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A Connecticut angler topples the existing state record blackfish by nearly 3 pounds while fishing aboard a local party boat.
By Toby Lapinski
Tags: inshore

There are a handful of perks that I really, I mean REALLY enjoy as being a part of The Fisherman family. Sure getting to do something fishing related for a living for a fish-a-holic like myself is great, but there are plenty of jobs out there which can afford such benefits. One thing which I can not be grateful enough for is the opportunity to witness some outstanding catches by local anglers, and one such example occurred on the afternoon of October 14, 2015.

I had just returned from shooting my Weekly Video Fishing Forecast when I received a call from an unlisted phone number. I was right in the middle of editing my video so I let it go to voicemail to attend to in a few minutes. Before the “new message” alert had a chance to pop up on my phone, I received a follow-up call from my advertising sales manager, Dale Nicholson. He said he had just heard from Capt. Bob of the Sunbeam Fleet in Waterford, CT, and they had a potential record blackfish onboard that one of their patrons had caught. I rushed down to the dock to meet the angler and crew at and to get a glimpse at this alleged monster tog.

As is always the case when you’re in a rush, my gas tank was on “E”, I hit every red light and followed no less than five leaf-peepers along my route. Fortunately for me the crew had a little trouble freeing the anchor from the gnarly reef and I beat the boat to the dock by several minutes. As the captain eased the 60-foot Sunbeam V into its slip, I was greeted by a slew of fishermen who all said the same thing, “You are NEVER going to believe the size of this fish!” Well, that was an understatement.

I hopped onboard, weeded my way through coolers and fishing gear and was directed to the rear fish hold. I lifted up the top of the large cooler and gazed in at what looked like a whiskey barrel on ice. I let out a few expletives of which I can not repeat at this time and jumped back. The small crowd which was forming around the cooler began laughing as they all did pretty much the same thing when they first saw the fish. We took her out of the cooler, laid her on the deck and set a 16-inch fish next to the massive 33-inch specimen for scale. I took a few pictures, congratulated angler Thien Nguyen on his awesome catch, and we set off to get an official weight.

The first stop was at Hillyer's Tackle where the scale read an absolutely astonishing 26.8 pounds. As the existing Connecticut state record fish which was landed in 2011 by Kendall Owens weighed 23 pounds, 9 ounces, we quickly shuttled the fish over to J&B Tackle to get an official weight to be entered for the new state record. On the scale at J&B the fish registered 26.6 pounds (she had lost some “excrement” in the photo shoot after the Hillyer’s weight was made) and was to be officially entered for consideration as the new state record. David Simpson of the Connecticut DEEP was on hand for the weigh-in and we discussed the possibility of getting an age on the fish from the opercular bones. This is what was used to determine that Ken Westerfeld’s world record, 28.8-pound tog was a mere 22 years old. This was far younger than the vast majority of estimates on that fish’s age, and posed just about as many questions regarding the growth rates of blackfish as it answered. (You can read the full report on world record fish’s weight in the May 2015 issue of The Fisherman.)

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