The Striped Bass: A Detective Story (SI, Aug. 27, Sept. 3) is the best fishing article that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has ever printed. Congratulations to you and to Gerald Holland.
Mr. Holland should, of course, have also spent a few days investigating Cape Cod, which is, absolutely and without question, the greatest striped bass surf fishing area in the world. Together with the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Cuttyhunk, the Cape produces more "sound barrier" (50-pound-plus bass) than any other area on the seaboard.
Dr. Merriman's belief that the striper from five to 10 pounds is as tough as any game fish will stimulate conversation among striper fishermen. Darned few striper addicts will agree. Those of us who always have sand in our ears love the bass because he is courageous, spectacular in striking—and completely unpredictable. But we know that a tarpon jumps higher, a bone-fish runs faster, a school tuna or a bluefish pulls harder. Coot Hall said it: "What I say he's got is a mind of his own...."
The inference that a majority of bass migrate to and from the Chesapeake Bay is open to argument. Readers of The Salt Water Sportsman once tagged 10,000 stripers, many of which were retaken and proved to have migrated no further than the distance from the Hudson River, New York to Connecticut's shore. Bass probably do spawn along the entire coast: certainly there are resident populations all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Maritimes. That abundance of "sea bass" mentioned by the druggist at Bar Harbor, Maine, may indeed have been an abundance of stripers.
Otto Scheer's contention that motor noise intrigues bass would surely be contradicted by surf boat anglers who fish relatively shoal water—and by charter skippers who have seen members of the outboard-powered mosquito fleet sound bass by running through them. In shoal water, at least, the sound of an outboard motor will usually scare bass into the next county.
The Detective Story is a credit to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and to Gerald Holland's ability as a fact finder and, I'm sure, a rather good fisherman. I think that you'll find a majority of salt water sportsmen in full agreement.
The Salt Water Sportsman
THE CUTTYHUNK STRIPER
There is little doubt in my mind that no place can hold a candle to Cuttyhunk when it comes to the lore and the catching of the striper. Quite apart from the fishing is the tremendous thrill of going into the surf among the rocks in a little bass boat. Working the rips around the Sow and Pigs and off Gay Head when a strong wind is blowing against the tide at night has to be experienced to appreciate the exhilaration, sharpened by a dash of fear, that one usually associates with a fast roller coaster ride at an amusement park....
I am sorry that you were not informed about the old Cuttyhunk Surf Fishing Club. The club was founded around 1851 by a group of wealthy businessmen. Although they had to be rebuilt every year after the winter storms, piers were built over the rocks to points where stripers were liable to lurk. A platform at the end of the pier had room enough for a seat, the fisherman and a boy with a bucket of lobster tails with which he baited the hooks. I saw a photograph once and, believe it or not, it showed a member fishing dressed in frock coat, wearing a derby, smoking a cigar and with a bucket of champagne beside him.
H. S. MACLEAN
New York City
"Where, indeed, was the striper?" asks Gerald Holland.
In the James River, seven miles below Richmond, Va. at Drewry's Bluff 100 yards off the east bank.
POWELL A. BENEDICT