Al McReynolds Is Our Decent Bastard of the Week

Amidst a Nor’easter on September 21, 1982, off the Vermont Avenue jetty in Atlantic City, NJ, Al McReynolds landed a 78 lb 8 oz. striped bass — the largest striper ever caught. For this feat alone, Mr. McReynolds has earned Decent Community’s highest honor — Decent Bastard of the Week.

The fish (53″ long, 34 – 1/2″ girth) reportedly took over four hours to reel in. In his account of landing the big one, however, McReynolds claims, “I didnt catch the devil that night… the devil caught me.”

The fascinating, somewhat sad story of this journeyed east coast fisherman has him living in a motel with his family, allegedly selling the mount of his famed striper to pay off a bar tab, getting Christmas Eve word that he won $250,000 as a result of his catch, and his life soon deteriorating as those close to him boiled with jealousy and demanded monetary handouts.

McReynolds has been described as a “kind and sensitive man with little more than an eighth grade education…  His lack of education, inability to read and write and gentle demeanor enabled the exploitation of his record fish.” The now jaded, broke McReynolds says, “I was so miserable. I have yet to sell a hat, beer, or a even a frisbee.”

Still, Al McReynolds will always have the last laugh because he holds the record for catching the largest striper ever. That fish, perhaps the most pursued, saught-after catch in all of angling, remains his alone.

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