New York Angler Reels in 52-Inch Striper During Rainstorm

While fishing from shore during a low-pressure rainstorm over Long Island, Erica O'Donnell caught the fish of a lifetime measuring 52 inches.

Erica O'Donnell 52 Inch Striped Bass

Erica O’Donnell holding her personal best striper of 52-inches.

For Erica O’Donnell and her fiance, Paulie Martin, April 12 will be a day forever etched in their memories.

Pouring rain, cold, and wind made for less-than-ideal spring striper fishing conditions. O’Donnell said they weren’t planning on fishing, but they mustered up the energy and made a play west to an unfamiliar area on Long Island.

“It was very unplanned. We scoped out spots and spent several hours trying to figure out the dynamic of the area,” O’Donnell said.

After running into some crowds around sunset, they hoofed it and found their own spot in a secluded part of a bay during a storm. The legwork paid off, as the two found a consistent pick of keeper-sized striped bass on bone-colored Daiwa SP Minnows.

After 7 hours of striper fishing in waders, the tail end of the incoming tide was approaching, and O’Donnell was going through the motions, ready to make a couple more casts and head home for the night. Between the two of them, they had caught 25 fish on the evening of the April new moon.

As the wind blew from the northwest at 2 am, O’Donnell made one final cast and, halfway through the retrieve, her fishing lure got smashed by a giant fish.

“I wasn’t prepared for the fish,” said O’Donnell, who currently lives on Long Island. “I haven’t felt a fish test my drag like that before. I leaned back and couldn’t reel for several minutes at a time.”

With wet hands and sore arms and lights in the distance, O’Donnell slowly walked backwards to get line back on her fishing reel. “I was scared about tripping and falling backwards.”

After an 8-minute fight, the striper was spent, and O’Donnell was able to land the largest fish of her life, 52 inches in length, with the help of her fiance. “Paulie is the real MVP. He pulled the fish out of the water for me,” O’Donnell said.

Long Island 52 Inch Striped Bass
Erica O’Donnell’s 52-inch striper swam away to be caught again.

32 on “New York Angler Reels in 52-Inch Striper During Rainstorm

  1. Robert P. Rumore

    Nice fish. That’s pretty early for a fish that big. What part of Long Isalnd were you in? I do not want your exact spot!!!!

  2. William Elwood

    Very nice fish, good work returning her in good health. I’m waiting for her! Sandwich, MA.

  3. Ed schultz

    Great catch a fish of a lifetime is a feeling that only fisherman understand

  4. Ernest Wilson

    In Maryland we aren’t allowed to keep stripers(rockfish). With the fishery in steep decline it is disheartening to read about people catching 25 “keeper sized” stripers and killing a fish of this size.

    1. Mike

      Don’t be so disheartened, most states only allow one to be harvested, usually restricted 28-34”. The cow in the article was released.

    2. Bobby

      If your read the story the fish was released, stop being a unprovoked Karen

    3. Douglas Schroeder

      You don’t read too well, fish was returned to water. NY has a slot limit, and a season. As the saying goes ” over and out”

    4. Chris

      Disheartening? Read the article! They released their catches including the one pictured.

  5. Mathew Combs

    Final casts in fishing, are like dog years and human years. If one, final cast is being claimed, for me that means twenty more.
    This is what is meant when a fishing reporter says that someone put their time in on the beach. Many people don’t realize what fishing teaches you about adjusting, persevering, researching, and having the fortitude to endure the weather.
    My grandparents had many happy moments of fishing together. My Pop Pop always said how well my Mom Mom could catch flounder. I’m sure they appreciated their fishing time. It sounds like the young couple share a common bond on the water, which can take them into the sunset of many fishing days. That fish was almost my age in inches. Haha! Now, I just need to get my lifetime fish! Tight lines!

  6. STEVE DOLAN

    Congrats!! Always make that “last” cast. Thats when the magic happens

    1. Scott Verdin

      Nice fish story, When I started surf fishing in the early 1970s with my uncle and myself I would use a similar technique of backing up to keep a tight line fighting Bluefish up to 20 pounds and Stripers up to 50 pounds .We would use Bloodworms and fresh cut bunker for bait and 10 ft Fenwick surf poles. Those memories are as fresh in my mind as yesterday and im sure this young woman will cherish this impressive catch the rest of her life.
      It was also nice to see this great fish swim off to spawn another day.
      Tight lines

  7. Marc Liebert

    Awesome, happy you let her go to make more. They dont get that big on San Francisco bay anymore.

  8. James

    They will think about that fish the rest of their lives God bless !

  9. Julian

    That’s why I named my first boat, an 18ft Maycraft, the Last Cast

  10. Chef

    Nothing in the story says they kept the fish. I believe “keeper size” was used as a reference
    In fact the pictures caption says the fish “swam away to be caught again”

  11. Richard Barron

    Great striped bass and awesome control over her during the fight. Dude your girlfriend is the coolest girl ever. what a fisherwoman. I’m a Huge Fan! As far as my PB it was a 57 ” 47 lb on a Sunday AM @ about 9AM in the Cape Cod Canal about 15 years ago. I took her home for my family and I to eat which I would not do now due to the lessening and conservation efforts to bring up their Bio mass again

  12. Capt. Sid Gorman

    I I have to wonder how many eggs won’t be laid by that fish now that it’s stressed out so you can get your picture. It was obviously looking to spawn. Striper numbers are dwindling from Virginia to Massachusetts in Maryland where most stripers spawn we are coming close to having a close season on striper fishing. I think we all need to give some thought to a self-imposed stoppage of the catch and release season. It’s great to catch a big fish my clients have caught many but I think now we really need to give it some thought and let them rebuild their numbers so the big fish will be around for children and children’s children I myself have stopped all catch and release and trophy season or what’s left of it in Maryland. Inow Charter offshore and I’m a firm believer that we need to take care of our Fisheries

  13. Russ

    If you read the caption under the last picture the fish was released to live another day.
    In NY you’re not allowed to keep Striped Bass over 32″ I believe.

    1. Captain Sid Gorman

      Russ, releasing the fish is fine that is not the issue. The issue comes in with a striped bass Laden with thousands of eggs being caught and then lifted out of the water for a picture. This causes undo stress to the fish and can screw with it’s egg laying capability

  14. MassBear

    That fish likely died from lack of oxygen because you needed your camera moment. Grow up.

  15. ANTHONY DURSO

    Come on. .give her a break. She released it!! Its a catch of a life time. And it swam away !!!

  16. Montauk Gal

    Wonderful ! From your hook to mine hopefully ! I got my very first bass on my last cast – !
    Congrats !

  17. Steve Fritz

    The fellas’ that are complaining here probably hold commercial tags in addition to running charters…how about gamefish status ???
    Probably don’t like that idea.
    Great catch, great release, great start to a life together as fishing partners for life!!

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