Todd Elder has spent much of his life diving. For the past 15 or so years, the Virginia Beach resident has worked in offshore oil and gas as a commercial diver. But recently, he decided to turn his passions for diving and fishing into his own side hustle.
Elder now owns a fresh seafood company, Virginia Beach Seafood, and has spent the past several years on the Chesapeake Bay whenever he can, spearfishing and selling his catches. Recently, Elder headed out on a “routine trip” toward the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on his jet ski, he told McClatchy News. He was in search of tautog, but instead came across Atlantic sheepshead. “That was a surprise,” Elder said.
After spotting the fish, Elder said he dropped from his jet ski and took aim at one of the bigger fish with his speargun. “I just got lucky,” Elder said. “There was an abnormally large sheepshead, and I got a chance to pull the trigger and land him.”
As soon as he speared the fish, Elder knew he had something special.
“I knew it was one of the biggest fish I’m ever potentially going to shoot and once I got in my hands I knew it was a big one,” he said. “I had a feeling it was a world record.”
Indeed, Elder’s fish caught on May 10 set a spearfishing world record for the International Underwater Spearfishing Association, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Prior to Elder’s catch, the sheepshead spearfishing world record of 15 pounds had been held since 2011, the outlet reported. When he got back to his dock, Elder used his scale to weigh the fish, which came in at a whopping 19.25 pounds, he said. However, because his personal scale isn’t certified, he had to wait two days to take the fish to a different scale.
By that time, the fish had lost some of its mass — weighing in at 17.4 pounds, Elder said. It was still a world record, though. “I’m happy with it, but I’m ready to get back out there and get a bigger one,” Elder said.
Because he wanted his fish to qualify for the record, Elder said he was unable to sell it. Instead, he kept it for his Mother’s Day dinner. Sheepshead are large fish with silver stripes that are commonly found in North America’s Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters, according to Britannica. The fish are typically about 2 feet to 2.5 feet long, but some specimens have been known to grow to about 25 pounds.
Several people commented on Elder’s catch on social media. “Dang,” one person commented on Facebook. “What a whopper.” “That fish is the biggest Sheepshead I have ever seen,” another person wrote. “That’s unreal,” a third person wrote.
Publication at: miamiherald.com