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Record Tautog Caught Off Ocean City
Large fish drawn to artificial reef habitat
ANNAPOLIS— A new Maryland record tautog (TAW-tog) recently caught off of Ocean City may be the first of many to come, thanks to cooperative management between the fishing community and Maryland DNR. The development of a high quality tautog fishery off the coast of Maryland is an emerging fisheries management success story, thanks in part to the development of a network of artificial reefs. Marine habitat enhancement coupled with sound fishery management is now beginning to yield some of the best quality tautog fishing on the Atlantic Coast.
Sam Beauchamp of Brooklyn, NY, was fishing aboard Captain Monty Hawkins's charter boat Morning Star on March 11 when he landed the new record fish, which weighed in at an impressive 20 pounds, 11 ounces and measured 31.75 inches in length. The tog easily eclipsed the previous 27-year record of 19 pounds, 8 ounces held by Noah King. The world record is 25 pounds.
Underwater video shot by Captain Hawkins along with DNR staff has documented additional large tautog around artificial reefs in Maryland’s coastal waters.
“Artificial reefs established by the State of Maryland and maintained by the non-profit Ocean City Reef Foundation also provide habitat for other species including black sea bass, summer flounder, croaker, spot, weakfish, bluefish and even American lobster,” said DNR Fisheries Ecologist Martin L. Gary. “These species are drawn to reefs for shelter and food; structures such as concrete and old vessels are quickly colonized by invertebrate, encrusting growth such as blue mussels, anemones, barnacles and myriad other marine organisms.”
Because tautog and other species exhibit strong habitat fidelity — rarely straying far from where they take up residence and often calling artificial reefs home — cooperative management between DNR and stakeholders is essential to providing sustainable, high quality fishing on these reef sites, which are also frequented by scuba enthusiasts.
March 26, 2007
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov