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.

Stripers are also a delight on the dinner table. Their fillets—sort of carpenter glue off-white with wine-red highlights—cook up white and flaky. Their taste is somewhat stronger than cod or haddock without being gamey. They taste like a fresh ocean breeze feels. You can make fish chowder and they stand up well to baking, broiling, or frying. And perhaps nothing says “summer on the Cape” quite like fresh fish on the grill.

They range up and down the East Coast from their Chesapeake Bay spawning grounds—there is even a West Coast variety. But to me, this is the quintessential New England fish.

Stripers are with us only from about April to October. They head north from the Chesapeake, following the bait and warming water. When our waters hit 50 degrees, the bite turns on. Another indicator is forsythia; when it blooms, there are stripers in our waters. The first spring run striper is usually caught in April from South Cape Beach in Mashpee.

Vinny Foti is president of the Cape Cod Salties Sportfishing Club. After a career as a schoolteacher in Yonkers, New York, he moved to the Cape for the relaxed-pace lifestyle, and soon found the fishing “surpassed anything I’d imagined.” Now he can’t wait to get his boat—Bass Taxi—in the water every spring. “I love to nudge the engine into reverse as it backs me out into the channel at Blish Point and into Barnstable Harbor to chase some early season stripers.”

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Rob Conery is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor to Cape Cod Life Publications.

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