Md.’s 1st State Record Pomfret May Beat World Record

Maryland has its first state fishing record of the New Year and the new decade—a 22.10-pound big-scale pomfret—thanks to Jeff Rosenkilde of Monkton, Maryland. Yesterday, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources officially recognized Rosenkilde’s catch, which also is a first for that species in the state’s record book.

Fishing aboard Brendan Barbey’s 30-foot Grady-White, Rosenkilde and friends Tony and Mike Freiji, and Jeremy Scott were deep-dropping for swordfish between the Washington and Norfolk canyons off the Atlantic coast when the now record pomfret inhaled a 12-inch squid dropped to 1,000 feet. The crew also landed an 80-pound swordfish on the trip. 

“I’ve been fishing offshore for 15 years and we’ve pulled up grouper, tilefish, swordfish and weird species [from the depths], but never something like this,” the 33-year-old angler told Bay Bulletin’s Chris Dollar.

“Initially when we saw color [meaning the fish was close enough to the ocean’s surface to distinguish its outline and colors] it looked like a small tuna because it was kind of purple iridescent. But Tony and Mike Freiji knew what it was.”

A lifelong angler who used to drift eels for rockfish in the upper Chesapeake with his grandfather, Rosenkilde credits his fishing friends with helping him establish the new record. After the paperwork was completed, they took it to a friend’s restaurant, and Rosenkilde reports it made for an excellent meal.

Weeks prior to Rosenkilde’s record catch, another pomfret was reportedly brought back to the Ocean City docks. That one is believed to be an Atlantic pomfret.

The big-scale pomfret differs slightly from its cousin the Atlantic pomfret, also called a Ray’s bream after naturalist John Ray. Biologists can tell the two fish apart by size, shape and location of dorsal fins and scales. Both species can reach lengths up to nearly 40 inches. Worldwide, there are approximately 35 species of these marine fishes making up the family Bramidae (order Perciformes), spread over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

The big-scale pomfret is commonly found in the warm waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, but occasionally does move northward, since most pomfrets are highly migratory. Still, it is a relatively rare catch for mid-Atlantic waters, especially considering its size.

A DNR biologist verified the species and its weight was certified by Hunter’s Crab and Seafood Market in Grasonville, Maryland. If Rosenkilde’s catch meets the stringent International Game Fish Association standards, it would be the all-tackle world record, besting the current mark of 20.60 pounds. That pomfret was caught on Oct. 17, 2004 off St. Augustine, Florida.

-Capt. Chris D. Dollar