All about that bass: Harvard students snag 25-pound fish in Charles River

Eric Wu caught a 25-pound bass in the Charles River this week.
Eric Wu caught a 25-pound bass in the Charles River this week.Eric and Albert Wu

By the end of the ordeal, Eric Wu was struggling to stand up.

On Wednesday, as the sun beamed high over the city and temperatures reached 70 degrees, Eric and his older brother, Albert Wu, decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather.

The two Harvard University graduate students — Eric is pursuing a computer science degree, while Albert is going for his doctorate in statistics — meandered down to the Charles River early in the afternoon to go fishing, an activity they often enjoy together in the summertime.

Not long into their impromptu trek to the great outdoors, Eric found himself on the other end of a fishing line with a 25-pound striped bass, a land-versus-water fight he would end up winning after a brief struggle that put his strength to the test.


“Fish that we have caught before in the Charles are 1 or 2 pounds; 3 pounds was the biggest we’d caught before,” Eric said. “This just completely trumped the rest of the fish that we’ve caught.”

Eric said Albert had rigged up a special lure and cast it out a few times with no luck. Albert then handed the rod to his younger brother to give it a whirl. After casting the line on his first shot, Eric felt a tug. He thought he snagged the hook on a log or something else in the murky urban river, he said.

Then, the fish showed its scales.

“We saw it sort of come out of the water, and there was a huge wake when it came out. That’s when Albert saw the stripes on it,” said Eric, 24. “It was disbelief. I don’t have words to describe it.”

CBS Boston first reported the big catch. Albert captured video of the moment his brother caught the fish and started battling with it to bring it toward the shore. In the footage, you can hear Albert yelling, “Striped bass. Striper!”


They didn’t truly realize its size until Eric had the fish in his arms. It weighed 25 pounds and measured 39 to 40 inches long, Eric said.

“It took sort of, you know, my whole body to pull it out, it was that big,” Eric said. “Even just lifting it up after that 10-minute battle was quite a task.”

Eric said that the brothers released the fish shortly after catching and weighing it, and showing it to people who had gathered nearby.

According to the state’s website, a striped bass — or striper — can weigh more than 100 pounds; it’s rare to find one that tips the scale past 50 pounds.

The species is found locally from May to November but has been known to stay in the area during the winter months.

The Charles River Watershed Association’s website says there are more than 25 fish species in the Charles River, including striped bass.

In a message to the Globe, state Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Mike Armstrong called the catch “unusual but not crazy.”

When asked why he thought such a large bass was swimming in the Charles River in February, Eric explained it this way: “I guess the fish just decided to come out like all of us did when the weather got nice.”

Steve Annear can be reached atsteve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@steveannear.