There have been numerous articles recounting the storied years of Block Island’s legendary runs of big stripers during the 1980s, but not until now has anyone captured so well that magical time in surf fishing lore. Interviews with some of the top guns from that era recounting their own experiences with outsize stripers are the highlight of this easy to read book which you will find hard to put down once you get started.
Anyone who surf fished through the mid-1980s and was aware of the fishing that took place on Block probably wishes they had spent more time on the island. For those who never made their way across Block Island Sound, it is likely their greatest regret. It was a time and place when every cast held the anticipation of connecting with a 40-plus pound striper, with the potential for scoring a fish in that magical 50-pound class. Some dared to dream even bigger, dreams which for some were fulfilled.
Zambrotta’s recounting of the November, 1987 snowstorm blitz with first-hand accounts from many of the casters who were lucky enough to be on the Island then, will get the adrenaline cranking and have you counting moby stripers in your sleep. The details of that Friday and Saturday night reopened old wounds as I was among those stranded at Point Judith when the ferry stopped running due to the storm on Wednesday. We spent the night and then headed back to Long Island the next day after learning the ferry would not run again until Friday, since our original plans called for leaving the Island on Saturday. There was some consolation in the big stripers we found rolling on bunker in Fire Island Inlet that Thursday afternoon and again on Friday, but not enough to ease the pain of missing the “snowstorm blitz.” Read the book and you’ll understand why.
The documentation and first-hand accounts of that legendary stretch during the 1980s, when it seemed every jumbo striper on the coast visited Block’s shores, might well be the highlight of the book, but there is much more, including a thorough treatise on the history and evolution of the needlefish plug and those instrumental in the plug’s development. There are also valuable how-to chapters covering tactics for fishing under a bright moon, making your own eel bob, and the use of Red Gill teasers.
For those looking to explore Block Island’s shores for the first time, the book is a treasure trove of information. While many of us who fished the Island in the 80s have shifted their efforts to other stretches of the Striper Coast, Dennis continued to work the Island’s shores long after many others returned to their home waters. As a result, he has acquired a thorough understanding of the best tides and conditions for fishing many of Block’s famed striper spots and he holds nothing back in sharing what for many years was considered “classified” information.
Whether you were a part of the fishing that took place on Block Island or not, this book is a must-read. While the casual reader will be immediately drawn in by the stories of massive striped bass that were caught almost regularly on Block, the surfcaster looking to hone his island skills or add the island to his or her repertoire can use the book to guide them to the best spots. Read just a little bit deeper and you too may someday figure out Block Island. Until then, Dennis will get you through the cold, fishless nights of the off season.
Surfcasting Around The Block retails for $19.95 and is available from Causeway Bait & Tackle in Wantagh, New York; Fisherman’s Headquarters and Fisherman’s Supply in New Jersey; The Surfcaster Mail Order and River’s End in Connecticut; Saltwater Edge and Sam’s Bait & Tackle in Rhode Island; Red Top Bait & Tackle in Massachusetts.