A new state fishing record for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) in the Chesapeake Bay Division has been officially recognized by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The record was achieved by Brian Summerlin, a resident of Somerset County, who caught the 16.6-pound fish on September 17 in Tangier Sound off Crisfield in about 15 feet of water.
Summerlin caught the sheepshead using a soft crab rigged on a sliding sinker “fishfinder rig” with an 8/0 circle hook and a spinning rod with a 60-pound braid and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader. He had been catching a mix of black drum, striped bass, bluefish, and other species before encountering the record-breaking sheepshead.
After checking the state’s current records online, Summerlin knew his catch was a “contender” and took the fish to Sea Hawk Sports Center in Pocomoke City for a preliminary weight check and photographs. The fish’s weight was then confirmed on a certified scale at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge, and it was measured at 26.25 inches in total length.
Summerlin’s catch broke the previous record of 14.1 pounds set by Daniel Mastronardi Jr. in August 2020. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources maintains state records for sport fish in four divisions – Atlantic, Chesapeake, Nontidal, and Invasive – and awards plaques to anglers who achieve record catches.
Anglers who believe they have a potential record catch should download and fill out the state record application and call 443-569-1398 or email Erik.Zlokovitz@maryland.gov. The department recommends the fish be immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.