OCEAN CITY- Maryland Natural Resources (DNR) officials this week confirmed a 24-pound Atlantic cod caught from an Ocean City headboat in late May might be the state record after creating a new category for the species.
On May 31, angler Fred Brungart of York, Pa. caught a 38-inch, 24-pound Atlantic cod while fishing aboard the headboat “Ocean Princess” with Captain Victor Bunting. After realizing the Maryland state record fish list did not include Atlantic cod, Bunting encouraged Brungart to have his fish weighed officially at the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City.
DNR Fisheries biologist Steve Doctor certified the fish and launched a state process to determine if Atlantic cod would qualify as a state record species. Keith Lockwood of the DNR Fisheries’ State Fishing Record Program then determined the Atlantic cod is a cold water fish that can be abundant in the mid-Atlantic region with recreational catches up to 50 pounds.
“Since the collapse of the cod population in the 1960s, forceful Atlantic coast fisheries management action has produced a slow recovery with small fish in the six- to eight-pound range occasionally being caught in Maryland waters,” said Lockwood. “While this 24-pound fish is not particularly large in the history of cod, it is a significant catch at this time and worth recognizing as a state record and sign of hope for more and bigger fish to come.”
Brungart’s catch may join the list of Maryland Angler Award qualifying fish for the 2014 Maryland Fishing Challenge pending input from the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission and final DNR approval. Meanwhile, the Delaware record for Atlantic cod is a 44-pounder caught in 1975, while the New Jersey record is an 81-pounder caught in 1967. Massachusetts, which features the Atlantic cod as its state symbol, boasts a 92-pounder caught in 1987 as its state record.