Brian Gay of Millsboro, Del. has been recognized by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a state fishing record in the Atlantic Ocean Division after reeling in a rare white hake off the coast of Ocean City.
Gay, an experienced angler, was fishing for sea bass in roughly 280 feet of water 50 miles off the coast in Poor Man’s Canyon when he felt the bite. After several minutes, Gay’s “monster” fish finally came to the surface. He caught the 16.71-pound fish using a “top-and-bottom” two-hook rig with a 16-ounce sinker, and clam bait.
“I had no idea what it was,” Gay said, noting that he and his companions thought what they had was a world record red hake, which is similar in appearance.
To correctly identify the species, a department biologist carefully counted scales and examined the fish’s eye and jaw structure. Once officially identified as a white hake — Urophycis tenuis — the department chose to add the species to its official record book.
“The species is recognized by several northern states as well as the International Game Fish Association so it should distinguished as a state record in Maryland, ” Recreational Fishing Outreach Coordinator Erik Zlokovitz said.
Martin’s Fish House in Ocean City officially certified the weight.
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. Fish caught from privately-owned, fee-fishing waters are ineligible for consideration.
Anglers who think they have a potential record catch should download and fill out a state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325. The department suggests fish be immersed in ice water to preserve weight until it can be checked, confirmed and certified.