Cape and Islands fishermen are hooked on striped bass.
For fishermen, there’s a magical tide that washes over Cape Cod and the Islands every year. The temperature notches up, and fish of all varieties rush into the warmer waters in bays, estuaries, and rivers around the Cape. There are cod, fluke, flounder, black sea bass, tautog, scup, and bluefish—and those are just some of the edible saltwater varieties—that swim in the waters around Cape Cod. But for thousands of anglers, the ultimate is the striped bass.
The pilgrims served it at the first Thanksgiving. Today, the striped bass is the most coveted recreational fish in the Commonwealth. “A striper can thrill an 8-year-old by eating a sandworm fished from a harbor jetty,” says Kevin Blinkoff, editor of the New England fishing magazine On The Water, “and do the same to an Orvis-clad adult by turning its nose up at a perfectly presented crab fly.”
Stripers, he says, “make you feel like nature has created a perfect fish, just for you.”
The reasons for striper popularity are myriad. Aesthetically, they are beautiful. Consider their bright white trim and understated grays and faded greens. Even the aspect ratio of their scales is proportionally consistent with the weathered cedar shingles on cottages across the Cape. They literally look like they belong here.
They also feed aggressively. A hungry striper will crash a bait like a car wreck. And if you hook one—and they can range up to 60 pounds or more—you’ll know all about it. They fight like cornered wolverines. Hooked stripers leave shattered rods, snapped lines, straightened hooks, and frustrated fishermen in their wake.