Passion for fish becomes big business for Wallingford resident
Passion for fish becomes big business for Wallingford resident
April 6, 2016 01:21AM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — Greg Myerson has been called the “Warren Buffet” of fishing by the New York Daily News and even a fish whisperer for the number and sheer size of the striped bass he has caught. He has won numerous fishing competitions and holds four World Records, but the self-proclaimed mad scientist doesn’t do it for the publicity — he does it for the passion.
Myerson, a 46-year-old Wallingford resident, is an electrician for the state Department of Transportation. The North Haven native attended Lyman Hall High School’s VoAg Department, where he graduated in 1986. After a successful high school football career — he was captain of the team the year Lyman Hall won the state championship — Myerson said he passed on Division I scholarships and attended the University of Rhode Island.
“I wanted to be on the water and keep fishing,” he said. “That was my main priority.”
He won the Striper Cup tournament in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The five-month long tournament extends from Maine to New Jersey and is considered “the Northeast’s premier fishing tournament,” according to the event’s website. Striped bass caught during the five-month window are weighed, with the three heaviest fish from each participant counting toward their scores. The winner is named the Angler of the Year. The contestant with the heaviest fish caught during the tournament is honored for having the Bass of the Year.
In last year’s tournament, Myerson was the Angler of the Year, with three bass totaling 181.99 pounds. He was also given Bass of the Year honors, with his 73.75 pound catch on July 11, 2013.
Myerson holds numerous world records, repeatedly breaking his own for heaviest striped bass caught. In October 2011, the International Game Fish Association declared that Myerson had broken the world record after catching a striped bass that weighed 81.88 pounds using the “rattlesinker” — an invention he created to lure striped bass to his bait.
For his accomplishments, he’ll be one of seven people honored by the Wallingford Education Foundation at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner on April 25.
“He’s like Dr. Doolittle. He can talk to fish,” said Stephen Hoag, of the Wallingford Education Foundation. “.... He’s brilliant and has this uniqueness that is attractive and it’s what draws you to him.”
Myerson says fishing came naturally to him, which was surprising since no one in his family fished. His mother told him he began fishing when he was just 2 years old “when he would go to the sewer with a plastic rod and be there for hours,” he said.
Since 1991, Myerson has worked on creating a rattler to use for fishing. Fish are near-sighted, Myerson said, so it doesn’t matter if you use a shiny, glimmering lure. He realized fish use sound to hunt their prey and to bring them closer to him, he’d have to use more than a lure.
As the “mad scientist,” Myerson said he began using the fish he caught as subjects to determine how to draw them closer to him in the water.
“I would dissect the big fish to see what they ate,” he said. “The biggest ones would feed on lobster. There was a lot of lobster in the big fish — fish that were 50 pounds or bigger.”
He purchased a 200 pound tank and placed granite rocks at the bottom of it, he said. He filled the tank with lobsters and with an underwater microphone he recorded the sound the crustaceans made.
“Lobsters are really noisy,” Myerson said. “Underwater, sound travels five times faster. People make lures in all these fancy colors, but it doesn’t matter. It’s the sound that attracts the fish.”
He figured out the decibel level and frequency of the sounds and gathered different materials to replicate it. In 2008, Myerson said he perfected the sound through what he called the “rattlesinker.”
He acknowledged that his focus is on further developing the rattlesinker, but he’s been trying to mimic the sounds of other creatures the striped bass prey on, including crayfish and crabs. He’s also working on the “Rattlebucktail,” which will also emit the same sound.
“It’s crazy stuff. I call myself an acoustical oceanographer,” he said. “I never spent any time doing it in college. I can probably teach a class if there was one. I became a mad scientist to detect underwater sounds.”
The rattle, which is patented, consist of small glass tubes, with three to four metal ball bearings inside. It’s a careful combination of materials, Myerson said. The rattles are then placed in hollow sinkers, which are made of lead and are colored.
After he finishes work with the state, Myerson returns to his South Elm Street home and begins working in the shed.
“I come home from work, to work,” he said, standing outside the doors of the shed Monday.
A motorcycle is parked in the middle of the space, and a workbench was constructed along the wall. On Monday afternoon, the bench was covered in rattles and hollowed-out sinkers. There were a few completed packages of the rattlesinker, and Myerson showed off the prototype of the rattlebucktail. The back wall of the shed holds a number of fishing rods that he’s used and even helped create. Because of his success, Myerson has a line of fishing rods he develops for Lamiglas, a company based in Washington state that produces fishing rods.
He even showed off another prototype he’s developing for a product by Tony Maja, a well-known fishing equipment company. The owner of Tony Maja wanted Myerson to create a product to allow anglers to use his rattle on a bunker spoon, a piece of equipment that lures striped bass, he said.
“You never know what you’re going to find in a shed,” he said.
The hollowed out sinkers in boxes on the ground in the shed were colored dark green or fluorescent yellow. Every detail is carefully decided upon, even the color.
“Blue fish are attracted to flashes and shiny things. Once they see it, they destroy the lure because they have sharp teeth,” he said. “To get through the blue fish to the striped bass, I had them color the sinkers camo-green because the water has a slight green tint to it and the blue fish can’t see it.”
Myerson has been selling his patented inventions through his business, World Record Striper Company. It has been an Internet-based company for the past two years, but Myerson has plans to open a storefront in Westbrook by Memorial Day, he said.
He says his success in the fishing industry has led famous people to invite him fishing with them. He’s gone fishing with the likes of actor Edward Burns; CNN anchorman Chris Cuomo and U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Myerson also tries to give back through his fishing success, frequently contributing to charities like the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project. A recent raffle for a fishing trip with Myerson raised thousands of dollars for St. Jude, he said.
He doesn’t have plans to enter the 2014 Striper Cup, however.
“I’ve entered three times and I’ve won three times,” he said. “People know my name and know what I’ve done. What do I have to prove?”
He’ll continue to fish and despite his success he doesn’t have any plans to leave town.
“It’s been a really awesome experience,” he said. “From here on out, I don’t know what will happen. I feel a close bond to the people in town and I don’t think I’ll ever leave.”