In a remarkable feat of angling prowess, a resident of Somerset County, Maryland, has officially etched his name into the annals of fishing history. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has duly recognized Brian Summerlin, hailing from Princess Anne, for his exceptional catch of a sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), setting a new state fishing record in the Chesapeake Bay Division.
On the serene waters of Tangier Sound, just off Crisfield, Mr. Summerlin reeled in a behemoth sheepshead on September 17, 2023. This colossal fish, weighing an astounding 16.6 pounds, was ensnared from a depth of approximately 15 feet. Employing a well-thought-out strategy, Summerlin targeted sheepshead using soft crab as bait, ingeniously rigged on a sliding sinker “fishfinder rig” featuring an 8/0 circle hook. His choice of equipment included a spinning rod paired with 60-pound braid and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader. Before encountering this record-breaking catch, Summerlin had already showcased his angling skills by landing an assortment of black drum, striped bass, bluefish, and various other species.
Brian Summerlin recalled the exhilarating moment: “I initially believed it to be a black drum, given its vigorous resistance and substantial head shakes. However, as the fish surfaced near the boat, I discerned that it was, in fact, an exceptionally large sheepshead.” Following this remarkable capture, he promptly transported the fish to Sea Hawk Sports Center in Pocomoke City for preliminary weight assessment and photographs. A quick check of the state’s current records online confirmed that Summerlin’s catch was nothing short of a “contender.”
The sheepshead’s impressive weight was subsequently confirmed on a certified scale at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge. In terms of length, the fish measured an imposing 26.25 inches. Brian Summerlin’s remarkable catch shattered the previous sheepshead record of 14.1 pounds, which had been held by Daniel Mastronardi Jr. since August 2020.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources diligently maintains state records for sport fish across four divisions: Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive. Anglers who achieve record-breaking catches are honored with well-deserved plaques to commemorate their extraordinary achievements.