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The Striped Bass Chronicles: The Saga of America's Great Game Fish

Overview

The striped bass sustained American colonists throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and went west with nineteenth-century pioneers. During the past one hundred years, however, Atlantic coastal stocks have been overfished three times to the brink of recreational extinction.

Today, the stripers are back in such numbers that they're the center of a saltwater fly-fishing revival. Author George Reiger recounts his own relationship to the striped bass, and traces the ...

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Overview

The striped bass sustained American colonists throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and went west with nineteenth-century pioneers. During the past one hundred years, however, Atlantic coastal stocks have been overfished three times to the brink of recreational extinction.

Today, the stripers are back in such numbers that they're the center of a saltwater fly-fishing revival. Author George Reiger recounts his own relationship to the striped bass, and traces the history of the great sport fish through such angling writers as Henry William Herbert and Robert Barnwell Roosevelt in the nineteenth century, to Joe Brooks and Lefty Kreh in more recent decades. The book also demonstrates that despite today's bounty, the striper could be heading for another collapse unless prevailing fisheries turn to better conservation policies. The Striped Bass Chronicles is a paean to a remarkable fish--and a prayer for its future.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The hitherto unsung striped bass, disparaged by anglers in favor of glamour fish like the salmon and the trout, comes into its own in this account by the author of Profiles in Saltwater Angling. There are interestingly informative bits here, like the bass's tolerance of all salinity levels, which enables it to live and reproduce in lakes as well as in oceans, and the fact that the striped bass in the Pacific are descendants of fish carried across the country from the Atlantic. But to get at these nuggets, readers must wade through a prolonged history of the fish from 1623 to the present, including problems like determining which genus it belongs to. And much of the second half of this slender volume results from Reiger's concerns with the waxing and waning of the bass population on both coasts of this country from overfishing; this part is primarily a conservationist plea. Only those deeply interested in bass fishing will want to read this book. The line drawings by the author's teenage son are effective. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A pleasantly avuncular history and reminiscence of striped- bass fishing from Field and Stream conservation editor Reiger (Heron Hill Chronicle, 1994, etc.).

The striped bass is an extremely important commercial and game fish, and it has been since colonial days, when the striper was pursued from Maine to Georgia. It was also pursued by native populations prior to European arrival. It has been fished nearly to extinction three times over the last hundred years (Reiger doesn't buy the cyclical-decline hypothesis offered by some fisheries biologists, and outlines convincing reasons why he doesn't). He shapes his story by mingling historical accounts of striped-bass fishing (fishers wield a pen as often as they handle a rod) by notables of their day—like Genio C. Scott, fashion editor and New York City's most popular fishing writer during the Civil War, and Russell Chatham, a writer and artist now living in Montana, far from striper precincts—with his own personal encounters with the fish. Each chapter concentrates on a particular striper venue, mainly along the midAtlantic Coast, but also venturing north to New England and south to the Savannah River, as well as to the West Coast and the San Francisco Bay and Monterey fisheries, which have also waxed and waned since the introduction of stripers from New Jersey in 1879. Ever the inquiring naturalist and sportsman, Reiger laces his chronicle with biological tidbits, such as how the turkey buzzard got its name, reflections on the practice of catch-and-release fishing, and the pleasures of the fly as opposed to the plug. Sadly, Reiger foresees another crash for the striped bass; the number of fish taken by recreational fishermen now rivals the commercial catch, leading to a one-two punch.

He might be out there stalking them, but no one will doubt Reiger's love of the striper after finishing this book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592288458
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

George Reiger is conservation editor of Salt Water Sportsman, conservation editor emeritus of Field & Stream magazine, and federal commissioner for the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. He is also the author of more than a dozen books on fish, fishing, and outdoor recreation, including The Complete Book of North American Waterfowling, and the Pulitzer finalist, Wanderer on My Native Shore.

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Read an Excerpt

"Striped bass own the surf. False albafcore and bluefish may charge a beach, but their frantic movements express anxiety at being in such surging, shallow water. Other species--notably weakfish in the North, and red and black drum in the South--are comfortable near shore, but they don't cruise in and out of the breakers with quite the elan of striped bass.

Bill Feinberg, my son Christopher, and I had been fishing from the beach at Deal, New Jersey, for less than ten minutes when I saw a striper's fin rise through a breaking wave. The fish continued cruising parallel to the beach even as the wave boiled into foam around it. The fin was in view for just an instant, but the fish's indifference to the sea's energy caused hair to rise on the nape of my neck. . . .

A friend and occasional angling companion, Frank Mather--who back in the 1950s developed the"M" tag used in marine researc to track pelagic gamefish--feels the striped bass is the most overrated sportfish in the world. He prefers bluefin tuna. While there's no question that tuna grow larger, swim faster, and in some other respects are more spectacular than stripers, context is everything. The same striper that wrestles and rolls in confusion when hooked from a trolled boat--especially one whose skipper only slows, but doesn't stop, the engine--will stubbornly and skillfully resist a surf fisherman's every effort to bring it ashore."--from the chapter, The Jersey Shore

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