This post has two purposes; the main one is to highlight Mike Taylor’s amazing catch, and the second is to introduce Mike as our newest TeamWhyKnot Captain.
This past fall I started to follow Mike’s fishing after some encouragement from fellow TeamWhyKnot Captain Patrick Barone of Early Rise Outfitters told me that Mike would be a great fit for the team. Mike was crushing it from shore, on the fly with multi species including some impressive Stripers. I saw Mike had caught his Personal Best Striper a couple weeks before, a solid mid 30-inch fish, and was looking for the right chance to reach out to him.
And then I saw him catch “Nessie” as he affectionately refers to his catch, and I reached out and gave him some congratulations, and a little after that asked if he wanted to join the team. Mike was more than willing, and we are pumped to have him on board!
I hope you will join me in welcoming Mike to the team as well as congratulating him on this impressive catch!!
A quick little back story, before the REEL story…
When I was little I caught my 1st Striper in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. I was 11 or 12, and I could barely cast even a spinning rod as I had just got into fishing. But I knew to throw far and reel. And although I don’t have a picture of the Schoolie I caught, this is the set-up I used.
Rod (unknown), D.A.M. Quick 220 N reel, and I believe the exact original Rebel Floating Minnow that I caught my first Striper on.
I still remember to this day, being in front of the hotel we stayed at. I ran to the room, screaming for my parents to come out, “I got one! I got one!”
They took a quick picture, and I still remember to this day reviving that small Schoolie and watching it swim away healthy. My youth was full of Schoolies, and a few keepers, and although I never made it to the canal at that time I was in my happy place catching fish from the beach.
Now that I’m older and live farther away from the Cape in Western Massachusetts I have fallen in love with Fly Fishing.
In fact, fly fishing has changed my life.
It has taught me to be patient, to observe my surrounding and has proven to me that matching patterns matters, and it leads to big fish! And fly fishing will put a lifetime of memories on your doorstep.
And now… for the Big Fish Story!
It was a cold Halloween night, and the fog was starting to set in. I was heading to the river with my 9 weight fly rod, 20 pound mono leader and intermediate sinking line. I also was packed with a couple of Halloween themed flies I tied before I left my home. Halloween marks the anniversary of my father’s passing, so just before I left home I decided to write his initials on the bottom of a fly and to keep fishing this one fly the whole night. I dubbed the name of the fly the “Halloween Herring“.
I met up with my friend Max and we were slinging around flies for a while with nothing much going on. We were wondering if we should change spots, or wait for the fish to move through. But we decided to stick at the same spot, and I stuck with my special fly in honor of my dad. I knew it had to work!
Than at 10:59p.m. I felt the thump in the night that I will never forget…
I felt the hit, but I had no idea that it was an actual beast that I had hooked.
I turned my GoPro on and of course the battery died and I couldn’t change it at the time. I yelled to Max for the time and to please remember it. As the fish screammmmed into backing, I walked carefully towards the shore, and said to “Max I think I may have to chase this fish.”
He laughed, and I said “No I’m serious”And in my head I was hoping I hadn’t hooked a beaver. Haha! And than I said “Max I gotta go!!!”
And off I went. Estimated about a quarter mile down stream, despite the fact that I had a lot of backing on the reel! I made my way to a shallow flat where I thought I could safely land the fish. I guided the fish off to the right held the rod as high as I could, and it didn’t want to come in yet, so I let the fish scream off and to the left and freedom. At this point the fish was tiring and I put some pressure on the fish, pointed it towards the bank, and used every bit of angling knowledge and skill I have learned to this very day to bring the beast safely within netting distance.
When I saw it for the first time, I couldn’t believe it! A true river monster! Nessie! A true trophy, a try fish of a lifetime… and on a fly rod!
I saw Max walking towards me, and I said, “Max please run over here, and try not to freak out when you see the size of the fish,” as I knew the net was a tad small for this huge fish! Luckily Max was on his game, and his first swipe of the undersized net and a swing up, and he got her.
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN COMING IN AT 49 INCHES MY PERSONAL BEST STRIPED BASS!
This fish came up a bit short of the IGFA record of 51.5″ for 20lb tippet, but is a fly rod fish of a lifetime for me! (The scale I had weighed the fish in at 35 Pounds and 13 Ounces, but some people have told me it may have been over 40 pounds. Regardless, it was a catch of a lifetime, and it swam away safely so that’s what’s important.)
Will I ever got one bigger? Maybe, but will I remember this day forever. This 24 minute fight. This moment in time.
And as always the beast is still safely swimming back in her home.
— Mike Taylor