SALISBURY — When Bob Roy Sr. hooked onto a large striped bass last August, he had a feeling he might have landed one of local legend. But little did he know that six months later, he would be awarded the top striped bass prize from the state.
Last weekend, Roy and his wife were presented with an award from the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries for his 54-pound, 10-ounce striper caught just outside the mouth of the Merrimack River.
Roy was one of dozens of anglers who were handed awards at the Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Expo in Worcester as part of the Massachusetts Saltwater Derby. Also taking home a prize that evening was Chris Herndon of Newburyport, who won the striped bass derby for juniors. Herndon caught a 35-pound, 3-ounce striper near Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore. The largest striper ever caught in Massachusetts waters is 73 pounds.
The Massachusetts Saltwater Derby takes place each year from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 and is open to all anglers free of charge. Entries must be caught by hook and line and weighed at a state-certified station. All entries will receive a derby pin and at the end of the derby year, trophies are awarded to anglers who landed the heaviest fish in each species category. Winners are chosen in three divisions — men, women and juniors (age 15 and younger).
Soon after landing his striper. Roy took it to Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island Turnpike, where it was weighed. Upon verification that it weighed more than 50 pounds, Roy’s photo was taken and placed on the store’s big fish board.
Last August, Martha Moulton, daughter of longtime owner Kay Moulton from Surfland Bait and Tackle, called the striper the biggest the iconic business has seen in years.
When interviewed about his catch, Roy, 54, said he was drifting on his fishing boat just outside the busy river mouth with live mackerel as bait when the monster fish grabbed ahold of his hook.
“I knew it was big, but I’ve caught fish before,” Roy said, back in August.
Roy, a longtime Salisbury resident originally from Amesbury, called live mackerel the best bait, as they are still swimming while hooked and reflect light off their scales, giving stripers the illusion they are not attached to a fisherman’s pole.
With striper season not beginning again until May, Roy still has months to go before he can dip his boat back into the water and try breaking his already impressive record.
“I’m looking at my boat in the backyard all covered up. Usually about March you get the itch to go,” Roy said yesterday.