I just spoke with Al Bentsen on the phone and he can't remember the fish I spoke of so I'll tell it: We were with Vinny Gugleonie (writer of the column called "Strictly Casting" from the late 60's and early 70's), summer of 1977 at a spot called "The Mudbar" in the back (bay side)of Jones Beach.
We (Bentsen, his late son Allen and I) had been getting some very large fish into the high 40's just about every night and Al invited Vinny for the night. I had never met Vinny (even though he was a "Legend" to me) so I left Al and Vinny on the west side of the bar and I took the east.
Nobody had a hit for the first two hours and the tide had turned to flood and we would have to leave soon (or be trapped). I saw/heard some commotion to my left and thought Al or Vinny had one on but something didn't sound right.
I went to investigate and found Al in the drink up to the tops of his waders with Vinny hanging over his shoulder. What happened is Al hooked a big fish that took off accross the channel like a rocket ship, practically emptying the squidder. Towards the end of that run, Al's drag started to stick and while hastily trying to loosen his drag, he somehow got his thumb stuck in between the star and the handle.
If having gained nothing on the fish and having his drag sieze wasn't enough, the fish decided to take off some more. To take pressure off the fish, Al started advancing into the water while Vinny was desperately trying to disengage Al's thumb from the reel.
In the end, Al couldn't go any further so he stopped, expecting the fish to break him off. Instead, the fish snapped the head hook in half and completely ripped the tail hook from the eel.
Al says he can't remember all this as it's still in his "short term memory" (less than thirty years ago)! I only hope that when I get to be his age that I'm as active and fit as he is. He looks stronger now than he did 30 years ago when I first met him! JC
PS-Hello John P! (thats my spot!)