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Beyond the Keeper
Part II
An Excerpt from The Trophy Striper
by Frank Daignault

'm not really sure how the tradition began, but the most acclaimed measure of a trophy striper is that of 50-pounds. Maybe it was a milestone that combined the right quantities of rarity and possibility. Reporting for the New York Times fall of '98 Andrea Kannapell, while interviewing Scott Parker from Montauk, quoted him about such fish: "..... a 50-pounder? he said. "I'd French-kiss it! I already told my wife, I catch a 50-pounder, you're out of bed. I'm making love to that fish for a month!"

Tackle companies have given awards for that size as with the old Ashaway Line and Twine's "Nifty Fifty Club". A New York brewery gave awards for such fish for years. And the traditional point at which most striper piscophiles run to the taxidermist is 50 pounds. At any rate, for surfcasters, 50-pounders don't come easily. We say surfcasters because, like all other surf to boat comparisons, the boaters will take ten times the fifties. The golden mark of 50 pounds has always seemed silly to me, as I have for years watched people kick the tires of their buggy in distress when the spring on the scale stopped at 49. They should have had them mounted anyway.

As with all sizes, the opportunity for such moby stripers has not remained historically constant. I don't think that 20 such fish were caught in '98 coastwide, boat and surf combined. The greatest known number was around 225 in the late 60s. And in 1966, 125 were reported, both years about 10 percent from the surf. An old Schaefer Brewery Contest report that just happened to survive my files ended the 1967 season with one 73 pounder, 12 sixty pounders, and 139 fifty pounders. Just prior to when the fishery crashed, there was a historically important season in 1981 during which more 50 pounders were caught than ever before. But the brewery that once had maintained such records, criticized for rewarding the slaughter of our biggest stripers, had stopped awarding and stopped counting. So no one knows how many monsters were taken during perhaps the biggest year in striper fishing history. Examining old records of some of the striper clubs of the time, top club fish varied from 42 to 45 pounds in the early sixties. You could almost see them grow, as we are experiencing today.

Fifty pounders are, on average, around 21 years old, so you might watch the years after 2000.

FORK LENGTH
(inches)
WEIGHT
(pounds)
AGE
(years)
12 1/2 2
16 1- 3
18 - 20 2- 4
21 - 22 4 5
23 - 25 5 6
27 6- 7
29 - 32 9 8
34 15 9
38 18 10 - 12
40 - 48 28 - 45 14+
47 42+ 16+
49 48 - 50 18+
50 - 52 49+ 18+

The Trophy Striper by Frank DaignaultThe size and age chart above is a highly approximated average of striper lengths, weights, and ages of such fish. Individual variations caused by season, river of origin, and sex make this an inexact body of knowledge. Moreover, less is known about age and growth at the high end. When combined with the young-of-the-year index, it is possible to predict the size opportunities of striper fishing for a given year.

No accurate, scientific studies are at hand which would predict available 60 pounders, but, from memory, my educated guess would be that less than ten percent of all bass over 50-pounds exceed 60. It gets much worse. Seventy pounders are not counted on percentage but in years; a generation ago there were three in 15 years when there had not been any such fish for 54 years before that. Stripers over 80 pounds -- actually over 125 pounds -- have been recorded but never on rod and reel.

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Copyright 1998-2014 Frank Daignault, All Rights Reserved

Frank Daignault
Frank Daignault is the author of Striper Surf, Twenty Years on the Cape, Striper Hot Spots, The Trophy Striper, Eastern Tides and Fly Fishing the Striper Surf. Autographed copies of any of these books can be ordered directly from Frank, HERE.

Twenty Years on the Cape StriperSurf Striper Hot Spots The Trophy Striper Eastern Tides Fly Fishing the Striper Surf
Articles by Frank Daignault
Bait Behavior: How It Affects Your Striper Surf
Bay City Fishing
Beyond the Keeper An excerpt from The Trophy Striper
Canal Stripers Have a Long Season
Casting Tips for Distance
Connecticut's First Stripers
Cow Country: A Look at Monster Striper Hot Spots
Daignault Meets Cinto After 30 Years
Eel Imitators in the Surf
First Stripers -- Let the Game Begin
Flavor it Mackerel
Herring Choices for Spring Striper Fishing
How They Hit
Hurricane An excerpt from Twenty Years on the Cape
Inside Narragansett Bay
Is Cape Cod Dying?
Memorable Stripers - An excerpt from The Trophy Striper
Memories of Nauset Beach (Part I)
Memories of Nauset Beach (Part II)
Migrating Stripers, How Will You Do?
Moby Stripers Then and Now
Montauk On My Right and Provincetown on my left! (Two Parts)
Penetrating the Water Column
Seasoned Salt - An Interview
Surfcast? Are You Crazy?
Ten Killer Striper Flies
Ten Years of “Ask Frank”
The Forgotten Cape
Where Stripers Call
Winning With Big Surf Stripers
Your Big Striper Chances
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