On The Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast
By David DiBenedetto (235pp., Pub. By William Morrow of Harper-Collins Publishers, NY,2003)
I’m not a fisherman. I worked on fishing boats for several years, served as mate, even ran as relief skipper, but working fourteen fishing trips a week doesn’t make one a fisherman any more than driving a car 10,000 miles a year makes one a mechanic. So I even asked myself why I was reading a fishing book. In the end, if I was reading it as a fisherman, I would probably have taken slightly more pleasure from it, but only by a small degree. After all, it’s the water that ties us all together---fisherman, cruiser, sailor, paddler. We all respond in the same way to the wind and waves, the sound of rushing, cascading water, the distinct scent in the air, the soft, pastel sunrises and sometimes gaudy splashes of color in the evening twilight over a broad uninterrupted horizon. There was plenty to identify with and find pleasure in even for a non-fisherman.
The author started in the Bay of Fundy between Maine and Nova Scotia. For three months he followed the fall migration of the striped bass or rockfish as it traveled south to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Part of the story was about the fish, its life, trials for survival, and what makes it unique in its lure for fisherman. The rest of the story was about the fishermen themselves and how they travel thousands of miles, go weeks on end with virtually no sleep, and risk life and limb to pursue a fish that more and more have learned to respect enough that they merely hook and release most of the fish.
Talk to any fisherman, and sooner rather than later the tale will be about the BIG ONE. Well, as of 2003, the big one was 78 lbs. 8 oz. Between sweepstakes winnings and tackle manufacturer endorsements, the fish made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most valuable game fish at $3,200 a pound. You would think such a prize would make the fisherman a folk hero. Instead it brought him more ill will, personal attacks, and squabbles over money than he could have ever imagined, and nearly ruined his life. When asked how he would handle it if he caught another one like it or bigger, he said he’d pull it up far enough to take its picture, and cut the line.
Whether you are an avid fisherman, or don’t even like the taste of fish, if you enjoy the water and being around it, you’ll enjoy this book.