Frank Castellano actually did catch a fish this big.
While fishing Saturday night near Horton Point Lighthouse, the New Suffolk resident battled to reel in a striped bass that he measured at 45 pounds and 44 inches long — and then carried it more than a half-mile to his car.
In doing so, Mr. Castellano has fulfilled a lifelong dream.
“I was just so proud to catch him,” he said. “That’s my one trophy fish. Now I can say I caught a big one.”
Mr. Castellano said he believes he’s had fish of a similar size on his line before, but was never able to reel them in before the line broke.
In the past, he had expected to use a kayak and live bait to catch his token big fish, but Mr. Castellano managed to wrangle this particular striped bass with a rebel lure while standing in waters near the rocky shoreline.
Once the fish took the hook, Mr. Castellano needed a full 10 to 15 minutes to reel it in. As tiring as that was, he said the bigger challenge was getting back to his car holding a fish the size of a small child.
“I got more exhausted carrying him from Horton Point to McCabe’s [Town Park], which is probably a half-mile to mile walk on the beach at night,” he said. “I wound up carrying him, the pole and the tackle box at once back to the car. That was a struggle.”
When he got home, Mr. Castellano told his neighbor Elaine Romagnoli about the catch.
“He said to me, ‘I’ll never catch another one this big,’ ” she said. “I’m excited for him … Everybody who sees it says, ‘Oh my god.’ ”
Mr. Castellano, who worked for years as a chef for years and is now a caterer, cut the bass into filets and gave some to his neighbors — though he admitted his prize might not yield the absolute best meat.
“The smaller fish are actually better-tasting than the bigger fish,” he said. “As they get bigger, they get a little tougher.”
That didn’t stop Ms. Romagnoli from making a striped bass, red onion and cucumber ceviche.
For the record, she said, “It was delicious.”
Photo: Frank Castellano of New Suffolk with the 45-pound, 44-inch striped bass he caught off Horton’s Point in Southold Saturday. (Credit: Courtesy)