just imagine all the time this angler put in. great job and congrats!

      1. Mary Jones

        To all you catch & release guys out there … I’m no angler but I have kept aquariums for many years and know this to be true. Once you handle a fish, you disturb its slime coating. This leaves it vulnerable to untold micro-organisms & diseases – so it does NOT go on to live a long & happy life. Handling a fish then releasing it back into the water can severely impact its health. Just saying – consider the bigger picture. Nature is a beautiful but harsh environment.

  7. Michael Thau

    I;m with you Matt.The man caught a fish of a lifetime.catch and release if you like .But a catch like that,a world record,no way would I have let it go.I can only wish for something like that to happen to me in my lifetime and I bet to many other fisherman out there also.And to the nay-sayers say catch and release I bet if it was on the end of your line after driving 200 miles in the dead of winter ,you’d keep it on the records to.I,m envious of the MAN

  8. Ted

    Just for the record the fish was found to be 23 years old by a fish biologist.

    1. Jeff foxx

      If this fish is 23 years old, and we would’ve tagged and released, possibly we could find out how old the fish get all the travel and much more information. There should be a reward to release fish like this! I believe this species live up to 110 years old

  9. “The Baited Breath”

    A trophy fish that certainly I would keep, brag about and show to the world!

  10. Mike bermudez

    I personally would have released it after weight and measurments! To get a wall mount only requires photos today! If he kept it hes a dick!!

  11. Ryan

    That’s a WORLD record. Id keep that fish 10 out of 10 times I don’t care what you say. Not to mention the trip the guy took…its a once in a lifetime fish. Congrats on the catch!

  12. Capt Rich C0lombo

    Once in a lifetime fish here. Kenny has released thousands of other tog in his life. A world record fish like this should be taken.

  13. chris

    please the guy caught the fish of a lifetime if he wants to keep it, keep it i love jealous people ” i would have let it go” easy to say in your living room ……

  14. Eddie

    You get a fish that big and you want to release it ??? You know there are bigger ones out there…did a great job landing it and It’s a fish to remember….

  15. Luis

    You deserve that fish. Thanks for supporting this beautiful hobby.

  16. wishing I could

    There is no way I would have released this fish. My wife would kill me#

  17. Mark

    Ken I know the hard work and dedication you put into this and sincere congratulations! And heck no you DO NOT release a bucket list world record , it becomes part of angling history with your name on it and part of your family forever more. One other thing in the spirit of competition I too believe there’s a 30 plus right now hanging a wreck somewhere between the Ocean Cites ( nj, md) and in the Spirit if Sportsmanship, I’m coming after your record my well respected friend! Tight lines

  18. Tim Odell

    Going fishing for tog this weekend. Hoping beginner’s luck holds for a fish even in double digits. Capt. Monty on the Morningstar out of OC, MD says it’s just a matter of time before the next record is caught. You throw back big females as breeders, but no way do you release a world record. Gimmee a break!

  19. Nick In NY

    Congrats! I’ve returned 54″ striped bass ONLY because the water was dirty and I wouldn’t eat the fish. Say you returned it only to find it floating 2 days later! Your dish your call! Opinions are like assholes everyones hot one! Tight lines Nick n NY

  20. Bill

    The guy who caught this fish was lucky. If he wasn’t in his spot on that boat it could’ve been another person on the boat. Ask any commercial fisherman and they will say the same.

  21. Bennett

    To each their own….
    Since catching 40lb striper I changed to photo/ release that size. With fisheries in decline, catch release more common . Wow that’s a huge Tog, congrats

  22. Wolf

    Cant believe the world has so many little jealous haters. If you ***love*** fish so much why would you ever put a hook in the water? As long as it’s legal, it is your fish and your call!

  23. Ruzz

    If it was a smaller fish I would surely release it but a world record you have to have it weighed

  24. Rich O’Connell

    I’ve fished with Ken for more than 20 years and can assure you all how passionate he is about releasing all fish 8 lbs and better, plus countless smaller female breeders. Initially we guessed it was 40-50 years old but science showed it was 23 which was surprising. As a group we’ve released hundreds of large fish and only kept a few for the table. I recently caught my pb of 15 lbs on the same boat and felt honored to have Capt Kane and Kevin tag it and watch that beauty swim back to the bottom. Hopefully in a couple of years someone else will catch and release her then forward the tag/data so we can understand more about these fish we all covet. We safely tagged and released about 10 other fish the same day from 8 to 13 lbs. Participating in learning about the growth and movement of these great fish is something we’re all proud of and enjoy doing. Be good sports and let the big ones go so there can be a tomorrow..

  25. Doug Brezinski

    A guy caught a 37 pounder off Sands Point on Long Island back in ’81 and released it, then caught one 44 inches long a year or two later and released it.

  26. Bill

    No way that’s a lot of meat I wouldn’t have cared about the record I would have just wanted those big fillets

  27. Zeketon

    Congratulations on a Great job,wish it could’ve been kept alive in a state aquarium, for all to enjoy it’s enormous size, swimming and being taken care of so it can live out it’s life and maybe breed it and learn from there habits, watch how they take care of there brood!?

  28. Bill

    All u shldve released people are full of records only come along so often..mount that baby show everyone u know and even some u dont know..congrats on an absolute hog of a tog

  29. Bill h

    All u shldve released people are full of records only come along so often..mount that baby show everyone u know and even some u dont know..congrats on an absolute hog of a tog

  30. Bernie Simmons

    I know of a guy from Port Washington on Long Island who caught a 37 pound black and released it. I’ve see the picture his buddy took of him and the fish. He released it after the fish was weighed and the picture was taken, and thought the fish deserved to live. The guy wasn’t interested in any publicity or anything.

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