By Tina Comeau
The first day of fishing for Port Maitland resident Richard “Buck” Owen turned out to be the fishing trip of a lifetime last Wednesday.
While fishing the morning of July 29 up near Weymouth, Owen – on his first fishing trip of the season – snagged a 57-pound striped bass. He was fishing alone so he didn’t have anyone to share his excitement with. But when he came home with the proof people were impressed. “The store was just opening in Port Maitland where I live,” he said. “I pulled in and everyone was looking at it and saying, ‘Wow, that’s a big fish.’”
Owen took the fish to Seakist Lobster Ltd. in Overton to have it weighed on a certified scale, just in case it was a record catch. The fish, which measured 49 inches long (4.03 feet, or 1.24 metres), tipped the scale at 57 pounds – just shy of a provincial record from last year. In 2008, angler Christian LeVatte landed a 57.9-pound striped bass in Cape Breton.
Asked he how felt to have missed the record by 0.9 pounds, Owen said it was okay. “It’s still the fish of a lifetime,” he said.
Owen was standing on the shoreline when he cast his line. A few minutes earlier he had caught a 10-or-12 pounder but had lost it. Using a lure that looked like a mackerel he tried again. “I cast the line into the current and it hit and it didn’t splash or anything. It was swimming right at me and I was reeling real fast trying to catch up with it, “ he said. He thought he had lost his catch but then the line became tight. “I could see it because the water was crystal clear,” he said. He caught a flash of it and thought it was a 20 or 25-pound fish. “They have to be 26.8 inches long to keep it. I said, well, that’s a 20-or-25-pounder, that’s going to be a really nice fish.”
Owen fought the fish for around 15 minutes. As he watched it move back and forth he realized his guesstimate on its weight was off…by about 25 or 30 pounds.
The bass tired before Owen did. He got it on its side, grabbed it by the gills and hauled it up. By this point he was standing waist deep in water in his hip waders. “When I got onto the beach I was holding it up here,” he said, pointing up past his waist, “and the tail was dragging on the ground.”
Asked last Wednesday what he intended to do with his catch, he said, “Probably eat it.”
But with so much fish, he said he might invite a few friends over to share in the feast.
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By Tina Comeau