So I did a little research and found out that the first Fourth of July celebration was held in Eastport, Maine, in 1820. During that celebration, thousands of miles away off the coast of Alaska, the rockfish in the photo below was happily swimming around. At the time it was only seven years old. That means the 40-pound rockfish, caught by Henry Liebman off Sitka, AK, on June 25, survived 199 years of Fourth of July angling onslaughts before finally getting duped by an angler’s line. Now that’s impressive.
According to this story in the Sitka Sentinel, not only does the fish beat out the current 38.69-pound record rockfish, it may actually be older than 200 years, which is currently just an estimation of its age. To understand how this conclusion has been drawn, you first must understand that there are a whole bunch of rockfish species in Alaska. This one is techinally a shortraker, but there is also a rougheye that looks very similar. It’s confusing, I know, but it might help you make more sense of this quote from the story:
Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, certified Liebman’s catch, and said this fish might be in the neighborhood of 200 years old. “The rougheye is the oldest-aged fish at 205,” Tydingco said. He said the longevity record for shortrakers, which are often confused with rougheyes, is 175 years. But that record fish, he said “was quite a bit smaller than the one Henry caught. That fish was 32 and a half inches long, where Henry’s was almost 41 inches, so his could be substantially older.”
Liebman says he plans to mount the fish. I get it, but at the same time, you’d have the most popular Fourth of July picnic in the neighborhood with those 40-pounds of 200-year-old deliciousness roasting on the barbie. Have a great holiday, and catch something epic!