Fred Brungart of York, Pa., caught a Maryland record 38-inch, 24-pound Atlantic cod on May 31 out of Ocean City, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service reported last week.
Brungart hooked the fish aboard the 80-foot headboat Ocean Princess captained by Victor Bunting.
After recognizing that the Maryland state-record fish list did not include cod, Captain Bunting encouraged Brungart to have his catch weighed on the Ocean City Fishing Center's scale. Fisheries Service biologist Steve Doctor certified the fish and launched the state process to determine whether Atlantic cod would qualify as a state-record species.
Keith Lockwood of DNR Fisheries State Fishing Record Program said the Atlantic cod is a coldwater 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 6- to 8-pound range occasionally being caught in Maryland waters," Lockwood said. "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 a sign of hope for more, and bigger, fish to come."
Delaware's record cod is a 44-pounder caught in 1975; New Jersey lists an 81-pound record fish caught in 1967; and Massachusetts features the cod as its state symbol, with a 92 pound record fish caught in 1987.
The Atlantic cod 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.
Seeking Diamond Jim
The Diamond Jim component of the 2013 Maryland Fishing Challenge entered its second phase recently when Maryland DNR biologists and teams of young anglers caught, tagged and released around 200 striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay.
One of the tagged fish is the official Diamond Jim worth $20,000 to the angler who catches him between July 1 and midnight July 31. The other tagged "imposter" rockfish are worth at least $500 each if caught and registered before midnight on Sept. 2, 2013.
Each month Diamond Jim goes uncaught the bounty increases — from $10,000 in June, to $20,000 in July and $25,000 in August. The contest features a guaranteed $25,000 payout, so if Diamond Jim is not caught by midnight Labor Day, the cash prize will be split equally among those who catch imposters.