The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that on Oct. 29, Gary Halbeisen of Bel Air caught a 9-pound, 25-inch tautog in the waters off Point Lookout, a new state record for the fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Tautog are most commonly encountered in the water of the Atlantic Ocean.
Halbeisen was chumming for striped bass along the eastern edge of the shipping channel near the American Mariner Target ship. He was fishing aboard the charter boat Jill Carrie out of Deale captained by Jim Brincefield. Gary reported the action for striped bass was excellent, with most fish in the 18- to 24-inch class.
What happened next surprised everyone on the boat. While chumming in 24 feet of water on the flood tide, a large fish took Halbeisen's razor clam bait. At first he thought he might have one of the early run, large migrant stripers that had been reported in the area. However, when the fish sounded and "bulled" its way down to the bottom, he knew it had to be something else. That something turned out to be a record-setting tautog later certified by a DNR Fisheries Service biologist.
While tautog can be found in Maryland's waters of Chesapeake Bay from late autumn through early spring, most are smaller, in the 2- to 3-pound class. Halbeisen's fish is considered unusually large, and will be recognized as the benchmark Chesapeake citation for this species.