Somehow, with the support of my sisters and the guidance of the captains, the fish slashed and flailed beside the boat. Scott leaned over and with a big net, dumped the whale—I mean the striped bass—into the boat’s cockpit. I collapsed into my crews’ happy arms.

Catching the Big One

“THAT is a big fish,” said Scott. “It is?” I said, having absolutely no frame of reference for the size of a catch. And after careful weighing, Scott said,” I don’t know, but that just might be a winner. Definitely one of the top three of the day.”

I begin to feel a warm glow in my heart, somewhere between shaking shoulders. The ladies cheered. We all high-fived, and then kept on fishing for six more hours, in search of maybe even a bigger bass and the biggest blue. Trying to best 18 boats with nearly 70 ladies trolling.

Soon the sun came out. I peeled off my pink slicker and lolled in the sun. Cheered crewmate Suzie Glover’s big 15-pound blue. Shook my head in amazement over Missy, Donna, and Robin, who must have reeled in at least 30 blues and several good-sized bass.

Catching the Big One

Finally at high noon, we headed triumphantly back to Crosby Yacht Yard, boosted by Scott’s claim that we might, just might, win it all. At the weighing station on the dock, a small crowd gathered. Other captains and crews strained to see what lay in wait in Scott’s big cooler. I knew my bass was on the very bottom.

We had some tough competition. One boat landed a whopping 26-pound bass. “Wow,” I said to the fisherwoman, who towered over me at nearly six feet. “THAT’s a big fish.” My heart sank, sure that we had lost the day. “Don’t worry,” said Captain Scott, quietly. “I still think you’ve got her beat.”

Catching the Big One

And then it was the moment of truth. I hauled my fish out of the cooler with both arms. Put him on the scale. Held my breath, my teammates and our captains huddled close. “Weigh it one more time,” said the helpers. I lugged him up and put him back on the scale.

“27.75 pounds!” said the woman at the scale. We all cheered, danced a few jigs. Hugged each other, not minding the fact that we were covered in fish blood and guts. Cheered some more. Had our pictures taken for posterity.

So that’s my fish story. And yes—it’s true—my fish was the biggest fish and the striped bass winner of the day, and our crewmate Suzie Glover caught the biggest blue. We were triumphant. I called my husband, my kids, my incredulous mother.

Later that day at the Osterville Anglers Club awards ceremony, some longtime anglers congratulated me. One said, “You know, there are members of this club who have waited their whole lives to catch a fish like that.”

My husband and I headed home, happy to share 28 pounds of fresh bass with family, friends, and co-workers. And of course, I have told my fish story to hundreds since then. It never gets old.

In a few weeks, on July 28th, the Ladies Shoal Troll will be held again. Our crew have rallied together and will be heading out again with Captains Scott and Dick on the First Nichol. I am sure that Lady Luck will not strike for us twice. But you never know.

Catching the Big One

After all, there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Susan Dewey is the editor of Cape Cod Life. She is currently trying to build up her “core” at the suggestion of her captain for this year’s Ladies Shoal Troll.

For information on this year’s Ladies Shoal Troll, go to This year, Crosby Yacht Yard Inc, which owns the marina where the Osterville Anglers Club is located, is a major sponsor. All proceeds for the event will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,”

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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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