Catch of the day: Kitty Hawk fisherman spears potential world record sheepshead

Quinton Turko weighed in his potential world record at TW’s Nags Head store on Sunday. [TW’s/Facebook photo]

Quentin Turko of Kitty Hawk may have speared himself right into the record books over the weekend.

Weighing in at 16.8 pounds, it would set a new International Underwater Spearfishing Association world record for an Atlantic sheepshead caught with a speargun. The old record is 15 pounds, speared in 2011 by Kyle Barnell.

Sheepshead (Archosargus protobatocephalus) are found in saltwater and brackish coastal waters around jetties, wharfs, pilings, shipwrecks and other structures covered with barnacles, mussels and oysters.

They have well-defined, almost human-like, teeth to scrape and crush mollusks and crustaceans, such as fiddler crabs, which also makes them difficult to hook because they take the bait fast.

Because Turko caught the monster with a speargun, rather than on hook-and-line, it is not eligible for a citation from the North Carolina Salt Water Fishing Tournament.

A sheepshead weighing 8 pounds or more earns an angler a certificate from the Division of Marine Fisheries.

The state record for sheepshead caught on a hook-and-line is 19.25 pounds, caught off Oregon Inlet by Chris Robbins.

The International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record is 21.25 pounds caught off New Orleans in 1982.

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