Not to be confused with the tactic of high-stick nymphing, high-sticking a rod while fighting a fish is something I see pretty regularly in both conventional and fly fishing. It happens when you bring your rod back at too abrupt of an angle around 90 degrees or more. This puts abnormal strain on the rod blank which can result in that sickening KERPOWWW sound that any angler dreads. At the very least it's an inefficient way to apply pressure on a fish. The last thing you want is to extensively prolong the battle on something like a tarpon or tuna—especially if you're a catch and release angler. It's hard on you, and especially hard on any fish.
The best way to keep your rod intact is to simply avoid lifting back too far. Fishing on a boat is a prime example of when folks easily get into trouble. If you are fighting a fish straight up and down (such as the California yellowtail fight pictured above), keeping the rod low assures the rod bends evenly and naturally while using the backbone to lift. The backbone is where the best lifting power is, so it only makes sense to use that part of the blank to pull on big, strong fish.
Hockey isn't the only place where high-sticking is a no-no. Avoid it and you'll be a more efficient angler!