Seniors Speak Out

Epic Tale: Reeling in the Big One

You may not know bait from tackle, but everyone loves a good fishing story.  Howard Schwartz, family member of Barclay Friends Continuing Care Community, shares the epic tale of his big catch below.


Howard Schwartz

The year was 1959—Howard was in his thirties and still hadn’t caught the big fish he’d been hoping for.  “I lived in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, New York and I had never caught anything bigger than a ten pound fish.”  On vacation from the Burroughs Corporation, renamed Unisys in the mid-eighties, he and his wife Sonia drove along the coast of New England looking for a place to go fishing.  “We stopped in Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, Maine, but couldn’t find a place to go fishing for the big fish.”

Their last stop was in Bar Harbor, Maine.  “We took the Bluenose Ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia—it was a four-hour trip and on the way over, I picked up a magazine and it had this picture of a gigantic tuna on the cover, and it was taken in Wedgeport, a fishing village in Yarmouth, so I said, ‘Come on, let’s go to Wedgeport and see if we can get a boat.’  In Wedgeport, I met a sixty-five-year-old man and we agreed to share the cost of renting a boat for the day—the boat cost twenty-five dollars apiece.”

Fishing Line

Their next stop was Soldier’s Rip, where the fishing grounds were.  “First, we stopped to pick up bait—small herrings about three to four inches long—and [continued on] to Soldier’s Rip in the Bay of Fundy.  We agreed that we would each take turns on the line the captain had going off the back of the boat—[my partner] got the first half hour and I got the next half hour.”  But how does one go fishing?  “You start by tossing the bait into the water off the back of the boat—within about twenty minutes we got a strike, but [neither of us] could handle the fishing line for more than ten or twenty minutes at a time [because the fish was so strong].  We took turns and it took about two and a half hours to bring him in—550 pounds.  I was very unhappy because I came all the way out here to catch a big fish, and [my partner] was the one who got credit for the first fish.”

The big catch!

But Howard’s big break was yet to come.  “Around one o’clock I got a strike, and that was my fish—I wouldn’t let anybody take the line.  We spent three and a half hours playing the fish—every time you reeled him in and he got within twenty feet of the boat, he took off and we chased him, otherwise he would have broken the line.  Well, after all this back and forth, we ended up fifteen miles from where we started.  We were so close to shore the fish couldn’t sound, dive deep, so he had to work hard and he finally gave up.  He was too heavy to pull into the boat—he was a 745-pound tuna—so we got a couple of fishermen from another boat to help us pull him in.”

“We had been out on the water for four or five hours at this point and by the time we got back the whole town was waiting for us—they knew we were gone so long that we must have caught a couple of fish.  I won twenty-five dollars from Field & Stream Magazine,” Howard adds.  “In today’s market my tuna would be worth a lot of money.”