Megan Plete Postol 07.29.22
Chad “Benji” Jackson from New Hartford, New York took up fishing a few years ago as a way to get outside and do something fun in the midst of the pandemic. Since then he has caught his share of run-of-the-mill fish, that is, until June 29 when he reeled in a monster 36″ Tiger Muskie from the Mohawk River in Utica. He estimated it to weigh between 10 – 12 pounds. He took some quick photos with it and released the monster fish back into the river. The Muskie was his personal best and put up a good fight.
Just a few days later, Jackson was back at it, fishing in the same spot on the Mohawk River. To his surprise, his personal best record was about to quickly shatter when he caught a 45-inch Northern Pike.
“It felt like an accomplishment to catch the Tiger Muskie because I’ve been trying to catch a big fish monster since I started fishing, and I finally did it,” Jackson said. “But than three days later when I caught the northern pike it was like a dream because it was such a short notice and I was literally telling everyone it would be hard to beat the Tiger Muskie but then all of a sudden I pull that monster out. It was just a crazy experience.”
His fishing pole was equipped with only 10-pound line on and no leader line, so he was afraid he might lose the fish. He had his friend tried to net the whopper, but it was too big for the net they had brought along. His friend grabbed the pike and wrestled it onto shore. Both fish were caught near dusk using bobbers and live shiners from Fite da Bite, a bait shop in New Hartford.
The Mohawk River is home to lots of big, toothy, ‘river monsters.” Jackson’s friend Pat Brady recently caught a 44-inch Tiger Muskie just minutes from the spot where Jackson caught his. Jackson is predominantly a “catch and release” fisherman. He shares his fishing adventures on Tik Tok as @cbassin and in a Facebook group he started called “Fishing with CBASS.” There he frequently posts photos and videos of his catches. He tries to go fishing as much as he can, usually early in the morning or late at night, and sometimes twice a day. He loves being near the water and the joy it has brought him.
“What I love about fishing is the sunrise, the sunsets,” he said. “I love the feeling of hooking into big fish. I can’t even explain what it feels like, even the fight from the fish is a thrill. I also love that it’s a positive hobby and it can cost a lot of money but you can literally can get out there with not a lot and still have a blast. It’s really not about catching fish, because I find myself out there for long hours with catching nothing a lot.”