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Surprise Rockfish Catch Likely A State Record

An angler fishing in Alaska in 1,000 feet of water for black cod hooked the biggest rockfish he'd ever seen.

There’s a new state record for shortraker rockfish in Alaska, and at one point in time the fish in question was probably a world record. The catch was about as big as the species gets, and likely much older than the man who caught it. And as often happens, the angler who caught it was trying to catch a different species.

Keith DeGraff was fishing on July 28 with his fiancée Betsey Wilson and three friends in Prince William Sound, about 42 miles from Whittier, Alaska. The party fished from the Salmon Shark, a vessel rented from Whittier Marine Charters. On the first drift, two of the five anglers aboard had their fish.

“I decided to hit another bump, and sure enough, I hooked up,” he recalled. “I was immediately disappointed, because the way it was fighting, it felt like a halibut.” Not that there’s anything wrong with halibut, but they are readily available in relatively shallow water. DeGraff was fishing 1,000 feet deep, targeting black cod.

“When we got it to the surface, I saw it was the biggest rockfish I’d ever seen,” he said. “We hooted, we hollered, and then we headed on for other kinds of fishing.”

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