Striper fishing

STRIPERS OF DAYS PAST

It’s odd the places one may find themself after 50 or so years slip behind them, and even more interesting the events that transpire between then and now. Me for instance, I grew up mostly in western Massachusetts near the Vermont boarder and was weaned on freshwater fishing. As a youth I terrorized the local trout streams and ponds on my bike with rod and can of worms in hand.
Even back then I had a fascination with the ocean and the fish that swam there. I knew little about the coast and ocean fishing except what I read in outdoor life and what I saw on tv, but I did know I wanted to be there, and did everything possible to get there. I drove my parents nuts wanting to take summer vacations at the sea shore, I wrote everybody and anybody that would listen about obtaining information on saltwater fish and fishing. I even got replies from time to time, one of which was from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Pretty impressive for a small town kid in the 1950’s! Even more impressive was I finally convinced my parents to take a weeks vacation on cape cod, not an easy deal for a poor family. I can’t remember what year it was or how old I was, but I do remember trying to surfcast with my freshwater rod and closed faced spinning reel that I had loaded with 20 pound test line specially for that trip. That didn’t work very well and I didn’t catch anything, but it was a start. After a few years and at the ripe old age of 16 I flew the coup for the summer and set up camp at a friend’s house in Falmouth. Now as luck would have this friends uncle had a 32 foot cabin cruiser and he promised to take the two of us out trolling for blues and bass that month. We trolled “ragmops” out at a place called horseshoe shoals just off Hyannis in vineyard sound and it was there I caught my first ocean fish, and although it was a bluefish and not a bass, it was like the shot heard around the world for me because For the next 36 years I would be  involved with saltwater fishing in one form or another.

BASSIN IN THE 60’S AND 70’S

Those were great days back then, there were tons of fish around and plenty of time to fish for them. From June to late fall we lived, slept, and dreamed striped bass.those first few summers on cape cod I was fortunate enough to stay with friends that lived only a few blocks from surf drive beach in Falmouth. We had only to bike or hoof it to some great surf fishing almost at our back door. Those were simple days and our rods and reels were simple also, we never had the luxury of those giant surf rods and reels. We made do with heavy spinning rods and bait casting rigs and did pretty well for a bunch of kids. Around mid June the alewives would begin their migration up the fresh water creeks to spawn and we kids would lie in wait for them with our dipping nets to scoop them up as they made their way up the waters. These nets were made up of chickenwire on a hoop with a long wooden handle and we would let the net set in the creek until we could feel the fish bumping into the wire mesh(this was at night). The trick was to let enough of them get into the net so when you picked the trap up it contained as many fish as possible. Using these as live bait was difficult because as fast as you would cast them out into the bay they would instinctively swim right back up the creek before the bass had a chance to grab them. You see you had to fish shallow creeks for the basket method to  work and the bass couldn’t chase the bait up into the shallow water. We would keep a bucket of dead ones for cut bait for ourselves, but the barrels we caught we did two things with, one being we would break the females in half and extract the roe to be sold to the local Portugese people for consumption, and the males and spent female bodies were sold to lobstermen for a couple bucks a barrel. Now the thing we would wait for here was for the river herring that had made it up the creek and spawned to make their way back down stream and to the ocean, and the beauty of it was the big bass would be waiting also. All we had to do during our nightly commercial venture was to turn one of our nets around to pick up outbound fish, into the back went the hook, back to the water went the fish, and out to the ocean they would head and also to the waiting bass.
After we were of age and got our drivers licenses we were able to broaden our horizons and branch out to greener pastures, not that the one in our back yard was brown, we just liked variety. There  had been a few incursions to exotic places prior to our new freedom when we could bum rides from parents and older friends, but now we were free to spend entire nights in pursuit of the sacred bass. Our adventures were to cover waters from one end of the cape to the other, and out to the islands and beyond. Over the years as I grew older and moved around the cape I would discover new fishing spots, new friends, and gained many new memories to look back at and reflect.        THE CAPE COD CANAL
The cape cod canal was always a biggie for me. I used to love to sit at waters edge and wait for the bass to make their way to where I sat. the canal was and has always been a popular spot for bass. My favorite place was between the Bourne bridge and the train bridge on the Bourne side. There was a road that went right to waters edge, and I could wait in my car for the fish to show if the weather was sour. Fall was the best time of year, the fish were fat from feeding all summer and they would school up in numbers to feed heavily before migration to the south. What a sight to see the birds working their way up the water way chasing the bait pushed up by the stripers beneath them. The water would be alive with fish smashing and crashing and at times you would think you could walk across the canal on their backs. Folk along the shoreline on either side would crank in fat, healthy bass until either their arms gave out or the school would pass. I used to like to use a medium weight spinning rod and reel and I always would use a kastmaster with a bucktail as a lure. Sure there were some days of no or few fish, but in 1970 there were many more when I drove away with water flowing out the back of the vehicle,  the ice melting from the fish packed in galvanized tubs.

MARTHA’S VINEYARD

when I lived on the mainland I would take the ferry boat from woods hole over to the island. It was pretty expensive to take over your car, so I would pack up my gear on the back of my bike in those early days and peddle to all my favorite hot spots. This was ok unless I wanted to keep a number of bass, and try as I would, toting a cooler around was next to impossible. After a couple weeks I got to know some of the locals and a few of the regulars and on occasion I could stash a few bass in their tubs, and even sell some of my fish along with theirs to the local restaurants, so for the rest of the summer I got out there as much as possible. The next summer however I found a summer job as a cook at a restaurant in oak bluffs and moved there for the season. This was perfect, I was the breakfast cook which left afternoons and all night open to fishing. I was also able to sell my catch to the very place I worked, and it didn’t matter if it was bass or blues, it flew off the menu as fast as the cooks could put it out.
I fished a couple different methods depending on where I ended up and at what time of day. Menemsha was always my favorite I think because it reminded me of the CANAL. I would sit on the stone jetty leading from seaward to the creek itself and watch for the birds to start working on the incoming tide. As was the case at the canal, Menemsha creek would be alive with bass and bluefish turning the water white chasing the mackerel up into the cove.  Here also I would use my bucktailed kastmaster on my medium spinning rod.  I also loved this spot for another reason, for at the base of the jetties in the parking lot was a small fish market, and for a meager sum of money a bored fisherman could get a plate of clams or oysters on the half shell from the raw bar to help pass the time waiting for the tide to turn. Life was good!
Although I fished a number of spots at night my best fishing for large bass was at Lamberts cove just west of vineyard haven on the sound side. Here I would sit at waters edge using a Coleman lantern for light and fish live mackerel or alewives on my bait caster. Some times cut bait would work well also with little interference from dog fish(sand sharks). I would cut a bait in half and float it just up off the bottom with bass float rig.
Then there was Chappy. Chappaquiddick island has to be the epitome of a surfcasters dream come true. It’s been many years since I’ve been there but I’ll never forget those summer nights casting the surf on Wasque beach. Hell, never mind the fishing, the beauty of this unspoiled shore was enough to make me want to just set up camp and never leave, to pursue the endless summer of surfing and bassin on white sandy beaches in the rays of the setting sun. Chappy is a small island just off the eastern side of the vineyard. To get there one has to first drive to Edgartown
where you find the barge at the town dock that will ferry both you and veichle the short distance across the creek that separates Edgartown harbor from Katama Bay. Once there you would follow Chappaquiddick road to the sign that pointed to Toms Neck lane road (it used to be called bridge road) and after a short distance to the small wooden bridge that went to the  parking lot adjacent to the beach. There are other roads on the island, but I believe most of them were private and not for the public to wander on. In fact if you do plan a trip over to chappy get a map and plan out the trip with new information from local sources, because  it’s been many years since I’ve been there and I’m sure there’s been some change. Even back then the few folk that lived there were reclusive and we tried to respect their privacy and property so as to keep our fishing paradise acsseable .this is good policy then and there as well as now and other places.
As I said chappaquiddick has a east exposure facing directly seaward, and for this reason there is always surf. Although Wasque was enjoyed by both fishermen and surfers there was never conflict due to the expanse of sand dunes and open space, and back then there were never beach goers, at least none that I remember. Here in the surf is where I would fish the long heavy surf rods. Live bait and surface plugs were the ticket here. A live mackerel sent out beyond the breakers was best, but in their  absence I would cast big blue and white Adams popper plugs and work them back through the waves while standing waist deep in blue surf wearing only cutoff jeans and sneakers. Talk about stress free and natural highs.
Both bass and blues were for the taking here, and if fishing was good in the day , it was even better at night, campfires and lanterns marking the places fishermen cast their baits.

THE PAST COMES BACK
As I said before, the fish were everywhere back then, however catching them was not always a given. I’ve cast lures in the bass creek in Yarmouth, fished live and cut bait in the coves of  bass river in south Yarmouth, trolled eels from Cuttyhunk to horseshoe shoals, all with success. There was a lot of experimenting and time put in, many empty hooks and fishless days and nights spent while compiling methods and knowledge to achieve success at different places. It was true then and it still is, if you want to consistently be hooked up, you got to put your time in, not only to develop methods and baits, but to gain a rhythm and patience to work those baits and pieces of bottom where the fish hang out.

I guess the bass took a nose dive in the mid 70’s. I’m not sure to what degree and for what reason, as fate would have it I too departed the waters of the cape about the same time the bass started their decline, to spend four years in the us navy. I managed to get stationed at the sub base in new London Ct., but for the next several years I did not have much time to get back to the cape to fish. I did some surf and beach trips around neighboring Rhode Island with minimal success, mostly due to lack of time to devote, and a lack of fish. The  Bluefish was the king of long island sound at the time, so I spent a lot of my off time on the head boats out of Grotten and Niantic Ct. in pursuit of the great salt water pirana. During those years for different reasons bassin got stuck on the back burner, and after my discharge I ended up in Gloucester Massachusetts to begin my quest of the groundfish that lie off the new England coast. As far as striped bass went in the early 1980’s there were few or none to be had along this northern rocky coast and they were far from my mind for several more years until one day while cutting bait on back of one of the head boats someone noticed some kind of fish taking the scraps being tossed overboard. Someone got a boat rod and baited up a hunk of clam and tossed it over just for giggles, and almost instantly was hooked up, but with what we were still not sure. It wasn’t a big fish, about fifteen inches long,but there laying on the deck of the Yankee patriot was the first bass I had seen in five years. I had not a clue that what I was looking at was the good old days on their way back.

DOLPHIN DON’S TIDBITS

BROILED BASS OR BLUEFISH FILLET
This is how we prepared it at the Boston House Restaurant in Oak Bluffs
skin and portion the fillet, we used 10 ounce pieces
skinned side down place fillet on a metal broiler plate
season with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, a splash of white wine, top with a few bread crumbs and a pad of butter.
At the restaurant we would pop the dish into the oven over the broiler for about 10 minutes, at home a pre-heated 375 degree oven will do, remove and finish off under the broiler for a minute just to brown it off. Do not over cook! Slide broiler plate on a underliner and serve at once.
That was it, easy, tasty, and good for you.

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Pictures of light houses, sailboats, and places we’d all like to be in Winter.

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Habanero Hellfire Chili, Very Hot Chili

This recipe is not mine, it is from the website all recipes.com I have made it several times and there is wiggle room for tweaking and experimentation. I like hot food HOT and I jazzed up the fire content a bit with scotch bonnet peppers and a special hot sauce called “Satan’s Blood.”

Habanero Hellfire Chili

SUBMITTED BY: EDD RYAN PHOTO BY: DaCuda

“Tasty chili whose name says it all! Note: Whole Anaheim peppers are not widely available; this ingredient is optional, and you can use hot pepper sauce instead.”

PREP TIME 30 Min
COOK TIME 1 Hr 30 Min
READY IN 2 Hrs

SERVINGS

(Help)

Servings
US METRIC

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 6 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 8 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 ounce chile paste
  • 2 cups water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place bacon in a large soup pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain excess grease, leaving enough to coat bottom of pot Remove bacon, drain on paper towels and chop.
  2. Brown beef and pork in pot over medium high heat. When meat is browned, stir in the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, Anaheim peppers, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes, chili powder, bouillon, crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, beer, tomato paste, chile paste and water.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and bacon and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.