A whale of a fish tale

Artist and fisherman Kib Bramhall tells us about the one that didn’t get away.

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A wall in Kib Bramhall's fishing room with covers from Salt Water Sportsman magazine, where he worked for 18 years. —Karla Araujo

The recreational fishing season is in full swing off Vineyard waters. There are plenty of posts on Instagram of the Islanders hauling in beloved striped bass, perfect for grilling, sauteing, and broiling.

In an effort to preserve the striped bass stock, we have seen changes in the regulation size for the keepers. 

In May of this year, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries enacted emergency recreational regulations, creating a sweet spot in the size of bass that can be kept. The new maximum length limit for keeping striped bass in Massachusett is now 28 inches to less than 31 inches, and anglers will still be permitted to keep one fish per day. 

Decades ago before these regulations, there were photos and stories of landing the “big one.” 

We asked well-known angler and landscape painter Kib Bramhall to tell us his best “Fish Tale” from the past.

Kib Bramhall tying flies in his fishing room. —Karla Araujo

“My most memorable fish was the 42 lb., 14 oz. striped bass that I caught on the final morning of the Derby in 1981, about a mile west of Cape Poge Light on Chappy. I had started fishing at 5 pm the previous afternoon and — with sporadic naps on my buggy — had fished all night. Several small bass and blues had been caught early, but by 3 am, everyone had left but me. The bass hit about 30 feet from shore at 5:15 and took 20 minutes or so to land. In addition to winning, the catch broke the world record for the 12-pound leader.”