Editor's Log: 64 Years Ago This Week - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: 64 Years Ago This Week

We all complain about social media, especially the crazy stuff we see posted on Facebook.  But a few months ago I stumbled upon this item from Steve Dodson in a private group page about Long Beach Island that appears pulled from a 1950s newspaper headline.

November 12, 1959 – Record Striper Caught In Boat By M. Upperman
Maker Of Bucktail Lure Takes 63-Pounder Off Barnegat Light Last Week

Thanks to Steve for sharing this one, and to the folks who manage that page dedicated mostly to historic information about the barrier island home of my youth.  I’m not sure of the source of this fish tale, but I’m assuming some local newspaper that has since been gobbled up and broken down by a huge media conglomerate.  Before digressing into a rant about the loss of local journalism, I thought folks might be interested in what happened 64 years ago this week.

The heaviest striped bass ever caught in the State of New Jersey and the third heaviest ever taken in the United States was boated by Morrie Upperman of Atlantic City last Thursday while trolling 200 feet off the beach at Barnegat Light in the boat, Rascal, captained by Ike Beach of Barnegat Light.

The striper weighed 63 pounds 10 ounces. Upperman weighed it officially at Striped Bass headquarters in Ship Bottom. It wasn’t eligible for entry in the Derby, though, because it wasn’t caught from the beach. Upperman said it could have hooked from the beach because it was so close to shore.  Fishing with him were his brother Bill, Clay Adams of Northfield and Elmer Gregory of Somers Point.  The boat reached the fishing spot at noon and the big fish hit the Upperman Bucktail lure, which the brothers invented and market at their factory a half our later.

Upperman reported that the big striper came out of the water like a tarpon and then battled with all of its strength for approximately 30 minutes until Morrie could work him to the boat and play out his energy. The angler was using 45-pound test line.  He called the boating of the fish the most exciting thing by far which has happened to him during his more than 30 years of pursuing stripers.  During that time Morrie and Bill have caught thousands of bass. But both have been waiting for that big one which would climax their years of search. That time came for Morrie Thursday.

“I knew it was big when it hit and jumped. And I knew it was mighty strong by the way it battled. Capt. Beach had a tough time gaffing it and hauling it aboard the boat, but when I saw its big, beautiful head I gave it a big kiss and murmured, “Dear God, this one’s a record.” 

The heaviest striper ever recorded was a 73-pounder caught at Vineyard South, Mass. in 1913. The heaviest ever taken in the state was a 61-pounder caught three years ago.

To complete the big day, Gregory hooked and boated a 40-pounder about 1:30. The others struck out, but the excitement of the record-breaker was enough for one day for all of the anglers. 

Back to the future – the IGFA world record striped bass mark would be eclipsed a few more times since that write-up from ’59; there was Charlie Cinto (73 pounds in 1967, which tied Charles Church’s 73-pounder in 1913), Capt. Bob Rochetta (76 pounds in 1981), Al McReynolds (78-1/2 pounds in 1982) and ultimately Greg Myerson (81 pounds, 14 ounces in 2011).

Also of note is Steve Thomas’ IGFA 12-pound line class record at Bradley Beach, NJ on November 1, 1979, a 66-pound, 12-ounce striper that fell for a rigged eel.  Suffice to say, November’s a good time for finding personal bests at the Jersey Shore, and future headlines!

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