The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has officially recognized 14-year-old Scott Hartzell Jr. of Easton as the first official state record holder for a Florida pompano. Hartzell caught the 3.375-pound fish on Stone Rock near Tilghman Island.
Hartzell was trolling for bait fish with family and friends when he caught the fish on a gold Clarkspoon — at the end of few tangled fishing lines.
“We weren’t sure what it was,” said Scott Hartzell Sr., the angler’s father. “We’ve caught crazy fish before but never this.”
The Hartzells took a few pictures of the fish, sent them to some friends for identification and were notified of their rare catch.
A department biologist verified the species as a Florida pompano – Trachinotus carolinus. Its weight was certified at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory.
The fish is commonly found in the warm waters off the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico but occasionally moves northward.
“We’ve had a few reports of Florida pompano being caught in the bay recently and expect to see more,” Recreational Fishing Outreach Coordinator Erik Zlokovitz said. “We think it’s time for the state to recognize this species as a record catch.”
Hartzell’s Florida pompano record is in the Chesapeake Division.
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.