One of the things that draws me to fishing in the ocean is you never know what might show up on the end of your fishing line. It doesn’t happen often, but it seems to happen often enough that each new trip allows you to dream. A new personal best (fill-in-the-blank) fish? A new lure working better than you imagined? A surprise (slim chance, but rarely realized) catch?

Imagine it’s a fish that you never expected to see, on a lure you made yourself, at a size you could never have imagined. In this story you’ll read about Dave Schonzeit’s epic day spent fly fishing in the San Diego surf.

hurley_davestriperFly fisherman Dave Schonzeit had just caught a huge striped bass, a fish of a lifetime for any angler from the surf at a North San Diego County beach. After releasing the fish back to the sea, the Vista angler realized what he had accomplished.

“My hands were shaking, and I couldn’t even attempt to fish anymore,” said Schonzeit, 35, a bellman at Omni La Costa Resort. “I felt like I just needed to sit down with my knees crossed, Indian style, and reflect on it. I was so amped up I couldn’t even sleep Tuesday night. I was just so fortunate to catch such a fish.”

What made the catch of the fish Schonzeit estimated at 30 pounds more spectacular is that Schonzeit’s fly-fishing buddy, David Hurley, captured it all on video. Hurley used his i-Phone to record the catch, and it’s as pure as any fishing video you’ll ever see in terms of passion, emotion, athleticism and quality angling, a battle in the surf for the ages.

“I don’t refer to this as my fish, my catch,” Schonzeit said. “It’s our fish. David and I have put in so much time, fished so many hours. It was a team effort all the way.”

Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Photos: The San Diego Union-Tribune (top), David Hurley (above)

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Joe Sarmiento
Joe is an avid saltwater angler. He grew up in Washington State on the south end of Puget Sound where he first started fishing as a boy catching perch, flounder, rockfish, and occasionally salmon. Today, Joe lives in Southern California where he fishes off beaches and jetties, kayaks, and sportfishing boats. Joe writes about his saltwater adventures in the SoCal Salty blog, and for Western Outdoor News.