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On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast

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Overview

Each autumn, one of nature's most magnificent dramas plays out when striped bass undertake a journey, from the northeastern United States to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in search of food and warmer seas. Writer and angler David DiBenedetto followed this great migration — the fall run — for three months in the autumn of 2001.

On the Run offers vivid portrayals of the zany and obsessive characters DiBenedetto met on his travels — including the country's most daring ...

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On the Run

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Overview

Each autumn, one of nature's most magnificent dramas plays out when striped bass undertake a journey, from the northeastern United States to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in search of food and warmer seas. Writer and angler David DiBenedetto followed this great migration — the fall run — for three months in the autumn of 2001.

On the Run offers vivid portrayals of the zany and obsessive characters DiBenedetto met on his travels — including the country's most daring fisherman, an underwater videographer who chucked his corporate job in favor of filming striped bass, and the reclusive angler who claims that catching the world-record striper in 1982 sent his life into a tailspin. Along his route, DiBenedetto also delves into the natural history and biology of this great game fish, and depicts the colorful cultures of the seaside communities where the striped bass reigns supreme.

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Editorial Reviews

Nick Lyons
“DiBenedetto has written a book filled with passion and wit.”
James Prosek
“A fantastic book...a delightful tale vividly brought to life by DiBenedetto’s lucid prose.”
Randy Wayne White
“On the Run ranks among the finest outdoor writing I’ve read in the last decade. It’s hilarious, articulate and lyrical.”
Publishers Weekly
Using a new line with the old formula of the trout fishing-road trip memoir, DiBenedetto, an editor at Field & Stream magazine, creates an original debut about striped bass fishing. Following the fall migration from Maine to North Carolina, the author captures the fish's rich history, which has seen it go from being one of America's premiere game fish to near extinction, and its present state as the prime example of how a fish population can rebound thanks to the joint efforts of fishermen, conservationists and politicians. The combination of history and science fleshes out the fishing scenes and makes the book more than a young man's romp down the coast. Adding to the local flavor at each stop is the cast of characters, some salty and some sweet, who accompany and guide DiBenedetto on his journey. Eschewing trite euphemisms for fresh interpretations of the natural world ("this wad of baitfish spinning like a disco ball"), DiBenedetto is both informative and entertaining. The imaginative language combined with forays into the uncharted waters of atypical sports like spearfishing, underwater videography and skishing (think ocean fishing without the boat) brings an adventuresome, open-minded attitude that much fishing literature lacks. Written during the fall of 2001, the book's high point is DiBenedetto and his young nephew's trip to New York Harbor when "a cloud still emanated" from ground zero. Fun and refreshing, DiBenedetto's book will hook fishermen and may even net its share of landlubbers as well. Illus., map. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Stripers are a game fish that seize the angler's soul, and this book offers a striking example of just how passionate this particular piscatorial pursuit can be. Written by an upcoming sporting scribe, it details the author's interaction with striped bass from Maine to the North Carolina coast as they make their annual autumn migration. This is a fishing book, but it also involves natural history, a conservationist's conscience, and some of the colorful, crotchety characters associated with the sport. For elusive reasons, stripers seem to stimulate fine writing, and this book deserves to stand alongside efforts such as John N. Cole's Striper and George Reiger's Striped Bass Chronicles. Sprightly, sensible, and engaging, it is a book for the shelves of serious anglers and public libraries alike.-Jim Casada, Outdoor Writers Assn. of America, Rock Hill, SC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060087463
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/14/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 172,028
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

David DiBenedetto is the editor in chief of Garden & Gun magazine. He is the author of On the Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast and the editor of the New York Times bestselling The Southerner’s Handbook. He grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and now resides in Charleston, South Carolina, with his wife, Jenny; their son, Sam; and their Boykin spaniel, Pritchard.

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First Chapter

On the Run
An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast

Chapter One

Swimming With the Fishes

"I don't advise peeing in your wet suit," shouted Paul Melnyk. "You'll get a mean rash."

"I'll keep that in mind," I hollered into the wind, my words quickly blown back into my face.

Truth was, whizzing in my neoprene bodysuit was the least of my worries. I was standing at the edge of the roiling Atlantic in Montauk, New York. Clouds covered the sliver of a moon, the chilly October night as black as the bottom of a well. In a few minutes I would follow Melnyk into the ocean.

We planned to lie on our backs, fishing rods held under our arms, and kick our way three hundred yards offshore. Once there, we would float on the current that ran parallel to the beach, casting live eels for striped bass. After we were carried for a half mile or so, we would kick back to where we started and begin the drift again. Melnyk, a Montauk local who invented this form of angling, calls it skishing (a cross between skiing and fishing, since large stripers often towed him like a water-skier). As one guide told me before my skishing adventure, Melnyk was on "the extreme end of extreme."

The night before our trip, a surf fisherman, with both feet on shore, had landed a fifty-pound striper, and Melnyk wanted to best that mark. He was sure the fish was an indication of a school of trophy striped bass in the area. There was no turning back. We huddled behind a large dune to zip our wet suits and run through an equipment check. Head-lamp? Check. Whistle? Check. Pliers? Check. Knife? Check.

"If a shark grabs me, I expect you to fight him off with your knife," said Melnyk, trying to loosen up the situation. His levity was lost on me. I knew enough about the area to realize that the threat of sharks was no joke. A little more than a decade back, a Montauk charter boat had landed a monstrous great white (seventeen feet, 3,427 pounds) that had been snacking on a dead whale not far from the point, and just that summer a fourteen-foot mako had been pilfering stripers from the ends of fishermen's lines and ramming boats near Cape Cod. Up and down the East Coast, 2001 had been the summer of the shark.

There were also rip currents, some of which ran at eight knots. If we got caught in the wrong place, we would be shot out into the ocean as if on a water-park ride.

"Let's do this before I chicken out," I said.

"Okay. Remember, this is a shore break. It's dangerous surf. These waves can pick you up and slam you on the beach. It'll ruin your week. Once we clear them it's easy sailing -- make that kicking."

We waded in. The surf zone was a cauldron of white water, and beyond it the sea's lumps melded with the sky. When the water reached our knees, we dropped on our backs and pulled on our flippers. With the waves rushing to shore, it was a clumsy endeavor, and twice I rolled face first into the water before succeeding.

"Ready?" yelled Melnyk.

"Ready."

"Kick, kick, kick, kick."

When my flippers gained purchase, I zipped ahead into the wash.

"Stay with me, Dave."

We were kicking side by side when the first breaker rushed over us. I swallowed a mouthful of seawater and bobbed to the surface. Melnyk hooted with delight. The next wave lifted me up and carried me tumbling back where I'd started.

"Come on, Dave. Kick, kick, kick!" coaxed Melnyk. I gathered myself and pushed off again. In less than thirty seconds we were out of the surf, rising and falling on the choppy waves of the ocean. At fifty-six degrees, the water breaching our wet suits was breath-stealing.

"Is this living or what?" screamed Melnyk. "We're on the edge, man."

"How much farther?"

"About a hundred kicks."

On the crest of each wave I could see the shore. TV sets were flashing muted blues and reds in the windows of the beach motels above the dunes. I found myself envious of the occupants, who had little fear of disappearing into the Atlantic. Suddenly there was a surface commotion just in front of our heads, like a broom slapping the water. "Just a flock of sea ducks riding out the weather," said Melnyk. "We probably scared the shit out of them."

"Likewise."

Eventually Melnyk yelled, "We're here, man." We stopped kicking. The thick wet suits provided enough buoyancy to keep us chest high in the gin-clear water. I flipped my headlamp on; it illuminated a circle in front of me, the strobe reaching toward the bottom. I could see my purple flippers flexing as I flutter-kicked to stabilize myself. I wondered what could see me from below, and inched closer to Melnyk.

Melnyk kept each eel in an individual sandwich-size Ziploc bag for easy handling. He passed one to me. It squirmed within its plastic confines as I hooked it through the jaw. With the hook in place I pulled hard, ripping the bag and freeing the eel. It danced on the end of my line. If I didn't cast soon, it would tie itself and the line into a slimy knot.

I turned my light off. Melnyk already had his eel in the water. He was floating about ten feet from me. His black neoprene hood combined with his surf rod rising from the surface made him look like a seagoing knight, his trusty steed a sea creature from Proteus's flock. As I went to cast, Melnyk's rod quivered, then bent deeply. He reared back on the fish, then yelled, "Oh baby, they're here."

On the Run
An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast
. Copyright © by David DiBenedetto. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Good book

    Great book. Tells a story about both the angler and the bass.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2008

    On The Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast

    On The Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast is a great entertaining book by David DiBenedetto. It follows the happenings and events of a fisherman down the striper coast, following the fall migration. It's a very entertaining book, with stories and events. If you are a fellow fisherman, let alone a striper fisherman, you will appreciate this book. Once you pick it up, it will be hard to put down. You can easily become engrossed in the stories, that you actual feel like you are there. If you are looking for an informational book on striped bass fishing, tips, techniques, tackle, etc., this is not the book. You can pick up some of these things from the book, but it's more of a story as a fisherman follows the striped bass migration from North to South. A very good book, and great gift for the fisherman in your life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2003

    Striper fever? Get it....

    If you read the Daignault books and like them, you will most likely enjoy this as well. There isn't ANY 'how to' is this book, it is almost entirely about the places and characters of the East Coast striper scene. What makes the book work is that the author is doing what all of us daydream about... taking off the entire fall to fish stripers from Maine down to the Carolinas. What could be cooler then that? The only two negatives I would mention are the author's writing style grinds on your nerves a bit (One route 'morphs' into another, you get the idea...) and some areas of the striper coast are mostly passed by. For example, the NJ chapter is mostly about Atlantic City and hunting down Al McReynolds. Nothing about Shrewsbury Rocks, IBSP, The Cape. Rhode Island, for being a fantastic fishery, also gets mostly passed by. If you feel pasionately about one stretch of beach or another, you may feel a bit let down. Anyway, if you can't be out in the surf, sit and read this one to pass the time...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews

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