University, in New Brunswick, N.J., the investigator accepted more papers from
Dr. James R. Westman who, in addition to teaching classes as Drs. Merriman and
Raney do, was engaged in continuing research into the striper along the New
Jersey coast. Dr. Westman added a new word to describe the striper: "He is
a challenge fish. Because of his highly selective eating habits, the striper
and the fisherman engage in a battle of wits for which the rules are constantly
changing. What is true today about the striper's feeding habits may be
completely false tomorrow."
Back in New York
the investigator remembered another professor. This was a professor
(self-appointed) of surf casting. His name was Jerry Jansen, and for three
years he had been conducting a school of surf casting on Second Avenue on
In his apartment
in Greenwich Village, Professor Jansen spoke on his favorite subject:
artificial lures. He described the darting and the swimming and the popping
plugs and the tin jigs (see pages 48-49) that have been devised to fool the
striper. He exhibited his collection. Turning to a young striper addict,
26-year-old Mort Urovsky, a visitor, he invited him to express an opinion.
fishing," said Mort, "is man attempting to achieve something with
self-imposed limitations. You can catch a striper in a net. You can also reach
the top of Mount Everest in a helicopter."
said Mrs. Jansen suddenly from a corner of the room, "looks at a striper in
exactly the same way that a woman looks at a mink coat."
A few days later
the investigator reeled from a smoke-filled room, his head screaming with
striper lore. These things he had read of the striper:
He has other
names. The scientists refer to him as Roccus saxatilis, which means, literally,
the fish that dwells among rocks. In Maryland and to the south of Maryland he
is called rock or rockfish. In the north and on the Pacific coast fishermen
call him the striper. Years ago he was also known as greenhead and squid
He has been
around longer than the United States of America. In the year 1635 William Wood
wrote of him in New England's Prospect: "The basse is one of the best
fishes in the country...the way to catch them is with hooke and line; the
Fisherman taking a great cod-line, to which he fasteneth a peece of lobster and
throwes it into the sea, the fish biting at it he pulls her to him and knockes
her on the head with a sticke...."
The striper is
found along the Atlantic coast from the St. Lawrence to Florida and in the Gulf
of Mexico from Florida to Louisiana. In 1879 and 1882 stripers were
transplanted over land in tanks to the West Coast and deposited in San
Francisco Bay. They thrived and multiplied there and are an important game fish
today from southern California to Oregon.
In color, the
striper varies from green to steel blue that pales to silver on the sides and
to dead white on the belly. Sometimes he has a bronze or brassy look. Always he
has seven or eight pronounced dark stripes running from head to tail on the