Ryan Chatham doesn’t dance much, but catching a fish referred to as a “monster” by others made him do a jig.
On Nov. 18, Edwin Tate and Chatham were set to go home with one fish after eight hours on the Potomac River. Instead they caught a rockfish weighing 56-pounds, nine ounces and measuring 50-inches.
According to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the fish is the 11th heaviest striper bass collected in 2012.
The day had started with the two planning to enter the Maryland Saltwater Sport Fishing Tournament. But after discovering the entrance fee, they decided to go out on their own for the day.
Less than an hour later, they felt a pull on the fishing line.
A strong pull.
The first sign of the fish’s size came when the reel was rapidly unwound.
“Yeah, I felt the movement. It was on then,” said Chatham.
The two struggled with reeling in the line as the fish continued to challenge them.
“When I pulled the first lure over and that fish got a look at that boat, it went right back down in the water and with all that weight in, stuck me on my tail,” said Tate. “The fish was so heavy I couldn’t lift it over the boat and I needed help. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Tate says if the pair had entered the Tournament, the fish would have earned them $63,000.
“We still couldn’t believe it, but he danced,” Tate said referring to Chatham. “So much time had flown by, we were just in shock.”
They had to fold it to fit it in their cooler.
The two were aboard a boat used in Chatham’s chartering business. It has received a lot of attention and business following their catch.
“I had people from Northern Virginia calling me about this big fish,” Chatham said. “I don’t know how the heck [the news] got that far.”
Some referred to the “monster fish,” a term also used on the Potomac River Anglers Club online message board. A week after the catch, Tate said the Potomac looked like a parking lot in the area they caught the “monster fish.”
Lewis Gillingham of the Virginia Marine Resource Commission’s Saltwater Tournament says the two join the state’s record of 74 pounds caught in Virginia Beach.
“Fifty-six pounds in the Potomac River is a nice size fish,” said Gillingham. “Guys shouldn’t feel slighted. Anytime you break 50 pounds, it’s a great catch.”
The two said they plan to continue fishing until the end of the year and will consider continuing in Virginia Beach. They thanked Petey’s Tackle and Tom Collins of Northern Neck Chevrolet for sponsoring them.
“We fish with rigs and jigs from Montross-based Petey’s Tackle,” Tate said. “His products have been catching big fish and tournament leader board fish for years. Many of the big name anglers have had success with his stuff on the [Potomac] river and the [Chesapeake] Bay.”
A week before hooking the “monster” fish, their last catch was in the Colonial Beach Rockfish Tournament and weighed 17 pounds, measuring 32 inches.