Big fish story

Posted: May 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

Spencer Byrge, 9, holds the 35-pound, 40-inch striped bass he caught earlier this month at Smith Point Marina in Reedville.

WINCHESTER — When 9-year-old Frederick County resident Spencer Byrge saw what he’d pulled out of Smith Point Marina in Reedville earlier this month, his eyes got real big.

With his grandpa holding his fishing pole, the 52-pound Indian Hollow Elementary School student reeled in a 35-pound, 40-inch striped bass — a feat that took him 30 minutes.

“I thought there were two fish on the line,” Spencer said.

Although his grandfather, Rick Bean, helped him, Spencer was determined to get the fish himself.

When he finally saw his catch, he was stunned.

“I was like, how did I catch this?” he said.

Spencer, Bean and a few others were fishing in the marina on the morning of May 2.

There was a $1 bet among the fishermen about who would catch the biggest fish, and Bean teased his grandson, predicting himself as the winner.

When Bean, 49, reeled in a 28- pound, 36-inch striper, he thought he had been right.

That is, until Spencer felt a tug on his line.

“They forgot about mine,” Bean said.

“He couldn’t talk for a while,” Bean added about his grandson. “He was astounded. He never saw a fish that big come out of a river. I was real proud of him.”

The fish was later filleted and eaten.

Spencer was pleased that among the men onboard, he caught the largest fish.

“I’m the littlest, and I got the biggest and they caught the littlest,” he said.

Charter boat captain Woody Robertson, who was aboard the boat at the time of the big catch, said the average striper caught in the spring is 20 to 25 pounds.

“That is phenomenal,” he said of Spencer’s catch. “It is an accomplishment.”

Robertson said he likes to get young people interested in fishing because he believes it keeps them out of trouble.

“It’s something they’ll never forget,” he said. “I like creating memories.”

— Contact Rebecca Layne at