Greg Myerson caught a big fish four years ago that literally changed his life. The fish was an 81.88-pound striped bass, which broke by 3 pounds the International Game Fish Association record that had stood for 29 years.

And pretty much just like that, Myerson, a longtime electrician from Connecticut who calls himself a “quiet country kid,” was making headlines.

A national outdoors magazine proclaimed him the “world’s greatest striped bass fisherman.” The New York Daily News labeled him the “Warren Buffett of the fishing world.” He and a partner started a fledgling fishing tackle company called the World Record Striper Co. in Westbrook, Connecticut, which embeds “fish calls” in the form of rattles in everything from sinkers to flies.

“The fish changed my life,” says Myerson, 47, of Wallingford, Connecticut, a fun-loving outdoors guy who likes to laugh, tell stories and “shoot from the hip” when he gives talks to fishing groups. “It’s the fish everybody wants to catch. It’s the most coveted record in the fishing world — and the most controversial. You’re just thrust into the spotlight. You might not want to go there, but you really don’t have any choice.”

At 6 feet, 4 inches and 280 pounds, it’s hard to miss Myerson when he enters a room. He has broad shoulders, a reddish beard and mustache, and an outsize personality. Myerson was a standout high school defensive end who turned down a number of Division I football scholarships to attend the University of Rhode Island. “I went to URI so I could striper-fish.”

Long before he caught the record, Myerson was known as a hard-charging angler who logged thousands of hours on the water at night and had figured out how to catch enormous bass. In that sense, the record wasn’t a fluke, even though he wasn’t specifically chasing a record when he encountered the big fish. “I didn’t have any idea what the record was before I caught the fish,” he says. “No idea.”

The year before Myerson caught the 81-pounder, he took three stripers over 60 pounds, including a 69-pounder that took “bass of the year” honors from On the Water magazine. The night after he caught the record, he says, he released a bass weighing 60 and change.

GregMyerson-with-his-striper-captioned

By his account, he’s taken about 30 stripers over 50 pounds, eight larger than 60, three in the 70s, including a 73.75-pounder two years ago that won big fish of the year honors, and the 81-pounder.

He caught the record fish in early August 2011 drifting a live eel on a three-way rig over Southwest Reef in Long Island Sound off Westbrook at sunset. The tide was just beginning to ebb, and the fight lasted about 20 minutes.

It was the first fish of the evening, and Myerson and his partner stayed out and kept catching. He says the two of them probably took 20 fish that night, releasing all but two. He went to a local seafood restaurant when he got back to the dock and whooped it up. He didn’t get home until about 1 a.m., when he weighed the big fish for the first time on a digital hand scale. He says it registered about 83 pounds. He called the owner of Jack’s Shoreline Bait and Tackle, promised to bring the fish in first thing in the morning and then passed out.

“From then on, things just changed,” he says. “That fish changed my life.”

Although the record striper certainly put Myerson on the map, he says he wants to be remembered for more than being just the guy who caught the world’s biggest bass. “That fish is not what defines me,” he maintains.

Myerson would rather be seen as the person who successfully incorporated fish-attracting sound into a host of lures. “I want to be known as a pioneer in this industry,” he says. “I invented the first fish call.”

The record fish took a live eel, but Myerson says a big part of his success with large stripers has been his “rattling sinker” — a lead weight with a rattle inside — which he says emits a noise similar to that of a lobster or crab, favorite prey of big stripers. “It was my secret weapon,” he says. “It’s the sound that matters, not what something looks like. If it sounds like something to eat, they’re going to come check it out.”

That technology, some of which he says is patented, is also the cornerstone of his business. Myerson feels good about the future, which he says includes a major investor in his fishing company. “I don’t know where this is all going to go,” he says, “but it seems like it’s going to be a big deal.”

If his tackle company grows to be as big as the fish it’s named after, he’ll have something to brag about.

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