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As the Sea Coot turned into the Cuttyhunk harbor, Coot Hall throttled her down and Cutty, the dog, started barking and jumping up on the engine housing and down again as though he were directing the operation himself.
"Coot," said the investigator, "tell me this: do you consider the striped bass a fighter?"
"Not compared to some others," said Coot.
"Is he something out of this world as eating?"
"Don't ask me," said Coot. "I'm no fish eater. Some people find the striper tasty, but I wouldn't say out of this world, no."
"Well, what do you say he's got that brings people back year after year trying to catch him?"
Coot Hall eased the bass boat up against the dock and made her fast. He shed his oilskins and stowed them away in the cabin.
"What I say he's got," said Coot Hall, "is a mind of his own, and damned if anybody can ever figure it out for sure."
Next day, on the ferryboat that runs between Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole, Mass., the investigator ran into a nonstriper fisherman named James McDaniel who had his car aboard and was on his way to Nova Scotia to visit a boatyard there. The investigator briefed him on the results of his survey so far.
"In other words," said McDaniel, "you've been out with an expert surf caster, Tony Gaspar, and an expert boat fisherman, Coot Hall. Have you seen any bass?"