Maryland Hauls in Record Fish on the Eastern Shore

Written by Dina Sostarec
Updated: October 13, 2023
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Brian Summerlin, an angler from Princess Anne, caught a record fish — a 16.6-pound Sheepshead — on September 17 while fishing in Tangier Sound. This massive catch instantly made Summerlin the new holder of the Maryland state record in the Chesapeake Bay Division for Sheepshead. Here’s the full story.

New Record Fish — Summerlin’s Massive Catch

Young man fishing on a lake from the boat at sunset

September 17 was an average day in Crisfield, Maryland. The weather was not too hot, and not too cold — just average. However, that Sunday would eventually turn into a


day for Summerlin.

©Dudarev Mikhail/

Last Sunday, September 17, Summerlin went fishing for sheepshead in Tangier Sound off Crisfield. Officials say he decided to use a soft crab rigged on a sliding sinker “fishfinder rig” with an 8/0 circle hook, a spinning rod with a 60-pound braid, and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader to target sheepshead.

Despite his best efforts, Summerlin had only been catching a mix of striped bass, black drum, bluefish, and other species — until he eventually came across a massive sheepshead. The fish would end up breaking the last Maryland state record in the Chesapeake Bay Division for this species.

The fish’s weight would later be verified on a certified scale at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge. It was weighed at 16.6 pounds and measured at 26.25 inches in total length.

This officially confirmed that Summerlin broke the previous state record of 14.1 pounds, which was set and held for over three years by Daniel Mastronardi Jr.  

How Big Is the Average Sheepshead?

The average sheepshead fish will weigh between five and 15 pounds and be about 30 inches long. They can, however, reach up to 21 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches in length. This would place the last state record of 14.1 pounds in the average range, and Summerlin’s catch of 16.6 pounds well above it.

How Can You Recognize Sheepshead Fish?

sheepshead fish

Sheepshead fish may look scary, but they are not aggressive or dangerous to humans.


Sheepshead fish are also known as Convict Fish, thanks to their unique bodily markings that resemble a black-and-white prison uniform. They have mainly silver or gray bodies covered with several vertical dark bars — usually five to seven of them.

The species is also known for its strange, human-like teeth. Their front teeth look like incisors, while their rear teeth resemble molars. They use them to crush shells and eat the meat of hard-shelled animals.

Finally, sheepshead fish have an elevated back and a single dorsal fin. 

Many people often confuse sheepshead with black drum and spadefish. In fact, Summerlin himself first thought that he had caught a black drum. According to his own statement, he only realized what he was dealing with when the fish surfaced near the boat.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Elonsy/

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About the Author

Dina Sostarec is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on symbolism, mammals, and various plants. Dina holds a Master's Degree in Philosophy and English language, and has been working as a full-time, professional writer since 2021. A resident of Croatia, Dina enjoys long walks in nature, yoga, and caring for her dog Chiquitita.

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