Although 2015 isn’t even a month old, two record-breaking fish have already been caught this year. Kenneth Westerfeld, a 48-year-old College Point, NY man, nabbed a 28.8-pound tautog, which has already been certified as the largest one caught in Maryland and could be world-record-breaking. That same day, Lee Haile III of Towson, Maryland caught an eight-pound chain pickerel, which was heavy enough to break Maryland’s state record for the species.
Westerfeld caught his potentially world-record-breaking tautog near Ocean City with four of his friends. He’s waiting for the International Game Fish Association to verify that his is the new world-record winner, beating the previous record of 25-pounds by 3.8 pounds.
“It’s something to be very proud of,” said Westerfeld. “It’s sort of a culmination of over 20 years of fishing experience in my life.”
As for Haile — the other new state record holder — he had to fight to catch his trophy fish, which made a couple of strong 30-yard dashes, circled his boat twice, dodged his net, and dove under the boat before finally being wrangled aboard. His pickerel has beaten Maryland’s record-holding fish by one 14 ounces, but falls one pound short of beating the world record.
“I’ve been fishing for pickerel for over 38 years and I just knew this one was exceptional,” said Haile.
Even more mind-boggling are some of the other world records out there. In 1982, Albert McReynolds spent an hour and 40 minutes catching 78-pound striped bass in New Jersey. In 1985, a 97-pound king salmon was caught in Alaska’s Kenai River. The craziest record, though, easily belongs to Joey Pallotta III. In 1983, he spent five hours catching a white sturgeon that weighed 420-pounds.
Though these two state-record-breaking fish are certainly in another weight class compared to these other fish, they’re still impressive catches.
“My dream was to catch a 20-pounder,” said Westerfeld, “to gaze at and adore while I sit in my den and watch my TV in my reclined position. I’ve dreamt about that for quite a while.”