TeamWhyKnot’s 2016 Top Catches!

2016 was an awesome year for Why Knot Fishing and all of our team members.  We successfully hosted many events, fishing meet-ups and tournaments and had a blast engaging with the fishing community in New England and across the country!

Take a look below at some of our Team Captains and Team Members’ top and most memorable catches from 2016, and hopefully they inspire you to get out there and have a great 2017!

Tight Lines – #TeamWhyKnot


Jennifer Tatelman – 1st Permit on Fly

2016 was a very fishful year for me. I had the opportunity to travel to El Pescador in Belize which was truly a trip of a lifetime. We got on the water by sunrise every morning, fished until sunset, and had cracked a Belikin by about 9am almost every day. Once we had our fair share of Bonefish for the first part of the trip we were off to hunt Permit & Tarpon. It wasn’t until midweek of the trip that I landed my first Permit on the fly.

This Permit was traveling in a small school and was easily spooked (which I learned after missing several other opportunities). The excitement of fighting and landing this fish was overwhelming. Once on board I was jumping for joy. I would definitely have to rank this as my “best” but really most memorable fish of 2016. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for ’17.

Ben Whalley – Big Early Season Brook Trout on the Fly

One of my top catches this year wasn’t a new species or largest on fly for me, but it ranks up there for me for several reasons. It was an early season trip that was decided on last minute, freezing rain and low water levels left us feeling skeptical the fish had moved up yet. With the odds stacked against us we hit the road at 2:30am to make it there by first light and to claim our stretch of river. Upon arrival the anticipation was building quickly so we geared up and ran down to the river to find it all to ourselves. Within the first 30 min. both of us were hooked up and pulling wild Brookies. After 3 hrs we had over 15 fish, all of which were over 18″ with 8 in the 22-24″ class. We called it around 10 am and drove back closer to home to perform Brook Trout studies for IF&W. It was an amazing adventure, and one I won’t soon forget. Cant wait for spring to arrive to see if we can repeat!

Mike Kelley – Sailfish in Guatemala

2016 was by far my best year for fishing. Lots and lots of memorable catches were made, but there is one that will be etched in my mind forever. I had the opportunity earlier this season to fish down in Costa Rica on an all expenses paid trip at the ultimate fishing destination, The Zancudo Lodge.

(I actually won the trip thru a Striped Bass Photo release contest put on by The Fisherman Magazine. Thanks to my good buddy Matt Zimmermann who took me fishing up on Boston’s North Shore, put me on the fish, and snapped the winning photo!)

So, I made the journey down in May 2016 and had the time of my life. It was honestly like a dream come true. I was lucky enough to catch many bucket list species during the three days I spent fishing which included big Jack Crevalles, all sorts of Snappers and the prized Roosterfish! Although these were all great catches.

On the second day of fishing we headed offshore and I hooked into the fish of a lifetime, a 220 lb. Pacific Blue Marlin, after a epic 40 minute battle, arms and back aching soaked with sweat from head to toe, I was finally able to grab hold of my very first Billfish! Here’s to a even better 2017! Happy New Year!

Jesse Minoski, Hobie Fishing Team, Little Harbor Boathouse – Personal Best Striped Bass & Kayak Tautog

Thankfully 2016 was saved for me by the luck of some seriously great friends. Due to my move from Connecticut to Massachusetts, I didn’t get a chance to spend the time in the water that I usually do. With that being said, I spent countless nights driving home to CT to take part in numerous night time boat striped bass hunts. Leaving immediately after work and rushing down to beat the traffic, only to fish all night and sleep in the back of my car before driving back up the next am for work. After two trips I had mentioned to Jeff that Mikey and I had never broken the 30 pound mark for Striped Bass. It wasn’t a day after that, that I was headed back out to search for some nighttime fish.

We had one goal and one goal only, to smash the 30 pound mark with the biggest fish we could possibly find willing to play. We had fished the spot a few weeks ago, I knew where we were going but we were all ready for war with giants. We were immediately into fish within the first three casts. The fishing was on fire! Bass and bluefish pushing 20 pounds were basically every cast. I had never in my life thought I would ever get sick of 20 pound fish, but we made the call to move and find our cows. Plugs came off all the lines and eels dominated the lineup as we slowly slid the boat into our spot.

With out a single word spoken we slung eels for over an hour before we finally came tight. Mikey was first with an absolute slob! 38 pounds on the scale without breaking a sweat! I had never seen anything so big and amazing in my life. After the pictures and a speedy release I got my shot at the helm. Second cast in I was hit hard. After a few tense minutes, I finally got her boat side. It was something I had never witnessed on the end of my line. She weighed in at a solid 35 pounds (estimated)! My three year search for a 30 pounder had ended on a night that could only be described as EPIC! Thanks Jeff!

2016 was one of those seasons that reflecting back you ask yourself how can you top that type of season? With the big move out of the way, finding time on the water this season seemed to be a bit harder than normal. But long weekends back in Connecticut never stopped producing perfect weather for fishing. One of my final trips this season, we headed out early am looking for the last remnants of the False Albacore run and the beginning of the Tautog season. While the Albies decided not to hang out with us that morning the Striped Bass were more than willing to indulge in some of the most spectacular topwater strikes I had seen this season. Fish after fish for over an hour had proved to us that there was an abundance of life in the area.

A quick paddle over to a rock pile, and we were now ready to start sending our couple hundred Asian crabs down to the depths. Having never tried to fish for them, I had donated well over half of my box to the fish before I actually connected with a fish. After a few more shorts and a another jump to a new spot, I finally felt more comfortable with the technique. I quickly cut my crab and popped the hook in. Within a moment or two of hitting the ground, I felt that sharp tap on the line! The drag engaged as I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish made its way to the surface as I splashed the net as quick as I could underneath it. I had never even seen one of these fish this morning and now I was holding a pretty decent first keeper. It was one of the best way I could think of to finish the season on the yak!

Sean Kearney – 1st Bonefish on the Fly

Out of all of my proudest catches from 2016, this fish sits at the top of the list. This was a DIY Bonefish I landed on the fly down in South Andros, Bahamas over the summer while on a spearfishing vacation. This Bonefish was particularly significant because not only was it my first ever Bone, but it was also the first fish I’ve ever landed on a fly rod! My friends and I were spotting Bones on the flats in front of our beach house all week. Each day at low tide we would wade a mile down and a mile back sight casting to 6 or 8 fish per walk. Sometimes we’d make 2 or 3 loops.

After 4 days and countless sightings with no takes or hookups, I finally was able to place a fly right in front of a Bone before it saw me. It only took two strips and I was locked into one of the most exciting battles with a fish I’ve ever had. I couldn’t believe a fish that size could take me well into the backing on my Cheeky Boost 400 fly reel. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time but inside I was terrified of losing this fish. When I finally slid the fish up onto a shallow sandbar my friends and I were more excited than a 10 year old on Christmas. That was the only Bone we ended up hooking, but it was surely a fish we’ll never forget. I would like to give a special thanks to Peter Jenkins of The Saltwater Edge in Middletown, RI for giving me some helpful advice before my trip, and for giving me the Orvis fly rod that landed that fish!

A few catches deserve an honorable mention for my best catch of 2016. Those wold be my first Striped Bass on the fly rod, a respectable mid-30 inch fish from shore. My first Ling Cod caught in Oregon from an ocean jetty which after landing over 50 of them last winter remains as my largest ever. A 50 inch, 49 pound Striped Bass from shore which was my largest of 2016. Last but not least a 5 foot Sturgeon (In Oregon where it is legal to target) which is now the biggest fish I’ve ever landed on rod and reel!

 

Chuck Yauch – 45-inch Muskie on the Fly!

My first Muskie on the fly, gonna be hard to beat. What makes this one special is I was by myself next to the insane Rapids of the Niagara River behind me. What an experience!

Lance Stehman – Personal Best Redfish

This true beast of a Redfish at 47 inches, was caught on my LIVE Watersports SUP, and is a catch that I will surely never forget. Before this day my personal record Redfish was 33 inches and my buddy put me on a 40, 43, and this 47 inch Redfish all in the same trip!

 

Abbie Schuster, Kismet Outfitters – Bahamian Bonefish

This Bonefish was caught on Andros Island in the Bahamas. This was such a fun fish for so many reasons. One, I was actually fishing not guiding for a change. I love guiding, but it is so refreshing just to fish for yourself sometimes. This was a single fish cruising the flats. We watched him for a while. He was still far away, but the temptation was strong and my chance was now or never. My Meridian rod, wind and luck somehow placed the fly a few feet in front of him. After a couple delicate strips he turned for my fly, took it, and then put my Cheeky reel to the test! It was such a fun fight!  Another reason it was so special? – Simply that I was in the Bahamas!

Bobby Nagy – Big Striped Bass from his Hobie Kayak

The most memorable catch I can recall this season was an experience happened mid-summer in the middle of the night on my Hobie Revolution 13 kayak. I was getting towed around in a large rip by a big bass out in deep water, when my reel handle suddenly fell off the conventional reel I was using at the time. I ended up taking waves from the side and had to straddle my kayak for balance while I searched for the Allen screw and reel handle. Eventually I succeeded in tightening the reel handle back onto my reel just enough to get leverage and begin reeling the fish in. After a long and wild struggle I had a solid fish at kayak side, revived it and took a quick photo/measurement and sent her back into the dark. Smiling about the exciting and adrenaline filled experience I just had during the darkest hour of the day.

Michael Trifiletti – Personal Best Steelhead

My best catch of 2016 was caught on Easter. Me and my buddy Mike Krueger were float fishing jigs in the Niagara River from my 17-ft Alumacraft. Water in the river was running much higher then usual, so we were only managed to pick a few fish off in the tough conditions. Mike just broke off on a snag so we decided to get off spot lock and drift our way out. He was retying so I decided to fish while we drifted down river.

Sure enough I hook up, I look at Mike and tell him feels like a Larry aka Lake Trout (Lake Trout feel like you’re pulling in a log, they lay on the bottom and just keep digging). But I also say I’m gonna take it easy just in case it’s a big Steelhead. Just as those words leave my mouth the fight changes, the fish rushes up through the water column and jumps 3-ft out of the water. Immediately I yell STEELHEAD!!!!

I completely lose my composure I’m like kid in a candy shop freaking out. Mike stops tieing up and grabs the net he understands the seriousness of the situation. Big Steelhead = serious business. The fish rips 100-ft down river, big head shakes everything you want in a fight.

Here’s where the shenanigans begins, we start drifting towards the shoreline so I have the rod in one hand and the I-pilot remote in the other so I’m unable to reel any line at this point it’s either gain on the fish or crash my boat into the rocks. So I manage to using the trolling motor and push us back into the main drift, while I was doing that the fish decided to run back up river another 100 ft.

What happened next is a fisherman’s nightmare, when the fish did his u-turn back up river he wrapped my line around my prop and Mikes rod. At this point in my head I’m like there’s no way I’m gonna land this beast, Mike pulled a David Copperfield and magically untangled the line from the prop and rod, while I continued to play the fish. I finally gained on the fish I look at Mike and tell him I’m gonna lift the fish up be ready to net, I pull the fishes head up the jig popped out of the fishes mouth just as he went into the net. I could not believe we landed that fish team effort and truly an epic fishing moment I won’t forget.

Cody Rubner – Tournament Placing, and Lunker Prize winning Largemouth Bass

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my 2 year career of fishing bass tournaments. As with all growth in life, the lows are what the make the highs that much sweeter. This past October, the University of Maine Fishing Club hosted it’s final fundraiser open for the season. My very talented teammate at UMaine, Brian Volkernick, (@BMVfishin) and I chose to compete in this tournament bout against 17 other duos of established fishermen across the state of Maine.

I started off the morning getting a nice fish in the live well to kickstart the momentum, before the team dynamic seemed to shift to Brian having the hot hand. After completing our 5 fish limit cooperatively, the tournament was winding down. We were content with what we had at the time: 20 minutes left in the tournament, and we had a limit of fish that (while we knew it would not be contending for a 1st place finish) would not embarrass ourselves at weigh in.

We decided to hit one of our hotspots for one more drift before heading in, and with one of my last casts of the day I stuck the most memorable fish of my 2016 season – a 4.58 largemouth that would not only slide us into 2nd on the leaderboard, but also was my first time receiving the Lunker* prize! I will definitely always remember weighing in our 16lb 02z bag on a day when fishing was far from easy across the board.
(*The biggest bass caught during the tournament)

 

Alicia Rossman – WAHOO!

My best catch of 2016 was while I was in Saint John. I love fishing in new locations and I try to fish while I’m on vacation when I can. My fiance Rik and I were hoping for Mahi Mahi. Our plan was to to bring home our catch to our gracious friends for hosting us for the week. I’m typically a catch and release gal, but this time I was fishin’ on a mission. We had caught a couple cool new species. One of the big catches was right by the boat when the line snapped – there swam away our dinner. The next big one on the line literally spooled us within seconds it felt like. I’ve never been spooled, so that was a first. We were pretty bummed. I’d like to imagine it was a Tuna. But only the fish gods will ever know.
The captain was about ready to give up and so were we. We fished long and hard to get just one take home fish. The sun was setting and the captain said one more cast. Then, whack – fish on! Screaming line and lots of anxious feelings to get this one on the boat asap. Rik and I swapped the rod back and forth. It was the biggest fish I’ve ever had on the end of my line. My arms were getting tired- the fish was so strong. After a long fight we could see It was a Wahoo! The fish made it on the boat thank god and we didn’t get home till dark. The captain worked hard that day. We were exhausted but so excited to have caught such a beautiful fish.
The fish was about as tall as me and Rik had to hold it because I wasn’t able to. That was my most memorable fish of 2016 and the biggest fish I’ve ever caught to date.
Max Dispoto – Personal Best 29-inch Fluke
29 inchces, 12 pounds – caught at Block Island on a Spro Bucktail

 

One of Max’s many Huge Striped Bass caught at Block Island this summer.
Gabe Dispoto – Big Bass (Largemouth & Striped)
Big Bass caught by the Dispoto Bros at Block Island
Big New England Largemouth out of Northwestern CT. That pre-spawn dock skipping bite is amazing up here, and these fish eat 7 inch paddle tail swim baits.
Will Beringer – First Albie & First Redfish, both from his Hobie Kayak
The first biggest catch of 2016 for me was my first bull Redfish from a kayak.  After moving to North Carolina from Massachusetts I had made it a goal of mine to get out on the yak on the weekend and catch a Carolina Bull Red.  The 2.5 Hour trip to Oak Island made it even more of an incentive for me to catch one because the drive home would be a depressing one if I got skunked.
I met up early morning with some other kayak fisherman that frequently fish the area and got the run down of how they usually fish for these reds off the beach.  To sum it up it all came down to LIVE BAIT. Which usually isn’t hard to come by because there is lots of it right at the shore break but this day it was particularly hard to snag or even cast net for bait because the water had gotten stirred up from Hurricane Matthew the previous couple weeks before and scattered the schools.
I spent the first few hours of the day making numerous casts with a snag rig and getting the technique down but had little success.  The Redfish were definitely there and tight to the beach because the veteran kayak guys that were finding bait would almost immediately catch after snagging and putting their Menhaden on the Carolina rig.  As I struggled to snag a few Menhaden I changed up my rig and put a heavier jig on the end to cast a little farther and sink the rig a little deeper.  Shortly after I ended up catching a snapper Bluefish which I was debating on either chunking or keeping whole to fish for king mackerel along the beach even though it was a little early in the season.  Either way I felt like there was slim odds of catching until one of the guys had told me to chunk it and that reds will pretty much eat anything.
I cut the blue into several pieces and put it out on a Carolina rig. Shortly after something had picked up my bait and made a decent run away from my yak.  I let the fish take my line and the circle hook set and soon fought it for a couple minutes.  As I saw that goldish red color come to the surface and get closer to the yak I was relieved to know I had finally caught my first healthy Redfish at 38” with a nice gut probably from binging on bunker.  I was glad to have fished the Bluefish chunk as a last ditch effort and have it pay off in the end. After this fish I had caught another on a live Pogy which gave an even better fight, but was a little bit smaller.  Patience paid off big time on that day and was a memorable one.
My second biggest catch of 2016 was my first False Albacore ever caught.  I had fished for Albies before from a boat before, but always came up unsuccessful.  I can easily say fishing for False Albacore has been one of the most frustrating species I have targeted.  Their ability to be finicky matched with their speed makes them difficult to catch from a boat let alone a kayak.  This all came together very late in the day with numerous shots at several albacore that could have jumped in my kayak.
The conditions were perfect slick, calm conditions with very little wind and an immeasurable amount of schools cruising 30 yards from the beach all the way to a mile out.  Many of us were fishing for reds at first and then focused on king fish out further later in the day so a lot of guys ignored fishing for Albies which put very little pressure on them.  This may be the reason they stuck around for so long as well as the large amount of small baitfish in the area.
I tied on a Hogy epoxy jig on one of my lighter rods and gave it a shot. These fish would move incredibly fast and pop up randomly and disappear then come up 50-100 yards away but there were so many separate schools I figured my chances would be pretty good at catching.  I decided to chase a school down and try to get ahead of them to put my jig right in front of their path.  I got quite a few decent chances of them coming up right in front of my kayak and would stay up for a minute or two, but I could not capitalize on the first few chances.  I began to worry this would be the same old scenario of me not being able to get one to eat, but I kept at it with cast after cast.  I eventually had to take a rest after almost being in a full out sprint along the beach in my kayak.  I finally caught up with another kayak fisherman that had some success earlier.
I knew I had the right lure but my technique was a little off.  He was kind enough to offer me advice on what he was doing to be successful in catching these speedsters.  I finally got my legs back and fished for reds for a little and decided to try for an Albie again.  The day was winding down so I had to make it count this time around.  On the way out a school was pushing bait to the surface a couple yards behind me and seemed to be staying on top for a bit. I quickly turned around and got close enough to make a cast ahead of them.  I let the jig sink then put the heat on and cranked it quickly through the school.  I felt my jig get hit then pause then hit again and my line went tight and I set the hook.
I finally hooked into a nice size Albie that took off on a couple drag burning runs.  I finally got it to the yak and grabbed it quickly out of the water.  I was pumped I got this fish after many attempts and got a good picture and great footage to top it off!
 Brian Malchoff – Personal Best 48-inch Striped Bass
This fish was caught while fishing with my good friend Keith Lee in Long Island Sound during a week night in the fall.  It was a tough night with 4-foot rollers, and this fish was the only fish caught of the night.  Immediately after catching this fish I got sea sick and we headed in. But it was worth it!!
Tom Robbins (@FishAtlas) – Big Massachusetts Brown Trout
 
2016 was a year filled with new catches for me. Tarpon in Florida. Washington Cutthroat Trout.  Tennessee Smallmouth Bass. But it was this local Massachusetts Brown Trout that stole my heart. Caught on an elk hair caddis emerger in a fast-moving run and good friends with which to share the experience… What fishing is all about. Cheers to more fishing fun in 2017!
Anthony Powell – Boston Harbor Striped Bass
Although not one of my biggest catches of 2016, this Striper was one of the most memorable. Towards the end of the summer there was an incredible Pogy bite in Boston harbor. The schools of bait were amazing  and thanks to Brian Coombs from Get Tight Sportfishing I was able to catch my first snag and drop Striper. Even better is I got to see the fish swim away strong and healthy.

 

Andrew Richardson – Big Topwater Striped Bass

​This fat 41-inch Striper takes my “Best Catch of 2016”. I rank this fat top water bass as my number one catch of the year for a few reasons. Number one, it contributed to my win of Why Knot Fishing’s first Annual Summer Striper Showcase tournament hosted at the Swampscott Yacht Club this past June. With this fish and another 40-inch bass, I clinched my win with a combined total of 81inches.

Reason number two, I caught this beautiful bass on a topwater plug (a 247 Mully in Limited Edition Green mackerel to be exact) off of Gloucester, MA. If anyone knows anything about fishing Gloucester and the Cape Anne area, you know fishing plugs is not a typical thing. Just about all anglers there fish live Mackerel and Pogies. The catch even came to a surprise to my fishing buddy Anthony Powell and I as all the other big fish that day came off of live Mackerel.

We were fishing the livies, when all of a sudden, BOOM, big bass started busting big horse Mackerel at the surface! It was a sight to see! First thing I did is grab my plug rod, clip the 247 Mully on the Tactical Angler clip, and cast it out in the craziness. Within a few twitches of the rod my rod loaded up and I was on with this beauty! This strong bass gave one hell of a fight as we were fishing in over 100 ft of water. When we landed the bass, Gloucester’s top Striper fisherman just gave us a bizzare look, “like did they really just catch that on a plug?”

It was a day that never will be forgotten by either of us, winning a tournament that’s hosted in your home town is an amazing feeling. And not to mention with two beautiful Striped Bass!

 

Patrick Barone, Early Rise Outfitters – 1st Landlocked Salmon

My 2016 top catch was my first mature Landlocked Salmon. I was lucky enough to have time to go up to the Northeast Kingdom of VT for a WKF event. While there, Tim of Rippled Waters shared a bunch of Salmon know-how, and I was eager to put it to use. What a great fight, and beautiful hen Salmon as a reward for lots of hiking and fishing in the rain.

 

Anthony Lombardo, Early Rise Outfitters – 27-inch Sea Robin on the Fly

Not everyday you see a Sea Robin this big!!

 

Taylor Feuti – Personal Best Striped Bass from the surf

Processed with Snapseed.

This fish came on the last hours of the tide on my final night of the fall run. After catching some mid 20-inch fish and a hefty mid 30-incher I was weathering rain and heavy surf when my line went tight. The fish at first felt like most of the other, but after ten minutes of back and forth I realized she would be the biggest of the night. I got her into the waves and got the light on her and saw just how big she was! she tapped out at 42.5″ and had an estimated weight of 27 lbs. My biggest fish of the year, biggest from the surf, and biggest in my new home state!

Ben Whitehead – Huge West Coast Steelhead

My most memorable catch of the last year was one that I watched, although I did land a remarkable Pacific steelhead that swam an ungodly amount of miles to eat my fly, watching my friend Matt land a wild Pacific Steelhead after he had been in a Steely drought for the last three years was definitely icing on the cake. To be able to witness that was better than being able to land my own……by a little….

But that’s what it’s all about!
Jeff Lomonaco – Three Memorable Catches (Striper, Albie & Steelhead)
The Bass wasn’t the largest of the year, but it was pretty memorable because it was an epic daytime topwater bite which you have to really appreciate when you mostly fish at night. The Albie was one of many on the fly from the rocks this year, and came on an pink/white surf candy that I tied. This day stood out because of how fun it was fishing for them in a rain storm. For me, every Steelhead I catch is something I consider a prize, and this one was caught on a black Stonefly nymph that I tied. When you fish an entire days on a river for maybe a few takes, they become something that you truly appreciate and will remember forever.

Sean Caron – Back-to-Back Big Swimbait Largemouth Bass

It was a day on my favorite lake to test out a brand new swimbait I had created. The original Go2 Flatty was a shallow water crank down, designed to bounce off rocks and timber similar to the way a crankbait will. After 5 hours of bouncing it off every piece of structure I could find, I managed to put two FAT four-pounders in the kayak in a matter of about 10 minutes! That day from 2016 stands out to me because I knew I had created something that really truly works.

Tom Mcintosh – New Hampshire Back Country Largemouth Bass

This nice bass was caught on a Golden Trout Phat Pats 4-Piece that Sean had just given me. I was fishing structure and points during pre-spawn, and was pumped to land this great lookin fish!

 

 

Kyle Gordon – 1st Tiger Trout in Utah

2016 was a good year to me. With multiple personal bests including Musky, Brown Trout, Largemouth, Striper, and Steelhead! However I have to say the most memorable catch of 2016 is going to be this Tiger Trout. Not for its size but because It is a species I have always wanted to chase, and this fall I had the chance in southern Utah. Everything worked out and this fish made it to the net!

Shawn Barham – 46-inch, 35 pound Striped Bass

This is one that I will never forget! Not only is this an impressive fish but I caught it on very light tackle while I was playing around with some schoolies on top while on my way out to tog fish. The schoolies were going nuts everywhere and I was having a blast with a Rapala Skitter walk catching mid 20-inch fish every cast. Well on the last cast  I saw a wake coming up behind my plug and I knew it was a better fish, but I was surprised it was THIS good. Funny thing is I was fishing with my light Albie rod with only 10 lb braid and a 15 lb fluoro leader.

Joe Diorio – Big Redfish in CONNECTICUT!

2016 was an absolute epic year for me. Out of all the big fish that I caught this year a fish officially just under 20 lbs was my fish of the year and a catch of a lifetime.

Living here in Connecticut we never see any Red Drum caught in the Long Island Sound but somehow I was lucky enough to catch one. I was Striper fishing and thought I had a cow Striper on. When my fish came to the surface, I was in utter shock. I got a flippin Redfish on!

Now if you ask anyone who fishes with me I never have a net on my boat since I lip all of my Stripers and it mostly just gets in the way. Well luckily my dad went Fluke fishing the day before and happened to leave the net on board. Man did I need it! Red fish have monster teeth and  I was only fishing 30lb test line. I went to the top of the boat, grabbed the net and luckily was able to swing her right into the net.

She was 38+ inches long and when I caught her probably close to 25lbs. I ended up fishing the night shift hoping for the monster bass as well. After a night of fishing I wasn’t able to weigh her till 7 am the following morning when the bait shop opened. She officially weighted 19.20lbs and now a State Record for Connecticut! 2016 was an amazing year! I set the bar pretty high for myself for 2017, but looking forward to it! Also looking forward to fishing with any of you next year! Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year with many bent rods! Baaabooom!!!

Will (DaBeast) Rigo – Big Ohio Brown Trout

This is definitely one of my most memorable fish from the fall of 2016. I venture up to Western New York each year in search of Salmon, Steelhead, and of course… big beautiful Lake Ontario Brown Trout. The main trip this fall started out a bit slow due to the exceptionally hot and dry summer. We struggled the first few days on low clear water, and low numbers of fish. We than caught a break, a storm came in dropping 4 inches of nonstop rain over a few days time. The bite was on! And made this one of my most successful trips to Western New York to date!

We brought a lot of Browns to the bank that week… this one in particular being one of the largest and most beautiful. This fish took a 1 egg single salmon egg tied in white mesh under an 8 mill. UV chartreuse Steelie bead. Shot the float down like a rocket and took me for a 10 minute ride up and down the creek. Got him to the bank snapped a few shots, and let him free to continue his mission to spawn. and for another angler to enjoy in the future.

It’s been an incredible year! And again an honor to be a member of this team of world class anglers, who are dedicated, devoted, and so passionate about the sport of fishing and there community’s. I cant imagine what 2017 has in store! But I can’t see it being anything short of spectacular! Thank you for reading! Happy New Year and tight lines!

Chris Santos – Personal Best Smallmouth

This is my top catch in freshwater from 2016 and is memorable because it was first year fishing this river, my biggest Smallmouth, was caught on topwater and made me fall in love with catching them.  Plus my wife took the picture!

Dean Legg – Personal Best Redfish, caught from the surf

Had a blast catching fall S.C. Reds from the beach. Fresh fingerling mullet, fish finder rigs, and a falling tide all contributed to this beast of a bull red. Its always great when a trip works out exactly the way you envisioned it. Looking forward to doing it again in 2017.

 

Robb Vossler – Big Topwater Bluefish

Law school and my summer job kept me from getting out on the water as much as I would have liked for most of this year. However, I took every opportunity I could to get out on the boat out in October and November for the fall run.  I had some unbelievable days with family and friends.  Almost every time out we were landing 100 or more stripers. One of our last days, we found schools of bunker getting harassed at the mouth of a harbor in Western Long Island Sound.  I tied on a 247 Bone Mully and hucked it towards a rocky point the Bunker were being herded into.  After a few hard twitches the plug disappeared and braid started screaming off my Van Staal.  Not sure if it topped my personal best all tackle bluefish, but by far the biggest blue I’ve taken on a topwater plug.  Looking forward to more adrenaline rushes in 2017!

Arthur Champagne, Angler Management Charters – Tournament Winning Wahoo

What a day we had on the water for the 3rd annual Chase N’ Tailz KDW (Kingfish, Dolphin, Wahoo) tournament this past September.  We started the day high speed trolling for Wahoo, but only caught a Sailfish doing that, so after that we decided to switch our target to big Kingfish while using live bait. We caught five decent Kings, a couple more Sailfish, lost a few other Sails and caught a big Blackfin Tuna pushing 30 lbs. Unfortunately there was not a Tuna category in this tourney,.

As the day came to a close with only about 30 mins until lines out we put in our last live bait of the day which was a re hooked goggle eye. We put it on our down rod in a last hopeful effort for a big smoker Kingfish, after a couple mins the rod doubled over and we were on with a large fish! As the fish came closer to the boat we could tell it was very big, but not a King. It had stripes and was all lit up, it was our Wahoo!

First mate Dalton Lew gaffed the fish and got it over the rail and our whole team went nuts! We knew we had the winning Wahoo! We hauled in to the weigh in celebrating the whole way there! The fish went 48.7 lbs on the official scale.   It was an incredible day on the water that none of us will soon forget. We went 3/6 on Sailfish,  5 nice Kings a 30 lb Blackfin Tuna and the winning Wahoo! What a day!!

 

Peyton Horst – Tournament Placing Personal Best Striped Bass on the Fly & First Steelhead on the Fly

These were my two best catches of the year. The Striper was my PB on the fly (he took a yellow over white clouser) as well as my tournament fish that got me second place in the Fly – Shore Division of the 2nd Annual Fall Run Striper Classic. The Steelhead, well…. anyone who fishes knows how much of a challenge they are. He hit a white egg pattern with a red blood dot. This fish was my first fly caught Steelie, and was caught first cast!

Matt Zimmermann – Personal Best Striped Bass on the Fly

Favorite Catch of 2016 – It’s so hard to say. From Roosterfish and Bluefin Trevally in Costa Rica, to a 20lb Atlantic Salmon in Scotland, to landing a 100lb wahoo in the New England Canyons. Not to mention my best Striper year ever with a 40+lb Striper on the Kayak, and a 47″ Striped Bass on Topwater. 2016 was a great year full of fishy adventures.

But my favorite has to be my 41.5” Striped Bass on the fly with my good friend Griffin Dunn. For the last few years I’ve dreamed of, and put in so much time to catch a 40”+ fish on the fly, and finally it happened! Not to mention, it also helped me clinch first place in the Capefish Cup, which is a season long contest of some of the best fly anglers competing to land  the longest Striper on a fly rod North of Boston to the Merrimack River.

 

Joe Gugino – 

It is hard to say which is my most memorable catch from 2016.  I had some awesome topwater action on Striped Bass and Bluefish, I had the opportunity to fish offshore in Florida for the first time with my buddy Arthur Champagne of Angler Management Charters and catch a huge False Albacore on the fly, and I had some great fishing in Upstate New York for some big ole Lake Trout and Steelhead.

I would have to say that my most memorable catch of the year was actually my wife’s catch!  She has been a trooper these past few years as I have become obsessed with fishing, and has put up with early morning and late nights and trips all over.  But this was the first year I was able to get her to come out fishing with me!  These pictures are from one of the first trips of the year out with our good friends Mike and Ashley in Boston Harbor, and we weren’t expecting to catch anything.  While we were out there we all caught fish, and it was awesome watching Christina catch and reel in her first Striper.

She liked it so much she even came out for a couple other trips during the season, and I am looking forward to fishing with her again next year! … Plus, she will always be my best catch!

Fishing rules! (And so does my wife 🙂 )

Christina’s first Striper on an Al Gag’s Whip-It Fish!

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