THE MAN IN THE SILVER SUIT
By Captain Jim Durham – Founder StriperFun Fishing Guide Service
There is an old saying that “most legends are based partially upon truth”. I always thought that such a statement was more fable than reality. I no longer do, ever since I saw “the man in the Silver suit”.
In all the years I have been an outdoorsman, spending thousands of hours at night on the water and/or in the woods, I have never seen anything (really) strange like a flying saucer, a Unicorn or Bigfoot, etc.
Sure, weird things have happened.
While Bass fishing one day in my early twenties, I once had a small family size herd of deer appear at the edge of the woods (where the woods met the water) and just stand there and “stare” at me in my Bass boat while I cast and fished. They were perhaps 100 feet a way. They just stood there and watched me out in the water for at least 5 minutes. I then caught the biggest Largemouth Bass of my life (8.5. pounds) out of a rather small and heavily fished public lake. I would have never thought there would be such a huge Bass in this small lake.
It was almost like “magic”.
It was as if the deer “knew” something special was about to happen and wanted to “experience” it. I never quite understood why that happened and will never forget it. It was a “pleasingly” strange moment in time. Probably the strangest I ever experienced, until the day I saw “the man in the Silver suit”.
It was a beautiful “blue sky” day in early spring when it happened. As these types of “high sky” days many times go, the bite was slow. I was fishing large live alewives shad “weightless” on planer boards (with the shad swimming right on the surface where you can see them).
Suddenly, the shad behind the planer board closest to the boat jumped completely out of the water! Sometimes a shad will break the surface when pursued by a big fish, but I had never seen such a “circus” jump by a shad!
Then I saw why! It was “the man in the Silver suit”.
A huge Striped bass that literally looked as big as I am was swimming behind the shad. My heart about jumped out of my chest! Never in all my years had my skin tingled so! Understand clearly that I was trolling slowly about a half a mile an hour and that this huge monster fish just “paced” the shad for 10 to 15 seconds.
I could see him clearly. He looked as long as I am at 6 feet. It was a surreal moment.
The world record Striper ever caught was 78 pounds. The Lake Cumberland / Kentucky record Striper was 58 pounds. This fish looked to be well over 100 pounds! It truly looked like as big as a man in a Silver suit.
The fish then accelerated ever so slightly and simply engulfed the shad. It was as if the shad was accepting its inevitable fate as it just kept swimming and did not even try to evade this time.
I am not sure the big fish at first even knew it was hooked. It just slowly began to swim a way and “lightly” squall the clicker on the drag. Most Stripers, when feeling the pressure of the fishing line and drag, will “sound” deeply and quickly. The tug of the line pulling did not even “faze” this giant creature of the deep.
I was mesmerized and just stood there for a few seconds and watched with every hair on my body standing on end.
Now this was no magic trick. This was no fairy tale and this was no dream. This was real and I was not going to just set there and let it happen! I snapped out of it, picked up the rod and tried to reel.
Good luck with that!
Even though I use heavy duty top of the line equipment with 20 pound test line on the reels, I had nothing. I mean nothing. I reeled and the line just kept going out slowly.
It was then that the fish must have realized something was amiss. Perhaps it was my nervous tension running down the line. Who knows?
In (what seemed like) the blink of an eye, with some hard and fast “swishes” of its tail, the monster fish peeled off 1/3 of the line on the reel. At the time, it seemed like it happened all at once, but in reality must have taken at least 10 seconds.
It was “kabam” and then “reeeeeeeeee” and 150 feet of line were gone. It was truly amazing to see the feed on the spool of my reel “shoot back and forth” so quickly (and so many times in such a few seconds). I am surprised it didn’t begin to smoke!
I kept up the pressure reeling and just prayed I had enough line and that the bend of the rod and the drag system on the reel would do their job to “tire out” this huge Godzilla fish. I remember at the time (funny how things pop into your head) that the morning coffee was working on me and I really “had to go”.
All at once, the line went soft with no pressure. Those of you that have ever “truly” battled a world class fish know what had happened. If the fish had broken off the line there would have been a quick “snap”.
Oh no. It had not broken off; it had turned around and was running at me at full speed!
I reeled as fast as I could to try to keep up the (very) obvious “slack” in the line and I was successful in finally reacquiring a “tight line” just as the old Striper swam up right under the surface 15 foot from where I was standing.
Time seemed to stand still. It was like the deer standing there watching me all those years before.
I believed then (and I still believe today) that this magical big Striper (that looked as big as a man) just wanted to have a look at me.
I could almost swear he smiled at me.
He then turned his head, caught the line under his gill plate and with a loud (and heart wrenching) “twang” he was gone to the depths.
Year later, I still awake nights reliving this moment. I know he is still out there. It’s like we are connected somehow. I can “sense” him.
There is an old saying that “most legends are based partially upon truth”. I always thought that such a statement was more fable than reality.
I no longer do, ever since I saw “the man in the Silver suit”.