The One That Wasn’t Getting Away


striped bass, hand lining, delaware, sussex county, strped bass, rockfish, linesider,
Bryan Wheatley, his broken rod and the fish that didn’t get away.

We all have a fishing story about the one that got away.  It is usually about the largest fish you ever caught and keeps you up at night in a cold sweat thinking about it.  Every year the fish gets bigger and the story gets better.  You tell the story over and over again through the years, and it always gets better with age.  The one thing that always comes up is what you should have done to not lose that fish.  Set the hook better, lighten the drag, tighten the drag, hold the rod better, and of course not lose the fish in the first place.  Bryan Wheatley didn’t want to have to tell that story, so he made it happen.  This is the first story I have heard of an angler tossing the broken rod to the side grabbing the line and horsing in a large striped bass, by hand.  I know it has happened before, but this is my fist time hearing a story like this.

A few days ago Bryan and Paul Higs were out fishing, they have been catching rockfish all season.  Some days are better than others, and you just never know how things will turn out.  Bryan told me the tale of the one he was not going to let get away.    “Well the story really all started with our bad luck earlier that morning.  Only two of us on board, so one man had to stay on the wheel, the first fish we hook up we get it boat side, I try to reach down and grab her and we lose her.  Probably around a 38″ striped bass. Strike one, second fish  hooks up about a half hour later, a roller Rod bends over, pulls hard, and just snapped the leader.  I knew I should have double checked, but was a little lazy after Paul Higs cooked up breakfast.  Strike two!  Third fish hooks up about another half hour later and I’m not getting strike three  The drag screams with a serious bend in the rod, so I know it’s a nice fish.  I got her about twenty to twenty-five  feet from the boat, she pulls hard one good time and snaps the rod!   I reach down and grab the line, I threw everything else to the deck, and start hand-over-hand till I get her close to the boat, I reach down behind the gill plate of my first 50″ fish.  Finally in the club, we didn’t weigh her but she was  a post spawn fish.   I’m gonna miss that rod. She’s been a catchin machine for 5+ years.”

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You just never know what you will have to do to land that fish of a lifetime, because being able to prove the size of the one that didn’t get away is priceless.  Bryan has a story he can tell for years to come.  Let Me Tell You About The One That Didn’t Get Away!

Fish On!!

Rich King

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