The fish would look fantastic above my mantel—huge mouth agape, gills flared—but as it thrashed in the shallow water, I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t drag that striper onto dry land and let it die. Instead, I unhooked the bass, grabbed its lower jaw, and waded it back into the surf. After almost a minute of my gently rocking it back and forth, it began to kick its tail, slowly at first, then violently as it tried to free itself from my grip. I held on a few seconds longer than I needed to. When I finally let go, the fish hung motionless for a moment, and then, in two powerful beats of its massive broom tail, it disappeared from the beam of my flashlight.