Hunting Fishing

More often than not, the ‘one that got away’ wasn’t all that to begin with

Just about every angler has one or more stories about the big one that got away. I do!

I’m scouting San Luis about a month ago and I’m trolling as usual when the pole bends. I start reeling in fast. It feels heavy – could it be a big striper?

As the the line draws near it feels lighter, so I kind of dismiss the big- fish thought – until it gets under the boat. The line takes off straight down with my reel screaming! This is a good fish! I fight it as it swims around the boat 60 feet down, shaking its head. It heads down every time I try to get it up. What do I have on?

It’s hot and I’ve been fighting this beast for around 20 minutes, longer by far than any striper I’ve ever fought. I’m beginning to think this fish is well over 40 pounds and I’m praying it doesn’t come off – or the hooks give out! Just let me see it! It’s a standoff – unbelievable! What kind of fish could this be, maybe over 50? When is this fish going to give up?

The battle turns and I feel the fish coming up behind the boat. Maybe my net is too small for it, what will I do then? A huge shape slides up from the depths and I gasp as it swims by. What? It’s a huge striper, but only around 25-26 pounds and around 40 inches – not the giant over 40 I was sure was on my line. Deflated! The “one that didn’t get away!” gave me pause.

Then I see that the fish was hooked on the rear treble of the lure on top of its head! Talk about leverage. It must have swiped at the lure and gotten snagged. Happy, but very disappointed, I release the otherwise beautiful fish which normally would have been cause for celebration.

I have to confess that if I had lost that fish without ever seeing it, I would have told you it was the biggest one I’ve ever hooked at San Luis. The epic fight and heavy weight had me convinced that I had hooked a monster. It would have gone into my library of Monster Fish stories for retelling whenever I need to top someone else’s near-miss story. You have to have at least a few of these stories in your arsenal to be called a fisherman! In fact, some folks would rather have one of these tales to tell than the real thing; you can make your fish as big as you want. I almost did!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had guys tell me similar stories that dwarf “Old Man and the Sea” tales and swear that they are true. In some cases these encounters are truthful, but many seem to have grown with age and the constant retelling.

Yes, anglers do hook up with monsters, but I’m convinced from my experience that many of these fond experiences are just occurrences of being snagged, hooking another angler’s line, snagging a small fish that feels heavy, etc. – and many times just sheer exaggeration and imagination. Our minds can do all kinds of things when we want something badly, and sometimes egos may be involved. But who’s counting?

Yes, I’m guilty of the crime. It’s just human nature to want something to be special and an experience that you never forget. Go easy on anglers who do this – it’s their dream you’re messing with, after all! I submit to you that that’s fishing!

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert:, Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars