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For Release: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

DEC Announces New State Marine Fishing Records for Bonito and Sheepshead

Fall 2020 Catches at Atlantic Beach Reef and Reynolds Channel Set New Records

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced new state records for Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda) and sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) in the marine and coastal district waters of New York. Both catches took place in 2020 and were recently confirmed by DEC as record-breakers. The bonito was caught off of the State's Atlantic Beach Artificial Reef and the sheepshead was caught in Reynolds Channel.

"From the Atlantic Ocean to coastal bays and tidal rivers, New York's marine waters offer exceptional saltwater fishing opportunities and I'm excited to congratulate Matthew Kessinger and James Torborg for setting these new State records for bonito and sheepshead," Commissioner Seggos said. "It is particularly exciting that the record bonito was caught off one of New York's recently expanded artificial reefs, proving that Governor Cuomo's investments in improving water quality and enhancing marine habitats are benefiting New York's fisheries and recreational fishing community."

Matthew Kessinger of Oceanside reeled in a new marine fishing record for Atlantic bonito off of Atlantic Beach Artificial Reef in November 2020. Just last fall, Atlantic Beach Reef (leaves DEC's website) received 16 of a total 75 rail cars donated by Wells Fargo Rail Corporation to New York State as part of Governor Cuomo's ongoing artificial reef initiative (leaves DEC's website). The impressive catch, weighing a total of 13.45 pounds, exceeded the previous state record of 12.49 pounds set by Angelo Peluso in 2003. Similar to tuna and sharks, Atlantic bonito are largely pelagic species living mostly in the open ocean. These fish migrate to New York's marine waters during the summer and typically start to swim south through the fall.

James Torborg of Atlantic Beach set a new record for sheepshead. His catch in September 2020 in Reynolds Channel weighed 13.9 pounds and surpasses the previous state record of 13.36 pounds caught in 2016 by Peter Kruczko. There is currently no recreational size and possession limits on bonito and sheepshead, and these fish can be harvested year-round.

Kessinger and Torborg submitted details of their record-breaking catches to DEC's Marine Fishing Records Program. Through this program, anglers submit entries of marine fish that may exceed the current record. Catches must be weighed at an official weigh station on a certified scale. Check out the complete list of New York's Marine Fishing Records on DEC's website. If an angler thinks their next catch could be a record-breaker, visit DEC's Marine Fishing Records Program for information about how to submit marine records for certification, or email

Visitors to New York's Artificial Reefs are encouraged to share observations using the Artificial Reef Volunteer Fishing & Diving Survey and check out the Artificial Reefs Interactive Map to learn more about reef site characteristics, materials used, coordinates of individual patch reefs, and the history of deployments.

Anglers are reminded to enroll in New York's no-fee Marine Recreational Fishing Registry before going fishing and check the current Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations in effect.

Man kneeling on a dock with a large fish
Matthew Kessinger with record-breaking 13.45-pound bonito

Man standing, displaying large fish
James Torborg with record-breaking 13.90-pound sheepshead

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  • NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources
    205 N Belle Mead Road, Suite 1
    East Setauket, NY 11733
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