Rhode Island Surfcaster Catches 58-Pound November Striper
Rhode Island fisherman Nick Gibbs shares his story of catching a fish-of-a-lifetime 58-pound striped bass from shore:
Monday, November 5th, 2012 was a clear, cold night with temperatures in the high 20s. Despite the cold, I was anxious to go fishing, as the previous few nights we had been doing well. We had established a pattern, and were catching fish on black lures early in the night before moonrise. On that night, I was fishing a black Bomber plastic plug, and soon after arriving I had a fish hit the plug three consecutive times on one cast, but it never took it. Things were quiet, and after a while my friend Dave McAleer moved down next to me and commented on the lack of action compared to the night prior.
I replied that there are definitely some fish here though, and moments later had a hit. Initially I didn’t think it was anything special as I set the hook, but then she took off, making a run for a rockpile. I knew then that this had to be a big fish, and that I had to turn her head.
I started walking down current, trying to gain position while letting Dave know I was on with a good one. There was no stopping this fish from going toward the boulders up current, so I went against everything I know and decided to carefully apply extra drag to my spool as it ran, while continuing down current to try to gain a better angle.
Finally, I turned the fish and gained most of my line back. It worked back and forth right in front of me and made another short run. Dave stood by, helping me keep my head in the fight, and our friend Lucas Berg joined us after hearing the commotion. At this point I was just trying to keep the fish positioned in front of me, slowly lifting and taking line. When I saw the leader, Dave reminded me to just keep steady pressure and slowly walk backwards to bring the fish onto the beach
Lucas saw the fish first and yelled, “Holy shit, that’s huge!”
The fish was now in just a few inches of water. I walked up, grabbed it and dragged it up on the beach into a bed of seaweed.
We all stood there staring, all dumbfounded.
I told my friends that I didn’t need to fish for a little while as I needed to stare at this fish. While everyone else kept fishing to see if, by chance, there was another solo bass prowling the area, I was perfectly content to stand in the cold, pacing back and forth and staring at the fish.
We finally decided to leave around 9, but had some trouble finding a place to weigh the fish. After several staring sessions and many photos, we finally tried All American Foods, a distributor in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The manager seemed a little skeptical of two crazy kids in waders at 12:30 am, but he agreed to weigh the fish.
After several more staring sessions and photo ops, including one in the parking lot of a 7-11 that attracted the attention of a police officer, we put the fish on ice. After 3 hours of sleep, I took the fish to Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle in North Kingstown, where it was weighed in at 58.445 pounds.
Thank’s to the guys at Quaker Lane, especially Steve McKenna and Mike Gill, who have been an invaluable source and surfcasting mentors, Mario Fernandes for skills he’s taught me that have branched out to all areas of fishing, “Dually” Dave McAleer helping me keep my head in the game, Lucas Berg, the only person who will fish endless hours with me, my family, and most of all my Father, Mark Gibbs, for introducing to fishing as a boy and carrying me back to the truck on those those late nights surfcasting. Without you I would’ve never had the confidence or know how to have made this happen. – Nick Gibbs