The Fish and Wildlife Division of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed the state’s first-ever record barracuda on Tuesday. It was added to CDEEP’s Exotic Marine category alongside several other fish species that aren’t typically associated with North Atlantic waters. But the barracuda was technically caught off the coast of New York, which had some East Coast anglers scratching their heads over Connecticut’s rules surrounding saltwater fishing records.
In a Facebook post, the CDEEP named Jonathan Rogers as the new state record holder. Rogers’ 48-inch barracuda weighed roughly 19 pounds, according to the agency, and he weighed the fish on a certified scale at a tackle shop in Niantic, Connecticut. Few additional details about the catch were included in the social media post, but one significant detail stuck out: Rogers caught the fish south of Montauk in New York waters.
Explaining why the barracuda was still certified as a new Connecticut record, the agency included this caveat in its post: Saltwater records and trophy fish may be caught outside of Connecticut but only qualify if the vessel’s home port is in Connecticut.
The explanation triggered quite a few comments from Facebook users. Some wondered (with varying degrees of sarcasm) if this would allow them to certify “exotic” records caught in faraway locations so long as their boat was docked in a Connecticut marina.
“So, I can go to Florida, catch a marlin and boat it back to [Connecticut] to be considered for a [Connecticut] state record rather than a [Florida] state record?” one person commented. Another user asked a similar question, but instead of using Florida marlin as a hypothetical example, they asked about giant tuna caught off North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“Yes,” the agency responded, “if your vessel’s home port is in Connecticut and you catch a big tuna off of the canyon, please submit for consideration … Best of luck.”
The CDEEP added that its marine records program is unique because saltwater fish can swim freely across arbitrary boundaries. Connecticut’s marine boundaries are also much more limited than other states along the East Coast. Sandwiched between New York and Rhode Island, Connecticut’s marine zone stretches between the Byram and Pawcatuck Rivers but ends halfway across the Long Island Sound. Everything south of that boundary—including where Rogers caught his record barracuda—is considered New York waters.
Most northeastern states (including New York) don’t even consider barracudas to be eligible for record consideration. The fast-swimming predatory species is more associated with warmer waters further south, and the closest state to Connecticut with a barracuda record on its books is North Carolina. The IGFA all-tackle world record for the species weighed nearly 90 pounds. That barracuda was caught off Christmas Island, which lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean south of Hawaii.