Not too many people find the Brooklyn Fishing Derby gross — but they may now.
That’s because Greenpoint native Jan Grosz won the big prize by hooking a 44-inch striped bass a mere five days before the close of the six-week competition, besting scores of anglers from Greenpoint to Red Hook.
Grosz’s victory caps a wild fishing season on the East River where the lead changed several times in the derby founded by fishing legend Ben Sargent.
“He was out there every day, fishing his heart out — that’s why he deserved to win,” Sargent said.
Grosz snagged the 44-incher off the newly opened N. Fifth street pier and submitted a photograph of his beautiful opalescent bass for consideration. And you should have seen the ones that got away.
As the derby’s winner, Grosz, a Polish immigrant who speaks little English, reeled in a shiny trophy and a $500 check, which he is donating to a children’s charity. It is unclear what happened to the fish. Fish that are deemed too small are supposed to be thrown back into the river, as per state rules, but the buzz is that Grosz legally kept the oversized bass.
Grosz’s competitors tipped their hats to him, begrudgingly resolving to put more time in next year to catch a prize-winning whitefish.
“He’s a veteran fisherman, he put in the most hours and he caught the biggest fish,” said Williamsburg resident David Cole, whose largest fish was a 33-inch striper. “I work nine-to-five and I go out there when he can. I think he was able to get the nice hours out on the water, instead I came in at high tide.”