Coast Guard angler reels in world record

KODIAK, Alaska – Petty Officer 2nd Class Brenton Weller reeled in a world record while at sea Saturday but not the typical halibut or salmon trophy – it’s a starry flounder.

Weller, an aviation maintenance technician on the Coast Guard’s HH-65 Dolphin helicopters at Air Station Kodiak, was fishing from a boat during off time with a friend near Pillar Creek off Kodiak Island when he hooked and landed the large starry flounder.

Weller explained the fish is not typically thought of as a sport fish but are commonly found in the waters around Kodiak and can be hooked while anglers are fishing for other ground species or salmon. The starry flounder is a common North Pacific flatfish. It has very notable features including the black and white-to-orange bars on the dorsal and anal fins. The skin is covered with scales in tiny star-shaped plates. They can be found as far south as Japan and Korea, ranging through the Aleutian Islands, the coast of Alaska, Canada, and down the West Coast of the U.S. as far south as Southern California.

Weller kept the fish, but didn’t believe it was a world record. Spurred on by friends Weller had the flounder weighed on a State of Alaska certified scale at Island Seafoods and checked the current record upon his return.

“This was a whole new thing for me but my neighbor thankfully knew the process,” said Weller. “It’s pretty serious. We took the fish to a certified scale and the paperwork was witnessed. We also had to have the Alaska Department of Fish and Game confirm the species.”

KODIAK, Alaska - Aviation Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Brenton Weller holds his world record 13.2 pound starry flounder caught off Kodiak June 27, 2010.

The fish was confirmed as a starry flounder and weighed in at 13 pounds 2 ounces, more than 2 pounds larger than the previous record holder caught in 2007 off the coast of California.

Weller is in the process of submitting the verified paperwork to the International Game Fish Association who keeps the official records. The IGFA tracks records for more than 1,100 species of fish worldwide.

“You can go through all the different species of fish from a marlin to my little starry flounder and next to it will say my name and the current weight,” said Weller.

Weller has been in Kodiak for a year and plans to continue fishing. He learned to fish as a child in Michigan near the Great Lakes, growing up just outside Detroit in Southgate. When asked, Weller said he caught the monster on a chrome silver prism Krocodile spoon.

“I never would think that I’d reel in a world record, especially of this species,” said Weller. “You hear world records and you’re thinking barn door-sized halibut so to bring this in was kind of a shock.”

Weller at the suggestion of friends may mount the flounder tail on a plaque as one would a large halibut and will continue to seek those elusive big fish.

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