A young angler from Connecticut, Aiden Cole, has made history with an incredible catch that’s sending ripples of excitement through the local fishing community. Aiden reeled in a colossal 36-inch, 28.75-pound tautog, affectionately dubbed “Taugzilla” among anglers.
The remarkable feat was achieved under the guidance of Captain Luke Wiggins aboard the Melissa Ann while they were fishing in the Thames River. Their awe-inspiring catch has ignited a buzz within the marine community and beyond.
The duo’s excitement was palpable as they reached out to the Connecticut Fish and Wildlife following the jaw-dropping catch. “I got that call, and I couldn’t even understand what he was saying; they were so excited,” shared David Molnar, a marine fisheries biologist.
The tautog was quickly weighed by Karen Westerberg at A&W Marina/Tackleshop and then promptly released, showcasing a commitment to conservation.
Landing a fish exceeding 10 pounds is a significant accomplishment, and one surpassing 20 pounds is a monumental achievement. Molnar emphasized the grandeur of this catch, remarking, “These fish are gigantic. When you get 15, 20-pound fish, that’s very large. They live very long…so I suspect this fish is 20, 25 years old.”
Remarkably, Captain Wiggins held the previous tautog record with a fish measuring 32.5 inches and weighing nearly 24 pounds. Interestingly, there is speculation that this new record catch might be the same fish captured three years earlier in the exact same location, given its similar markings. This intriguing coincidence underscores the importance of catch and release for species management and ecosystem health.
Tautog, yearlong residents of the Long Island Sound area, undergo a semi-hibernation phase during cold months, venturing into shallow waters for feeding before their resting period. This behavior allows tautog fishing in Connecticut to remain open until November 28.
Anglers affectionately refer to tautog exceeding 15 pounds as “taugzilla” due to their formidable fighting abilities. These fish are often dubbed “reef bullies” for their remarkable strength relative to their size.
Now, fellow anglers in Connecticut are undoubtedly inspired, hoping to achieve their own “Taugzilla” moments and earn well-deserved bragging rights. Captain Wiggins and Aiden Cole have secured their place in the annals of fishing history with this astonishing catch.