Experts say it is a once-in-a-lifetime catch, but not because of its size or rarity. In fact, Martin White’s two-pound, seven-ounce striped bass is not all that extraordinary to the casual viewer. What does make it remarkable is that White found it more than 3,000 miles away from its natural range, off the coast of Dover in southeastern England.
“It’s unheard of for a striped bass to travel all the way across the Atlantic,” Dr. Gary Nelson, who works at the Massachusetts State Fisheries, told the Express.
It is believed that White’s fish is the first striped bass to have made the long journey from America’s eastern seaboard to European waters. Although the fish have been introduced to many waterways across the US and even along the Pacific Coast, no striped bass has ever been recorded to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. In their native environments, striped bass rarely move more than a few miles off the East Coast.
“I guess I just had the right bait at the right time and I was in the right place at the right time,” White told the Times Series. “It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime catch.”
White was using mackerel for bait and was baffled when he reeled the fish in. As a lifelong angler on the other side of the pond, White had no idea what the bass was.
“When I got home I looked it up on the internet and found it was an American striped bass,” he said.
A possible explanation is that the fish came from somewhere much closer than American waters. After all, striped bass have been introduced to many locales across the globe for their sportfishing qualities and great taste. There are striped bass in Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Ecuador, and numerous other countries so it may not be out of the question that the lone bass entered British waters from someplace much closer.
While a trip across the Atlantic may be unheard of, it is not impossible. Striped bass are an adaptable fish that can survive in a range of habitats. Mike Heyline, chairman of the British Record Fish Committee, says that a DNA test would conclusively prove whether or not White’s catch did come from the United States. Unfortunately, that may now be impossible as White has already baked and consumed the tasty bass.