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Net Perfection

Cape and Islands fishermen are hooked on striped bass

This fisherman makes it look easy with a huge striped bass, perfect for a summer’s dinner. Photo by Erika Wastrom

Reverent of their versatility, Blinkoff says, “Stripers can be found cruising the sandy flats of Monomoy, feeding in the waves of the open beaches from the backside, tailing in the grassy marshes of Barnstable Harbor, and lurking among the treacherous rocks of Nobska Point.” While there are hot spots and areas that produce more than others, there is no one place that flat out holds fish around the clock for an entire season. As the saying goes: Fish have tails. They are constantly on the move in search of food.

Striper fishing, like many things (county fairs, dinner in the North End) is best at night. Dusk and dawn are also excellent. Catching a striped bass on the hottest, bright sun-shiniest day of summer is possible, but the odds grow longer.

Most spring stripers are of the smaller “schoolie” variety, but bigger “keepers” are close behind. In Massachusetts, stripers must measure 28 inches to be legally kept, with a strict two fish per angler daily limit. (Starting this year, recreational anglers need to carry a saltwater permit, available for $10 at any tackle shop.)

Learning how and where to search is a lifelong process. Like sailing, golf, or any other activity of enduring participation, the rudiments of fishing can be learned in an afternoon. The rewards come through a lifetime of effort. Whether surfcasting, trolling, bottom fishing or fly casting, there’s a moment in angling that never gets old. The bite. You cast your offering out there, hope to the horizon, and then you feel it. Nibble, nibble, yank! It’s away! The fish takes the bait and now the universe is just you against him.

Johnny Spampinato is a professional musician on the Cape (he’s a guitarist for The Spampinato Brothers and NRBQ). If there’s one thing he loves more than music, it’s fishing, something he has pursued on the Cape for decades now. He sums up the appeal like this: “Stripers on the Bay with the sun setting. Picture yourself dragging back the meat, tail swishing behind you. A tired walk, a satisfied man. I don’t know…I just love it.”

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