9-year-old breaks Md. fishing record

WASHINGTON — A new Maryland fishing record was set last month by an unlikely master angler: a 9-year-old girl.

cobia fishing record
The cobia measured 66.5 inches long. The fish dwarfed its captor — 52-inch-tall Emma. (Courtesy Maryland Department of Natural Resources)

Emma Zajdel, a 9-year-old from Ocean City, caught a 94.6-pound cobia near Little Gull Shoals about a mile and a half east of Assateague Island on June 30, Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirmed Monday. The record shattered the 79-pound state record set in 2014.

Emma and her father, Ed, were fishing with friends hoping to catch some bluefish in the area that day when a line went tight. Emma set the rod in place and braced for the catch, said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service spokesman Joe Evans.

“At first, we thought it was a shark, and the line was going out,” she said, according to a Department of Natural Resources news release. “I could hear the reel and the drag and I thought I could go over the side.”

After a 20-minute battle, the 9-year-old got the fish on the boat where it went “ballistic,” Ed told the Department of Natural Resources. He said he and a friend “wrestled the fish into the fish box.”

They kept the fish iced overnight and took it to the certified scale at Sunset Marina, where the cobia measured 66.5 inches long. The fish dwarfed its captor — 52-inch-tall Emma.

The average weight of a cobia is around 25 pounds, Evans said.

Emma’s catch could become a new world record for a fish caught by an angler under the age of 10. The current record for the age group is 48 pounds. The International Game Fish Association could take up to a year to certify Emma’s catch and determine if it is a world record.

Emma could still have a way to go to take down the cobia records in Virginia and worldwide. Virginia’s record is a 109-pound fish caught in 2006 and the world record is a 135.9-pound cobia caught in 1985.

There are no restrictions on catching and keeping cobia in Maryland, however, there are restrictions in federal waters.

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