Fisherman’s record catch boasts ‘human teeth’

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By Dan Sears

It might be sheepshead but it’s teeth were very human.

Maryland fisherman Brian Summerlin freaked out the internet after snagging a record 17-pound fish that possessed a mouthful of “human teeth.”

“They’re amazing fish that have adapted to the food they eat,” the 38-year-old angler told Pen News of his anthropomorphic-looking haul, which he caught on September 17 in the Tangier Sound off Crisfield.

The fish was a sheepshead, a bottom-dwelling species that uses its eerily human-like chompers to pulverize the barnacles and crustaceans on which it feeds.

Accompanying photos show the dentally-endowed swimmer, whose teeth evoke a regular fish after being squirted with the Joker’s laughing gas.

Summerlin had reportedly been fishing with soft crab in around 15 feet of water when something big bit his line.

“I thought it was a black drum at first, due to the way the fish was fighting with some big head shakes, but then I saw it was a very large sheepshead as it surfaced near the boat,” Summerlin said.

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“They’re amazing fish that have adapted to the food they eat,” said Brian Summerlin, 38.

“They have front teeth that can bite off barnacles from any underwater structure. They also have molar-like teeth on the top and bottom of their mouths to crush crustaceans.

Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin
“My daughter wants to keep the teeth to put under her pillow for the tooth fairy because they look just like human teeth,” said Summerlin.
Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin
The teeth evoked something out of a dentist’s waiting room manual.
Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin

Needless to say, landing this “hard-fighting” bottom feeder was no mean feat given its penchant for hunkering down in the pilings and cutting off people’s lines.

“They want to go back to the bottom – oftentimes you can lose them, because they want to go to a structure on the bottom where your line can be cut,” the Princess Anne native recalled.

Even after he heeded his friends’ advice to set the drag to 25 pounds, the monster fish still managed to pull the line under the boat.

Summerlin with his record-setting sheepshead.
Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin

After Summerlin saw the sheepshead break the water, he knew he had a contender for the state record.

The Marylander confirmed his achievement after putting his chonky crab cruncher on the scale, where it clocked in at a whopping 16.6 pounds, smashing the previous record of 14.1 set in 2020.

To put these colossal quarries in perspective, the average sheepshead weighs in at around 3 to 4 pounds.

The fish’s record-setting weight was verified via certified scales at Kool Ice and Seafood Company in Cambridge and has since been officially recognized by the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The fish weighed 16.6 pounds.
Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin

“I’m pretty excited about it,” gushed Summerlin. “I always knew there was a possibility to break the record.”

Not one to waste the mountain of meat, the overjoyed angler brought home the barnacle eating behemoth, which he said is one of his family’s “favorite fish to eat.”

Here’s hoping they remember to remove the “dentures” before dining.

In fact, Summerlin says his daughter wants to “keep the teeth to put under her pillow for the tooth fairy” due to their resemblance to human meat mashers.

The fish measured 26.25 inches in length, nearly the size of a keeper striped bass.
Credit: Pen News/Brian Summerlin

The sheepshead’s Chiclet-evoking chompers have no doubt solidified its spot in the pantheon of similarly human-mouthed seafood, including the pufferfish and triggerfish.

The latter’s luscious lips have even earned it comparisons to the pronounced plumps of the Kardashian clan (Kim Carpdashian?).

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