“Surfcasting Around The Block II” is here!

Surfcasting Around The Block II — Forty Years of Striped Bass Surfcasting Stories, Articles and Legends from the Islands of Block and Aquidneck is on the shelves! Dennis Zambrotta’s much-anticipated follow-up to his out-of-print classic Surfcasting Around The Block is actually a group effort with multiple contributing authors — many of them Block Island surfcasting legends. Although the focus is on fishing the island with spinning gear, the astute fly caster will be able to glean a treasure trove of information on fishing the island.

Sitting in my favorite reading chair, looking for intel from Campo, McKenna, Abate, Winters, and that Zambrotta guy…

And yes, there are two chapters devoted to fly fishing Block Island authored by yours truly. The first part is a story about a particularly memorable Block Island All-Nighter. The second covers gearing up for fly fishing on Block Island. Where can you get Surfcasting Around The Block II (ISBN979-8-218-07120-2)? The Saltwater Edge. The Island Bound Bookstore. And The Surfcaster. Happy reading!

What a football of a Block Island bass! This is a really good story. I think you’re going to like it.

More “Surfcasting Around The Block II” news

I almost forgot — I’m be contributing another chapter to Dennis Zambrotta’s followup to “Surfcasting Around The Block.” It will be a brief chapter on what you need gear-wise to fly fish the island. Of course I’ll have my own opinions, but my goal, as always, is to help you get the most out of your fishing experience. I believe Dennis is hoping for a late fall publish date.

You can be sure I’ll mention a good pack, a shooting basket, and a floating line. And a headlamp that has a red light!

Put it in the book! (Surfcasting Around the Block)

I’m pleased to say that I’ve completed and submitted my chapter to Dennis Zambrotta’s followup to Surfcasting Around The Block. I like what I wrote. Dennis likes what I wrote. I’m hoping you will, too. You’ll have questions, of course, like when’s the book coming out (don’t know) and can you tell us what you wrote about (nope, you’ll have to wait, but it’s a really good story). Speaking of writing about stripers, I just finished a piece for Surfcaster’s Journal magazine. It’s something I wrote a very long time ago, revisited, re-wrote (about 10 times), polished up, and now you’ll finally get to read it. It’s another good one (he said modestly). Now, if I can only find some time to fish…

Here it is: a map that shows all my secret Block Island fishing spots.

Best of 2020 #9: Contributing to DZ’s upcoming Block Island book

As more and more fly fishing magazines wither and die, I find myself looking for new ways to contribute to the ancient art of print. (I have some exciting ideas that I may announce in 2021.) Sometimes those opportunities materialize seemingly out of nowhere. Like when Toby Lapinski asked me to contribute to The Fisherman magazine (new articles coming in 2021). Or when Dennis Zambrotta asked me to write a fly fishing chapter for his followup to Surfcasting Around The Block. As it turns out, I may be writing a couple pieces. I love Block. I love Dennis’ first book. And I’m loving writing for the followup. (Here’s the original post in case you missed it.)

I love all striped bass, but there is something wondrous about holding one in the sacred waters of Block Island.

Block Island Stripers From The Shore


“Block Island Stripers From The Shore” first appeared in the October/November/December 2016 issue of Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide — sadly, the last issue of this regional gem. I consider Block Island to be sacred fishing ground. Some of my favorite fly fishing memories have been created along its shoreline.

My grandparents had an old map of Block Island in their basement. To my young eyes, it looked like a pirate treasure map from a story book. (I wasn’t too far off – the notorious Captain Kidd was known to frequent the island and its waters.) Then, there was the curious name. Why Block? It was shaped more like a pork chop than a cube. (I would later learn the island was named for Dutch explorer Adrien Block.) It was small enough to be charming (7 miles long and 3 miles wide, situated 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island) yet substantial enough to have been around since the last ice age.

Then there were the magical names of its shoreline and landmarks: Pots and Kettles. Rodman’s Hollow. Black Rock. It all sounded like a fanciful netherworld inhabited by wizards and elves.

The wondrous reality is that from May through November, Block Island is home to Morone saxatillis. And if the year, moon, and tides align, you can reasonably expect an unforgettable encounter with a striped bass on the fly from the shore.

A feisty Block Island school bass taken on a dead drift using a small, sparse sand eel pattern.



Where to fish. Finding a place to fish on Block Island is a good news-good news scenario: many possibilities, ample public access. You can find most of these spots on an online map. Note that there is no camping on Block Island, and no sleeping in vehicles.

Crescent Beach stretches several miles north from the ferry landing in town to Mansion Beach. The sandy bottom makes it a popular place for sight fishing. Some people bring ladders, but most anglers are content to walk and wet wade. Mornings – the beach crowds start building around 11am – and late afternoons are the best times to try your hand at stalking a cruising fish. If you see a substantial number of bass during the day, it usually means they’ll be around at night, too.

You’ll find structure, waves, and current like this along much of the island’s shoreline.



Sandy Point is the spit that juts out from the northern tip of the island. Currents from Long Island Sound and Cow Cove smash together, creating the dangerous – and sometimes deadly – North Rip. This is the place where Block Island angling legend Ben Lubell lost his life in the early 1980s. Take a lesson from Ben, and never wade in the North Rip. Stay out of the water and the wash at Sandy Point.

Those same lethal currents can also make for great fishing, acting as a conveyor belt that delivers helpless bait to waiting mouths. Local historians will tell you that Cow Cove got its name when the island’s first settlers forced their cattle to swim ashore there. Noted author and fly tyer Ken Abrames says with a smile that the name really comes from the size of the stripers that have been taken there over the years.

The Great Salt Pond was once a brackish, landlocked lake. A channel was dug in 1895. The pond offers the fly fisher a rich diversity of angling opportunities, from shallow flats to deep water drop-offs to pinch-points to river-like currents. The channel at the Coast Guard Station, also known as the Cut, is the most popular fishing spot on the island. However, popular doesn’t always mean best, and parking is often limited.

West Side. Charlestown Beach runs along the middle of the west side of the island. When it’s on, gird yourself for a bad case of striper thumb. The largest blitzes I’ve experienced on Block Island – both in numbers and pounds per fish –have taken place along Charlestown Beach. The West Side is also home to Grace’s, Dorie’s, and Cooneymus Coves. All are rocky bars that are in fly rod range at high tide.

South Side. The stretch from Black Rock Beach to Mohegan Bluffs features the kind of rocky structure that stripers like to frequent. However, both surf and prevailing winds can be a challenge to fly casters.

Some final words of advice and caution: never fish an area you’re unfamiliar with at night. Reconnoiter it first in daylight at the same tide you’ll be fishing. Don’t venture out in rough surf. And fish with a friend.

Flies and gear. Sand eels, squid, and silversides are the predominant inshore baits, so bring plenty of flies that match their action and profile. Sand eels start out small – 2” or less in early June – and grow as the summer progresses. I favor sparse, impressionistic patterns like Ken Abrames’ Eelie and Big Eelie. I tie the Big Eelie in a wide range of color combinations, from the original white/yellow/olive/blue to blue/black/purple. I make them about 4 ½” long, and stripers relish them all. It’s hard to go wrong with any simple, slim-profile baitfish pattern.

I’ve caught more Block Island stripers on the Big Eelie than any other pattern. This is the fly’s original color scheme.



It’s not uncommon to find both smaller (2”-3” long) and larger squid in the Great Salt Pond. And while I’ve never done very well using big flies on the Block, I always bring some foot-long eel patterns, because one day I’m going to find that 50-pounder. Crab and shrimp flies designed for bonefish will also work quite well on Block Island’s flats.

Bring your favorite one- or two-handed rod. As with any island, expect windy conditions, and match your rod accordingly. The water I fish is typically 2 to 8 feet deep. A floating line gives me the option of presenting from the surface to the bottom in most places. I always bring my full-sink integrated line in case it’s insanely windy or I want to fish a deep channel.

Waders and studded boots are essential gear for navigating the rocky shores and jetties of Block Island. Lightweight and comfortable boots will make that one-mile slog down the beach a little more endurable. Keep in mind that Block Island is surrounded by cool water for much of the summer; you’re probably going to need a jacket at night. Use a personal flotation device and carry a compass – Block Island can get Transylvania horror movie foggy.

And for those rare nights when the wind lies down and the air is still, make sure you have a generous supply of effective bug spray. The no see-ums on Block Island are torturous.

When to fish. Every year is different, and as east coast striper stocks have ebbed and flowed, so has the fishing on Block Island. In the previous four years I have caught as many as 75 bass over 8 nights, and as few as 4. There’s no way to predict which island you’re going to get.

While you can certainly catch Block Island stripers in daylight, Ray Charles put it rather eloquently when he sang, “night time is the right time.” Because most of the water I fish is shallow, I favor the dark of the moon or cloud-covered nights. Of course, the best time to go fishing is when you can. Catching or merely fishing, Block Island is a unique and beautiful location – and you’ll quickly understand why it was named by the Nature Conservancy as one of the “Last Great Places.”

Why I love fishing at night. This striper was part of a school of 10 to15-pound fish that set up on a shallow cobble-bottomed bar to ambush bait.





Striper Report 4/3/15: Fifty Shades of Skunk

If you read your Bible, or if you’ve been paying attention in church over the years, you know that St. Peter had two jobs. I don’t know how good a fisherman he was, but I like that he fished for a living. I’ve gotten it into my head that given Peter’s involvement in the crucifixion, Good Friday is an appropriate day to honor him by going fishing. Striper fishing, specifically. So I’ve been doing that for years now.

With our prolonged winter and spring’s current refusal to make a proper stand on the issue of warm and sunny, I figured it would be a little early to find linesiders at Ye Olde Striper Spot. But you don’t know if you don’t go. Besides, I could shake off the big rod casting rust. And there was that EP Carrillo Golossos I had been saving.

Rain and wind, followed by mist and fog and utter calm. You could probably count fifty shades of grey here, but the only spanking was handed out by the bass. 50 Shades of Grey

The water was loaded with organic flotsam: leaves and sticks and bark and reeds. I was surprised to see 42 degrees on my thermometer. No bass that I could find, nor any reported by the three other anglers who had the good sense to leave ninety minutes before I did. But I was glad that they left, because I got to fish in this gorgeous greyness all by myself. Well, just me and St. Peter.

Yes, it was wet out there. I love Ken Abrames’ RLS Easterly color scheme (grey, silver, peacock, and a touch of fluorescent yellow) on days like this. A little color goes a long way. The fly is a sparse, soft-hackled flatwing.  Rod-Fly-Grey

Block Island Mini-Report: We’re back, baby

Just returned from a week on my favorite island, and I’m pleased to report that after three sub-standard years, the Block is back! The traditional Block Island Diary will of course be written, but until then here’s a snapshot of the action:

Seven nights (even Friday as Arthur scurried away)

One skunking (thanks, Arthur!)

One broken rod tip (stupid human error)

Two one-bass nights (one of the fish a 15-20 pounder)

Two under-a-dozen-bass nights

Two off-the-charts-dozens-of-bass nights.

Sand eels were the predominant bait, about 2-3″ long, and very fragile. Biolume in the water, which was 63 degrees. New moon to Q1. Fished both incoming and outgoing tides. Fished open ocean and the pond. Fished some new secret spots. Had more water to myself than I’ve ever experienced. A most excellent week.

The Yellow Kittens, Old Glory, and a Fourth of July rainbow.

Kittens Rainbow

Block Island All-Nighter VIII: All by my(our)self

This year’s Block Island All-Nighter played out a little differently than in years past. Once I found out I would be flying solo, I decided to ask my 11 year-old, Cam, if he would like to go. He was all over it. I think he liked the idea of heading off for an overnight as much as he did the chance to go fishing. But I really didn’t care what his motivations were. It would be nice to have his company.

The last two BIANs were busts. My intel on the Island had warned me of epically slow fishing in the last week — “Be prepared to tour the Island to find fish” was the mandate. For a time, it looked like BIAN VIII would crap out. Then, a trickle of fish. And suddenly, the heavens opened and the light — hell, it was more of a beacon — of good bass fortune shined upon us. Here’s a little timeline and some photos from our adventure.

6pm-8:30pm: Take the six o’clock boat over to the Island. The surface is flat as a dinner plate. Speaking of dinner, no better way to start a BIAN off than with the fried scallop platter from Finn’s, washed down with an IPA draft.

My stash for the evening. You’re thinking, “Steve, why would you bring so many cigars?” Just in case. Someone might ask for one. Someone might deserve one for sharing the water. Or, on a dead-calm night like this one, I might forget my bug spray and be inundated by millions of biting no-see-ums. There’s no mention of cigars as bug repellant in the Boy Scout Manual. But this ex-scout was indeed prepared.



No Fisherman’s IPA this year, so we went with Loose Cannon. Another hop bomb with some nice fruity notes.



8:30pm-11pm: We arrive at the spot. It is mobbed. Like, we get the last place to park mobbed. Not to worry, I tell Cam. It’ll empty out in short order. Witnessed: The largest, longest school of sand eels I’ve seen on the Block since 2007. The bait was smaller than normal for this time of year: matchstick to 2″ long. But scads of them. And then some. The water looked like it had a moving, breathing oil spill beneath its surface. Cam fishing with a 1/2 oz. bucktail jig bangs up some fluke. Dad goes touchless. We walk to another spot. Dad’s proven fish-producing spot. There, Cam, you see? A couple bass rising. We display our wares to them. Nothing. Hmm. Not usually how things play out on the Block. We borrowed some bug spray for Cam, but he’s still getting pummeled. Cam announces he’s tired and is ready for nap #1. We start the long walk back to the truck. Looks like it’s going to be one of those nights.

11pm-1am: The stars! What a galaxy we live in. The air so calm I can blow smoke rings. The ocean is still mirror flat. So flat that I can easily see those rise rings thirty feet off shore. Multiple active feeders. I tell Cam his nap plans have been placed in a holding pattern. I’m going to cast to some fish. They seem oblivious to my fly. No wonder. There are enough sand eels here to feed every striper in Rhode Island. I connect with a few, and let Cam reel in a couple. At midnight he decides to call it. I keep fishing and catch a half-dozen or so more. This is already better than most of the last two years.

And I have no idea what’s coming.

Tight lines with the long rod. Cam has a knack for getting stripers in quick. No wonder. Look at the angle of the rod. I may have reinforced fighting the fish off the reel and the butt, but he basically taught himself. 



One of Cam’s prizes. Most of the bass from the first part of the evening were in the 18″-24″ range. Block Island remains the only place I’ll put a sub-double-digit pounds striper on the reel.



1am-3am: I’m walking along the beach, trying to decide where to fish, when the decision is made for me. A squadron of seagulls are milling about the water’s edge, chattering excitedly. Bass have the sand eels trapped and are picking them off with gusto. The gulls are cleaning up the leftovers. All I need to do is choose a rise ring, lay my fly over it, then start stripping. Sometimes the fly barely has a chance to get wet before the glassy surface is shattered and I’m on. It is a school of good stripers, ten-to-fifteen pound range, and every one of them came tonight to eat. For the better part of 90 minutes, the action is non-stop. It’s like striper fantasy camp. It’s so intense that I wonder how much longer it — or I — can go on. One fish obliterates the fly — this one’s over 30 inches — and as it rolls on the surface it spooks what look like another dozen stripers the same size.

Best of all, what I predicted earlier has come to pass. There isn’t another soul on the beach.

A 15 pound Block striper, classic big shoulders, belly full of bait. I know, fish on sand is not ideal. I risked this one for a photo; all her sisters were lipped and released within safe confines of the ocean.



The white cavern, the last thing a sand eel sees before it disappears into the void.



3am-6:30am: This time of year, the first glimmer of light appears in the east around 3:45am. I fished hard in those first forty-five minutes because I could sense I was running out of steam. I continued to walk along the beach, targeting active feeders. The bass seemed to get more aggressive as the sun’s disc neared the horizon; several times I had fish on as soon as the fly hit the water. By five I was done. I chatted up a a few anglers on the walk out, and presented a fly to a gentleman who proudly told me that today was his 81st birthday. After rinsing down our equipment, we headed into town to wait for Ernie’s to open. Breakfast is going to be glorious.

The pre-dawn crescent moon accompanied by the morning star. If you look closely just to the left of center, you can a see the remnants of a rise ring.



Geez Louise. I gotta be more careful with that belt sander.


6:30am-8am: Breakfast. Three pancakes for Cam. Pancakes and eggs for dad. Bacon for both. Off to the dock. Delirious from lack of sleep. Or all those stripers.

I can’t remember which.

Cindy Loo-Who has been punching my car ticket for decades now. Our meetings are always bittersweet: “Hello, old friend,” combined with the melancholy of leaving my favorite Island.



Block Island Diary 2013: Hey! I Remember You. (Kindof.)

If you’ve followed my previous Block Island Diaries, you know that the last two years of fly fishing from the shore have been – ahem – underwhelming. Used to be, a good night on the Block was a dozen stripers. An off night, two or three, with an odd visit from the skunk tossed in to keep you honest. But in 2011, I took only six bass in seven nights. Last year, a measly four bass. Buoyed by a strong 2012 fall run in Rhode Island and an equally impressive 2013 spring migration here in Connecticut, I ventured once again to the magical land of the Manisses.

Saturday: Red Right Return

There’s a reason Luke Skywalker doesn’t blow up the Death Star at the beginning of Star Wars. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of manufactured drama in non-fiction. You get what the fates throw at you. And what I got tonight was a good old-fashioned summer blockbuster climax. It was so humid it felt like you could grab handfuls of air. Low clouds and fog banks whipped past, accentuating an already mysterious setting. Five casts in, and I had my first bass of the trip, a porcine twenty-one-incher that went immediately on the reel. Twenty minutes later, I’d already caught more stripers here than I did all last year. Halleluiah! These bass were gathered for one purpose: to eat with extreme prejudice. Sand eels were the entree, and I could hear them plink-ploinking through the water as I waded. There were stripers everywhere, and they attacked my fly, a Big Eelie in a Crazy Menhaden color scheme, with undisciplined fury. Missed strikes were frequently followed by punishing returns. Without a sealed drag, the moisture in the air and an occasional dip in the water reduced my reel to a shadow of its locked-down-tight self. Once hooked, the bass were off to the races, and I did my best to palm the reel. My knuckles took a beating as the handle repeatedly whacked them, but it was a good hurt, and I laughed at my clumsiness. The commotion I created sent several spin and fly anglers scurrying over to join the fray. By some perverse twist they all caught few or no fish. Some muttered as they left, and others departed with a palpably grim silence. Twice I told myself I would give the spot a rest and seek my pleasures elsewhere. Twice a fifteen-pound fish talked me out of it. The action slowed only when Mr. Boating Dipstick 2013 set a course for the wrong side of the channel marker – despite his blazing, brilliant spotlight – and momentarily hit the sandbar. But that was the only wrinkle in an otherwise flawless night. When it was over, my thumb looked like a pound of ground chuck under cellophane. My fly had been surgically reduced to a couple hackles and some forlorn strands of bucktail. Even when I tried to stop fishing, I couldn’t. I caught a legal fish just reeling in my line. One of the stalwart souls still on the beach called out to me. “Are you leaving?” Yep, I’ve had enough. “How many did you get?” I don’t really know. I stopped counting after fifteen. “You had some big fish there.” At least a half dozen in the 15-pound range. “Can I see what fly you were using?” Absolutely. “Wow. That’s it? It doesn’t even have eyes” Nope. Here, take this fly, and this one too. Color doesn’t matter. Good luck to you! Then I began the long walk back to the truck. As I trudged through the sand, I switched on my headlamp, and basked in the warm red glow of an absolutely righteous return.

Any night filled with ten to fifteen pound stripers doesn’t suck. I know, I know, it’s not the most fish-friendly photo. If it makes anyone feel better, I lipped the rest.


That’s gonna leave a mark. The price of admission for a dozens-of-bass outing. 


Sunday: The five most feared words in fly fishing

My friend Bill arrived on the Island today, and I’ve been regaling him with tales of gluttonous bass, buckets of bait and thumb-wrecking action. Word travels fast about a good bite, and the parking lot is mobbed. The weather and the wind are a carbon copy of last night. All we have to do is wait for dark and a little more of that flood tide. Unfortunately, there are more anglers than bait. Or stripers. Plenty of skates, though, in thick and beaching themselves, wings flailing away, frantically slapping against the sand. The wind picks up in intensity, and brings with it brief tropical downpours. I can see a light grey band in the skies over Block Island sound, then a foreboding line of India inkiness over the mainland. In the end, the bite never materialized. I managed a single bass by moving around and fan casting with a black, blue, and purple Big Eelie I call the Bruiser. I couldn’t blame Bill when he bailed after the second squall came through. As he walked off I called out to him, “You shoulda been here yesterday!”

Until someone brews up Silver Stoat Stout, Todd’s Norway Ale, or Flyrodder Lager, I’m still the only dude in my crew with his own label. (“The Fisherman” is my internet forum nom de voyage.)


Monday: Gettin’ jiggy wid it

The wind is banshee bitch, even more so than the previous two outings. The fishing’s about the same as last night, possibly a degree less of suckiness: three fluke in about 90 minutes of fan casting over an expansive flat. Einstein’s definition of insanity being what it is, I decided to go for a wade along some shallows that border rocky structure. I spooked a fluke, then saw some suspicious upheaval on the surface about 50 feet away. I climbed up onto a rock to investigate. Three casts and two bass later, I had my answer. The fish were standard-issue Block Island mid-twenties schoolies, which is to say that they were rotund, powerful swimmers that went on the reel. Not much else going on, and I was in bed by 2am. While I was sleeping, Ravi, who works at the Block Island Fishworks, was jigging for squid in New Harbor. At 3:30am, he hooked a squid, which moments later was swallowed by a 31-pound cow. He said her stomach was full of calamari, from 2” to over a foot long. Now, which box do I keep those Banana Squid flies in?

When the fishing’s slow, you look for ways to amuse yourself. Here’s my attempt at an abstract: a long exposure of boat masts swaying in the wind, accentuated by a rogue fireworks shell burst.


Tuesday: A very deep trough

Nothing. I fished the snot out this Island tonight, and nothing. Nothing at the Saturday night heroics spot. Nothing at my favorite jetty. Nothing at Charlestown Beach. (Not that five minutes of beleaguered casting in hellacious 20mph crosswinds counts for much.) Bill came back out tonight, and I talked him into trying a spot on the west side I’d never fished before. We were sheltered from the wind by a kindly bluff, but it’s generally a bad idea to wade out into unknown waters at night, even if you scouted them from the shore in the daylight hours. Bill gave it 15 minutes, but he just wasn’t feeling it, and after he left I got the standing-in-the-ocean-at-night-by-myself-catching-nothing blues. The visibility was so poor that I couldn’t even make out the horizon. All it took was one good gut-high wave to knock me off the rock I was standing on. Off to more clement waters, where, of course, I caught nothing. There was the mystery of the glow-in-the dark shooting basket to keep me entertained, though. I noticed that at odd intervals, the inside of my basket would glow a dull red. It was a puzzlement until I realized it coincided exactly with each draw I took on my cigar.

Yup. That about sums it up.


Follow the fish. If only finding stripers was this easy.


Wednesday: The natural

Tonight I’m taking my 10 year-old out with me. Last year was Cam’s first time night fishing for stripers, and although we didn’t catch any bass, he aced the outing. Whether it’s because I’m with my new fishing buddy or I’m attuned to some angling sixth-sense, I feel like we’re going to see some saxitillus tonight. Cam is fishing a 4” jig-head Sluggo, and lands a fluke in short order. We move to a different spot where Dad hooks a bass. It’s a standard-issue schoolie, but Cam is more than happy to land it on the fly rod in the misty twilight. Our last stop is the jetty. We experience our first double, although it is curiously strange that we have both hooked skates, Cam’s from the bottom and mine on the surface. We go out in a blaze of glory when I tie into a keeper bass about 70 feet away. I set the hook, and hand the rod over to Cam, who’s never fought a striper that large before, let alone on a fly rod. I take a quick picture, then clamor down the weed-covered rocks, telling Cam to let the fish run when it wants, reel it in when he doesn’t, and take his time until I can get down into the water. I’m standing at the bottom of the jetty, about to tell Cam to start getting the fish in, when I see a splash at my feet. Cam’s already beaten the striper, and there it is, waiting to be lipped. I got goose bumps when I realized that he’d landed his first keeper bass a lot quicker than his old man did.

A portrait of the artist as a young man, focusing on the job at hand and doing his father proud.


Thursday: Fireworks cancelled due to fog

And the bass followed suit. At least for me they did. We all put our waders on one leg at a time, and tonight I’m living proof. Everything that could go wrong did. Everyone caught a striper but me. It’s not much fun when you’re going through it. At least afterward you have the comfort of humorous remembrance. Things started poorly when I drove a spot on the east side that was on lockdown – and they were catching fish. No room at the inn, so I drove to the west side where my line repeatedly insisted on wrapping itself around my rod. Literally sprinted a hundred yards down the beach after an angler reported blitzing fish on a sand bar – and found nothing. To make matters worse, I was wearing my stubborn hat tonight. I stayed out way too late. At least the birds weren’t singing by the time I drifted off into the fog of sleep.

Fortunately, there’s nothing in Chapter 10, Section 9 about carrying a cold one out on a jetty.


Friday: Right where he’s supposed to be

It’s good practice for any serious striper angler to know a spot – and know it cold. I’ve fished the Island long enough now to have a certain level of competency. I have a mental index of where to fish at what tide, wind direction, moon, etc. Tonight I had my heart set on catching a striper at X. There were a few problems with my plan. X is generally a two-hours-either-side-of-the-flood spot. Tonight was fireworks night with the family. That would put me there well into the third hour of the dropping tide. The best I could do would be to have the truck pre-loaded so I could make tracks even as the finale’s last boom! was echoing across the hills. There was enough bait in the water to keep me hopeful, even after a fruitless fifteen minutes of casting. Then, bump! Missed him. Mortal depression. This being such a mercurial week, that might be my only touch of the night. But somewhere out there, in the rapidly fading twilight, I could hear the mischief of a bass feeding. I couldn’t quite place him; there was enough wind chop to make sighting the rise rings impossible. Bump! He hit it again. I let the fly sit there. Gave it a short strip. Bump! What gives? Must be a small fish. Another strip. Whack! Got him now, a silvery ten-pound striper that was the perfect fish in a perfect place at a perfect time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to embrace the concept of, “I don’t need to be right.” But oh my goodness, sometimes it feels so damn good when I am.

A perfect fish. Just what I needed to close out the week. As tradition dictates, taken on a Big Eelie in the original colors.


Block Island All-Nighter VII: Ode To A Sleepless Night (with apologies to Robert Frost et al)

Every year in June, we head out to Block Island for the annual all-nighter. Small posse this year, consisting of a skeleton crew of your humble scribe and Dr. Griswold. Staying up all night striper fishing can be challenging, even when the bass are on. When the bite is off, like this year, it can be downright excruciating. Perhaps a little poetry will help ease the pain. And so, without further ado…

On Father’s Day it was decreed
That Bob and Steve would do this deed:
A journey to the Island Block
To fish for stripers ‘round the clock.
At 8pm our trip begins
With deep fried scallops fresh from Finns
Steaming hot, and by the way
Most tasty with an IPA.
Thus fortified, we hit the beach
To see if stripers were in reach
On my third cast I felt a chew
Alas! Fly gone. A freakin’ blue.
With toothies out I thought it wise
To tie on last year’s game-used flies
At 10pm right on the dot
I moved to fish another spot.
The hit was solid, hard and strong
The big bass’ run was nice and long
She tugged and pulled, I ‘bout fell back
In horror when my line went slack.
I reeled in to have a look:
You’re kidding, right? She broke my hook!
That’s what I get, such foolish settle
On older, tarnished, fragile metal.
Another bass took in a trough,
But moments later, he was off
‘Twas then I had but just one wish
Dear Lord, can I please land a fish?
Finally, there’s a striper hit –
Missed, but he came back (the git)
Reeled him in right near my feet
But he jumped off ‘fore we could greet.
Meanwhile Bob, my friend, poor sap
Had not even got a single tap
I wondered to myself, what’s worse?
No bites or losing fish (then curse)?
At half past one we made the call
To roll the dice, nothing or all
A place that surely would produce
Striped bass instead of eggs de goose.
But once again, the going’s rough
At 2am Bob says that’s enough
An hour later I did agree
Besides, I was cold and had to pee.
Bob awakened from his rest
And off we went with little zest
Depression, desperation near
Another crappy fishing year?
Bob’s lone striper came at five
And plus two fluke, now he’s alive
Meantime I was catching weeds
Just one more bass! I so did plead.
Sunup – 5:30 – and that is it
Time for us to call it, quit.
Coffee, pancakes, eggs and bacon
To fill an empty stomach’s quakin’.
And so dear friends we close this rhyme
Be back next year, same place, same time
This lousy fishing’s got to end
The only question now is – when?
 Before: Unhappy Coaster.


After: Coaster and friend, a pint of Fisherman’s IPA. Delicious, and a total hop bomb.


Being a night owl, I usually miss sunup. Darn pretty, this one. You’ve been officially warned, sailor.