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THE 100-POUND STRIPED BASS

Striped bass in excess of 100 pounds have been documented in the past, but do they currently exist today?
By Toby Lapinski
THE 100-POUND STRIPED BASS
This FAKE image was augmented by the Dave Anderson to show what a world record striper might look like. Again, this image was produced simply to represent what a fish of the caliber discussed in the article might look like.

Recently I got to thinking about the upper size limit of the striped bass. Many people thought that Al McReynolds’ 78-plus-pounder would stand for a long time. While it held the top seat for nearly 30 years, it is not the true upper limit for striped bass by any means as several 100-plus-pounders have been documented over the years.

While all of those fish came up in nets, it only stands to reason that someone will eventually best a fish of that size on rod and reel. The likelihood of a fish of 100 pounds or more coming out of the surf is so slim as compared to the chances of it being lifted on to the deck of a boat that anyone truly feeling the fish will fall to such methods is a prime candidate for the loony bin. Still, though, we try.

So while many of us can only dream about landing a fish of record proportions, there have been several absolutely massive stripers recorded over the years. This leads me to dream about her existence in the off-season and hunt for her in the summer as I know a fish over the 100-pound mark swims in our waters today.

Take for instance the 92-pounder that was caught in a net by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fishery Service in 1995. The fish was not considered for the record as it was not caught on a rod and reel. While she was probably egg-laden at the time of her capture, it only goes to theorize that a stomach full of bunker could more than make up for the egg weight come late summer or early fall. Maybe she is trailing that school of bunker that’s making its way past your favorite striper rip as you read this…

Up in Rhode Island, the late Captain Don had a replica mount of a 90-pounder hanging in his tackle shop. That fish was supposedly taken in a net, again not eligible for the record but further proof of the existence of such fish in recent times.

I found information of a bass of 124 pounds that was supposedly taken in a net off of Nauset Beach on Cape Cod, a plaque in the park ranger office tells the story of the beast. However, I was unable to verify this account further. How many similarly-sized cows end up in the stomach of Jaws as it trails a pod of seals down the backside of the Cape?

According to the 1953 edition of Fishes of the Gulf of Maine by Bigelow and Schroeder, “several” fish of about 125 pounds were landed off the coast of North Carolina in 1891. Again, those fish were hauled up in a net but they serve to continue to feed the idea that such fish exist.

I have been told of other such fish taken over the years, many by commercial anglers where the fish ended up in the fish market rather than the record books eventually being eaten by an un-knowing restaurant patron. I wonder how a 125-pound striper tastes. I was once told of a story of a 90-something-pounder that was weighed at the Fulton Fish Market. The fish was purportedly gutted prior to the weight being recorded.


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