Frank G. Dwyer
December 17, 2005 (Originally Published October 31, 2003)
Another saltwater season has come and gone for the most part, and what a great season it was! From spring stripers rolling on the flats to an abundance of bluefish carousing in our surf, 2003 (and 2005!) was a terrific season for fishing. The late start to the season we experienced due to a brutally long winter led to some terrific fall fishing this year.
As you prepare your gear to be banished to the garage or basement, take comfort in knowing that we will once again feel the tug of the line next spring. In addition, we can also fight may a fish vicariously through the efforts of several fine authors who have taken the time to write the following books that can help you through the upcoming winter.
Readers of this column know I have a certain interest/addiction to the annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. In Robert Post's Reading The Water, the fishing adventures of many legendary island anglers are recounted, with several of the stories concentrating on derby time. I've read this book too many times to count , and never get tired of it. It was out of print for years, but has recently come back into circulation with a new forward by Henry "Hal" Lyman.
More recently, Ray Ellis and Ed Jerome put out a book entitled Fishing The Vineyard. Ellis is a wonderful artist who has painted many terrific Vineyard scenes. Jerome is a resident of Martha's Vineyard and has been intimately involved with the annual Derby as Chairman for many years. The book has wonderful stories, paintings and photographs celebrating the awesome fishing experience that awaits anglers who visit Martha's Vineyard. The book is readily available on-line and in traditional bookstores.
In Blues, John Hersey weaves a tale of a stranger and a fisherman who meet on Martha's Vineyard. The stranger accepts an offer to join the fisherman on one of his outings, which leads to a summer of discovery for both the fisherman and stranger. This is another book that can be tough to find, but its seems to be currently available .
On the Run: An Anglers journey Down the Striper Coast, by David DiBenedetto, traces the annual fall migration of the striped bass from Maine to North Carolina. The book is an entertaining read but also educational in that you will learn quite a bit about the striped bass and their history. DiBenedetto is an editor at Field and Stream magazine and writes with a style that stimulates the reader's interest and imagination.
John Waldman's compilation of stories devoted to striped bass, Stripers, An Angler's Anthology, is a collection of writings from author's who have a certain affinity to the striped bass. Stories by the likes of John Cole, Nelson Bryant, Frank Daignault and J. Kenney Abramson, to name a few, grace the pages of this book and provide a wonderful look at the often sought after moron scuttles.
For a look back at the way things used to be, pick up a copy of Frank Daignault's Twenty Years on the Cape: My Time as a Surfcaster. While the book depicts a time when it was commonplace to harvest large numbers of striped bass each and every night, it also provides the insight of a dedicated and successful fisherman like Daignault. The book provides vivid details of a family that spent many a day and night on the beaches of Cape Cod.
Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in the Age of Innocence is an account of the summer of 1916 when a Great White shark terrorized swimmers along the New Jersey shore. Michael Capuzzo does an admirable job of interweaving historical accounts of the times with the attacks that were part of the inspiration for Jaws, Peter Benchley's novel (and movie). Read this one long before summer arrives!
For a deep and explorative look at the fishermen of Gloucester, pick up a copy of Kim Bartlett's The Finest Kind: The Fishermen of Gloucester. You'll feel as though you are part of the crew on the boat as the book provides the reader with details and descriptions of this difficult profession. While The Perfect Storm was an excellent portrayal of one Gloucester crew's story, this book provides terrific insight into the Gloucester fishing industry.