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THE STRIPED BASS: A DETECTIVE STORY
Gerald Holland
August 27, 1956
The investigator examined its nursery, searched its feeding grounds, cross-examined anglers and scientists. Where, he asked, is the striper?
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August 27, 1956

The Striped Bass: A Detective Story

The investigator examined its nursery, searched its feeding grounds, cross-examined anglers and scientists. Where, he asked, is the striper?

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"Be in front of the post office at 6 o'clock. I'll take you where there's stripers!"

Promptly at 6 o'clock Tony Gaspar drew up in front of the post office in his four-wheel-drive jeep, an essential piece of equipment for the surf caster who wants to reach the out-of-the-way beaches on Martha's Vineyard. The investigator climbed in.

Tony drove out the blacktop Tisbury Road and turned off on a gravel road and continued along until he came to a gate with a sign on it: "Positively no trespassing."

The gate was open and Tony drove right on through. "I've got permission," he said, "to cut through this property any time I want."

The jeep bounced along the private road until it vanished into sand. In the distance there was the sea and the faint sound of the breakers. Tony shifted gears and the jeep slipped and rocked through the sand like a boat in a gentle swell.

"Whenever I get a big striper," he said suddenly, "somebody says, 'Oh, he's just lucky!'

"There's a lot more to it than luck. Why, lots of times I'll go to a spot and never get out of the jeep. I'll just sit there sizing up the situation, looking to see if there are any slicks on the water, if the birds are feeding, the way the surf is breaking, so on and so forth. If I'm not satisfied with conditions, I'll move on to another spot. It's the same thing with Ralph and Percy and Buddy Oliver and most of the other island surf casters."

By this time the jeep had rolled into a wonderful unspoiled stretch of beach. Tony Gaspar pointed to a nest of speckled gulls' eggs and a little farther on to a nesting gull which, without twitching a feather, calmly watched the wheels of the jeep pass her by.

This was the point along the southern shore of the island that is known as the West Tisbury Opening. It is so called because there is a great freshwater pond adjoining the beach and sometimes the ocean breaks through and the bait fish flee into the fresh water and the larger fish follow them. When the opening is open (it was not this evening), the chances for bass are infinitely better.

As the jeep skidded to a stop, Tony Gaspar looked out at the pounding surf. As the investigator looked around for more gulls' nests, Tony suddenly cried out:

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