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Mr. Bangs looked up.
"I've had that Cuttyhunk store for 20 years," he said, "and another man had it for 50 years before me."
"Well, if I'm not mistaken," said the investigator, "you head on over there in your boat every week or so."
"I have to take over supplies, yes," said Mr. Bangs.
"Could I go with you on your next trip?"
Mr. Bangs ran his thumbs up and down behind his galluses and thought about it.
"What I want to do," said the investigator, "is talk to Coot Hall, the charter boatman, over at Cuttyhunk. I'm told he knows as much about stripers as anybody in this part of the country."
"You're not far wrong there," said Mr. Bangs. "All right. Go have your lunch and meet me down at the wharf at one o'clock. It just so happens I was planning to go to Cuttyhunk this afternoon."
Cuttyhunk is a sparse little island with scarcely a tree worthy of the name. Its population at the height of its summer season is no more than 200, and in the wintertime the head count drops to about 20. Last winter Miss Louise Haskell, the schoolteacher, had only two pupils. A visitor, looking up the steep slope from the dock, gets the impression that he is a world away from everything, but actually the old whaling port of New Bedford lies only 12 miles to the west.
Although Cuttyhunk is an important crossroads of the great migrations, many stripers, and some of the biggest ones, go no farther than Sow and P gs Reef, a graveyard of ancient ships which extends for several miles to sea off Cuttyhunk's southwest end. Stripers love its partially submerged boulders for the eels that abound among them and for the protection they afford the striper himself. It was here, off Cuttyhunk, that the world record bass, that incredible 73-pounder, was taken from a skiff back in 1913 by Charles B. Church. Only last summer, a 68-pounder was taken from a boat in the adjacent waters.