Ocean City’s fishing charters are known for catching big, photo-worthy fish off the coast. But this past week brought even more impressive fishing action than usual, with two Maryland state records broken.
Jeff Jacobs, 38, of Calvert County caught a 393-pound swordfish for a new state record during a charter, while Thomas “Tad” Bodmer of Poolesville caught a state record-breaking albacore tuna at 78 pounds, just a pound off the world record.
A state record swordfish is a feather in any angler’s cap, but Jacobs’ swordfish did not come easily. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that he had already been on the water for eight hours aboard the charter boat RoShamBo with Captain Willie Zimmerman and crew when they hooked the swordfish in the canyons off Ocean City. The boat’s Shimano Tyrnos 50 two-speed reel was baited with eel and a blue-white skirt, DNR says.
The anglers noticed something tugging on the line and “before long, the fish jumped out of the water and looked like a Volkswagen,” Jacobs recounts.
He spent the next 5.5 hours fighting to get his huge fish aboard the boat. “Giving up wasn’t an option,” Jacobs said. “When (we) saw it we all knew it was a state record.”
After being officially certified at Ocean City Fishing Center, the catch was confirmed by a DNR biologist. It shattered the previous record from 2021, weighing in 90 pounds heavier.
Also in Ocean City, the charter boat Top Dog was at the end of a slow day of fishing when three different lines went out at the same time. They were trolling a “naked ballyhoo bait” at the time. Tad Bodmer scrambled to pick up one of the rods.
“It was chaos,” Bodmer told DNR. “I would get my fish close and then it would run back out. It took 25 minutes to get it.”
But unlike Jacobs’ swordfish, Top Dog Captain Ryan Knapp, Bodmer and the crew didn’t know the albacore was a record breaker until it was officially weighed.
Bodmer only recently picked up saltwater fishing when he caught the 77-pound albacore, also known as a longfin tuna. The weight was certified by Sunset Marina in Ocean City and confirmed by DNR. It breaks an 18-year-old state record.
Capt. Knapp says in all his years on the water, his crews have caught far fewer longfin tuna than yellowfin. When they do see longfin on the line, it’s usually in August and September. Anglers often also refer to albacore as “penguins” because of their long dorsal fin resembling a flipper. This species of tuna is the one we see most frequently in a can at the grocery store.
Anglers who think they have a potential record catch should download and fill out the state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325. The department recommends the fish be immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.
-Meg Walburn Viviano