Fay Ganster with her record smooth dogfish. Photo: Capt. John Forman

Woman Breaks Md. Fishing Record for Shark Species

A fishing trip that was almost canceled became a memorable one, when a Pennsylvania woman managed to catch a state record-breaking shark before the trip was done.

Fay Ganster landed an 18-pound smooth dogfish off the coast of Ocean City Oct. 22. The smooth dogfish, sometimes called a dusky smooth-hound, is one of the most common shark species along the Atlantic coast. It can grow up to five feet long.

Ganster booked her October shark fishing charter trip with her husband months in advance. Ganster lives in Reading, Penn., but frequently vacations in Ocean City. When the time came for the trip, it was canceled because of bad weather. But at the last minute, the charter captain, John Forman of Bottom Bouncer, called to give the couple the green light.

Ganster and her husband fished near the Ise of Wight shoal for four or five hours, pulling in a few bluefish and sea bass. Then, using a chunk of cut bluefish as bait, she cast again.

This time, the angler hooked her record catch. The dogfish took her about 20 minutes to reel in a

After four to five hours fishing near the Isle of Wight shoal, Ganster pulled in a few bluefish and sea bass. Using a chunk of cut bluefish as bait, she cast again, hooking her record catch. It took about 20 minutes to reel it in and “was a little bit of a battle,” she recalls. 

“I haven’t been shark fishing in about 12 years,” Ganster says, adding, “This is really cool…this is a big deal.” 

The fish’s weight was officially certified at Sunset Marina in Ocean City. A Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist confirmed the catch. 

The smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis) is a member of the shark family and generally swims in packs or schools. The smooth dogfish can be caught year-round and there are no daily creel limits for anglers or vessels.

If you think you may have a record catch, DNR says you should fill out the state record application and call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325. The department recommends the fish be immersed in ice water to preserve its weight until it can be checked, confirmed, and certified.

-Meg Walburn Viviano