This excellent fish is found all along the Atlantic coast, from Florida to Maine. It inhabits the rivers, bays, inlets and creeks; and is taken in great abundance, particularly in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. There, it frequently grows to the length of three, four and even five feet and weighing in some instances, full one hundred pounds! The striped bass will run up some rivers a hundred miles or more, and in Maine they are found quite plentiful in the Penobscot. In the Connecticut, too, some very fine ones are taken. In winter they still keep their haunts, and do not go into deep water like other fish of similar habits. The word (bass) is said to be a Dutch name, signifying perch; but it little resembles the fish we know by that name. The bass is one of the most beautiful fish in point of color and perfect symmetry that swims, and next to the salmon is the most delicious for the table.
In the spring of the year the striped bass runs up the rivers and into other fresh water places to spawn - and then again late in the fall to shelter. The fall run is the best. It can be taken, however, nearly all the year round, and of all sizes.
The apparatus for bass fishing is a pliable rod from 12 to 18 feet in length, according to circumstances. The reel should have 200 to 300 feet of line, which may be made of flax or grass. Silk line is sometimes used. The swivel sinker and float should be gaged according to your ground. The leader should be three or four feet in length, with a Limerick or Kirby hook from 0 to 3, according to the size of the fish to be taken. Double leaders are often necessary. Use your own judgment in this respect. In boat fishing, the float is not usually used, and the sinker should be light enough to float off with the tide, but at the same time to touch bottom at all times. By this mode you will get large fish, as the large ones are generally nearest the bottom.
The best place for fishing bass is the quietest place you can find, and at full neap tide. When this tide occurs early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, and if the wind is off shore and a gentle ripple on the water you may take bass very easily, and in abundance. In rivers, get in the exact channel, or over some deep cove, near an outlet of a brook, or some small stream.
In the waters near New York City, the striped bass begins to bite well early in April. At this season shrimp is the best bait, especially in salt water. In fresh water they will bite shad roe at this season. In June you must begin t use soft shell crab though they will usually bite at shrimp until about the first of August. The mode of fishing with crabs differs a little from the other, inasmuch as the bait should now lie on the bottom, whereas in the case of shrimps it is suspended near the bottom. A sliding sinker is now used, and the float dispensed with altogether. About the first of October you again resort to shrimps, as the shell of the crab now begins to harden. The Killey fish is also used now, in salt water, which is, in fact, preferable to the shrimp for large fish. In fresh water you should use the white opened soft clam. But the bass is very whimsical and dainty. In some places he will jump greedily at a clam bait, while at others he will take nothing but shrimp or crab. There is a beautiful little fish called the spearing which is fished with at certain places in salt water, with great success. In the Hudson river, the largest and finest bass are taken with set lines, as follows: Two stakes are driven in the bottom of the river at a certain distance apart, and a strong cord is stretched across. To this cord is attached short lines at convenient distances, with strong hooks, baited with tom-cod or other small fish. In this way the very largest bass are taken in great abundance.
Trolling for bass is excellent sport, and is practiced a good deal by amateurs. The tackle employed is a strong hand line, and artificial bait is used with good success. This consists of silver plated "spoons, or bits of mother pearl worked into a proper shape and other ingenious contrivances to be had at the fishing-tackle stores. Squid are also an excellent bait for trolling. To fasten the squid to your hook, you should use a needle and waxed linen thread. Take off the skin of the squid, and pull out the spine - then insert the needle through the opening made by the spine, and in this way fasten your hook so the point will pass through near his eye - commence sewing him onto the hook from his tail, and stitch up to his neck. This is so troublesome a process that few sportsmen use it; but very large fish are taken in this manner.
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