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Striped Bass, Rhode IslandWhen I was a kid growing up on the coast of Massachusetts, striped bass were thought to be on the way to extinction. While a highly regarded game fish there numbers had dwindled to such low numbers that commercial fishing for them was halted. As a result of this I didn’t catch any stripers growing up. When I was in college one of my parents neighbors was a hard core live eel striper man who had a 57 lb fish on his wall. He took me out a few times and we got into some but I wasn’t able to get any on the fly. Needless to say I have had a goal of catching a striper on the fly for a long time. I went out briefly this summer while visiting my brother but came up empty. Two events were going to give me some shots at getting a striper were coming up and I started preparing. One my brother had asked me to play in a golf outing with him and we were going to go fishing on the outgoing tide in the afternoon. Secondly, Shaq had just had a great trip to the salt and my family was going to be away for a three day weekend so I decided to hit the salt for three days. I knew that if I was going to get a striper it was going to happen on one of these outings. On my visit to my brother we headed out for 2 hours of fishing. After swinging a fly I starting to strip it in, felt a solid pull and set the hook. I was totally psyched to have caught my first striper within a mile of my childhood home. This boded good things for the coming weekend of fishing in my mind.Shaq and I headed for the salt the following weekend armed and ready for battle. I was going to another ancestral homeland, that of my grandmothers. Shaq and I arrived late Friday night and immediately hit the surf after checking into the motel down the street from my grandmother’s old house. We walked a long way to find some rocks and on the way out ran into a guy with a 30 pounder on his back. He said there were tons of bluefish around and that he caught his beast on a live eel. Our pace quickened out to the spot and we found it empty of fishermen. We waded out into the rocks and on my second cast I had a fish. I couldn’t believe it. All of this wanting for stripers and now I had them. For the next 2 hours we were heavily into fish. Sometimes we caught fish on consecutive casts and we had numerous doubles. None of the fish were large but all nice schoolies. The next morning we hit the water in my small boat and started to get our bearings on the new landscape spread out before our eyes. Suddenly we saw a small blitz and Shaq was into the first of many fish for the day. It was amazing to see how selective the fish could be on the flies because my flies didn’t have the color combo that Shaq’s did and he out fished me in a significant fashion. That night we attempted to return to the spot of the previous night, but 10 hours on the water and little sleep left us weary and in need of sleep. Plus, a number of fisherman were there and that made for an easy decision. I tied up more flies with the correct colors ready to hit it again. The next morning Shaq had to return home and I was on my own. I fished the same water and did not see the same amount of bait in the water as the day before. I just kept fishing the eel grass keeping an eye out for fish which were easy to spot while I drifted along in the boat. I worked hard for my fish on this day, but I kept getting fish on a consistent basis. While drifting I did see some huge fish in some very skinny water, but they didn’t want to play with what I was offering. I tried a new spot that night with nothing to show for my efforts. The last outgoing tide found me on the flats the next morning looking for anything going on. Far off I saw a bunch of birds working along the beach and made a run for it. There was only one other boat there so I pulled up and let the wind drift me into the birds. I couldn’t see any fish but I was ready. While I’m standing there casting my phone goes off and it’s Shaq. While we’re talking a series of large boils take place 25 feet in front of me and I say, “fish, gotta go.” On my first cast I have about 5 large bass following the fly but none take it. I throw it back out and the line tightens up. Next thing I know is that my line is ripping through the water and this fish feels different than the others. Ten minutes later I have my first keeper striper in hand, a clean 31-32 inch fish. I quickly get the fly out and return the fish back to the salt. I sat in my boat for a while just drifting on the water and taking in the amazing three days of fishing that I had just experienced. I am so glad that I made the trip and got to witness the bounty of the New England coast. It was a great trip and one that will be repeated as I think I am hooked on this salt water thing. I love the fish and a whole new fishery that has opened up. I have so much to learn and can’t wait to get back out there to get more stripers, and maybe over time some of the other game fish that inhabit those beautiful waters.