A Virginia man turned his luck around last Sunday when he landed a new Virginia record tautog after a rough day of fishing.
According to The Virginian Pilot, Ken Neill landed a 24-pound, 3-ounce tautog off the Virginia coast last Sunday, breaking the previous record, a 24-pounder caught by Greg Bell in 1987.
“A lot of people are telling me I deserve this because of how hard I fish,” Neill told The Pilot. “I don’t really get that. I don’t deserve it. I just feel lucky.”
For Neill, it was beginning to look like one of those days. His crew didn’t show up for the 6 a.m. departure — though they showed up minutes later, he said — and he was having little luck in the shipwrecks scattered off the Virginia coast. Plenty of sea bass, but they’re out of season.
Finally, Neill got his wish, getting a tautog to bite on his hook, baited with bits of crab, and after putting up a good fight, he was finally able to land a tog that made his jaw drop.
The fish weighed in at 24 pounds on Neill’s BogaGrip, but it was later weighed on a certified scale at Inlet Station Marina, where it weighed in at 24.5 pounds. The tog was weighed one more time at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission offices in Newport News, Va., with Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament director Lewis Gillingham present, where it finally measured 24 pounds, 3 ounces.
Neill said he plans to have reproduction mount made, and will turn the fish over to the VMRC for research.
According to the International Game Fish Association, the world record tautog was a 25-pounder caught by Anthony Monica on Jan. 20, 1998, in Ocean City, N.J.