When a young Dorchester County man hooked a fish on Tilghman Island over Labor Day weekend, he couldn’t figure out what he’d caught. When he consulted the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it turned out to be a record-breaking Florida pompano.
26-year-old David Schrock was fishing from the shore with multiple rods in the Black Walnut Point area, using “a piece of peeler crab on a traditional Chesapeake two-hook top-bottom rig.”
When one rod took off, a friend guessed it might be a large bluefish on the line. After 10 minutes of fighting the fish, he pulled in the mystery catch and couldn’t identify what he’d caught.
“We had no idea what it was at first,” Schrock says. When Schrock reached out to DNR, Recreational Outreach Coordinator Erik Zlokovitz verified the species as a Florida pompano.
The species was just recognized in Maryland records one year ago, when 14-year-old Scott Hartzell Jr. caught a 3.375-pound pompano—also close to Tilghman Island.
Shrock’s fish was certified at 5.05 pounds by Wittman Wharf Seafood, making it a new record. It had a fork length ( from tip of the snout or jaw to the end of the middle caudal fin rays, or “fork”) of 18.5 inches.
Schrock, upon hearing the news that he had a confirmed state record fish, remarked, “Wow … I think I need to play the lottery!”
Are you feeling lucky, too? Anyone who thinks they may have a state record catch should fill out a state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325, DNR says. The department suggests fish be immersed in ice water to preserve weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.
-Meg Walburn Viviano