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John Field- About

2024 Presentations, Signings & Casting Demonstrations

Fly Fishing for Trophy Striped Bass

Stackpole Books

Upcoming Book: Fly Fishing for Trophy Striped Bass- Details

Pre-order on Amazon for delivery on June,18th: Fly Fishing for Trophy Striped Bass

Why I wrote this book..

Big stripers possess impressive power when they feed and when they fight against capture. Their almost black stripes contrast along their white flanks and hews of green, blue, and gold that transition into their dark broad head and back. They look so beautiful in different tones of light. They have a slight underbite and a strong jaw. The spines in their dorsal fin give them a formidable defensive appearance when erect. They are strongly built and have a beautiful broad tail. Stripers are at home in the current of rivers and ocean rips and use their fins and tail to hold in place or chase prey. Their power and beauty are why I pursue them and want to briefly feel their wildness.

You know you’ve hooked a big bass the moment after the strike when any line you’re holding or looped on the deck is yanked toward the stripper guide of your fly rod. When a good striper feels the sting of a hook, it usually reacts and if you don’t clear tangles or if a loop catches on something, the line will break never to be seen again! If you successfully get the fish on the reel, your drag will growl when the big bass makes its first run. It may make a few good runs even against a well-set drag.

I started striper fishing in the surf off Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1970 with an old Hungarian-American named Gabe Morada who owned a tackle shop in downtown New Brunswick, NJ. When the fish were running, I’d take a bus into town from my school and he’d close shop to take me to Sandy Hook, NJ. I remember hearing and seeing lines of snow geese migrating overhead on a cold December afternoon while we slid fish up onto the wet sand. In 1972 on a family trip, I fished out of Wellfleet, Mass on a charter in Cape Cod Bay and caught big bass on bunker spoons. So, I knew what a wonderful fish they were to see and catch and was dismayed when recreational anglers and commercial fishermen exploited them until their population crashed.

Through the work of hundreds of individuals and dozens of environmental and angling groups, Congress declared a moratorium on the harvest of striped bass in 1984. If you haven’t read this book, I recommend, Striper Wars, by Dick Russell, 2005. It tells the story of protecting the Hudson stripers, their nursery habitat, and the revolt against overharvest of stripers and their forage up and down the coast.

Striper stocks were finally rebuilt in the late 1990s. My friends and I hit the New Jersey beaches and had incredible days of forty or fifty bass on a fly. The first couple of seasons we mainly caught schoolies with an occasional keeper over 28”. Maybe once a year on a herring run a school of big bass would feed close enough to reach. We saw no adult menhaden along the shore in spring, but we had peanut bunker along the beaches in the fall.

Tired of catching 40-50 schoolies a day from shore, I wanted to catch the big bass swimming in deeper water out of reach. In 2000 I bought a boat to use on the flats and along the coast. It was a Maverick 17 Master Angler from Captain Jeff Northrup, who owned Westport Outfitters in Connecticut. He pioneered New England flats fishing in the 1970s among the Norwalk Islands in the Long Island Sound. I kept the boat in New Jersey and fished from the southern shore of Long Island, NY to Barnegat Bay, NJ. I’d launch according to the fish location and safest wind direction. I fished it in 3-5 footers at times and as late as New Years’ Day some years during an Atlantic herring run. I remember sweeping a foot of snow of the deck wondering when I’d slip into the ocean forever. I never wore a tether or PFD vest. There was only my friends Jim Freda and Gene Quigley on the water around Christmas.

I did succeed in catching bigger fish and twenty pounders were common, but I knew there was more potential. I contacted Brad Burns, founder of Stripers Forever, who I heard was catching much bigger fish in the Elizabeth Islands. When I spoke to Brad, he candidly told me the key was the presence of big bait.

At the time in 2001, menhaden were not very abundant along the coast due to inshore overharvesting. Squid and herring were the big baits stripers were feeding on to pack on weight. Brad particularly recommended following the squid run and introduced me to handful of captains who specialized in this game. I did that for 15 summers and we fished the waters of Fishers Island Sound, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound and my flats skiff sat idle. Jeff Northrup bought it back coincidentally and returned it to service.

An observant angler can watch and learn about the methods and equipment from good captains. I used my combined experience and my conversations with marine biologists to write two striper articles for Fly Fisherman Magazine. I also wrote two books on fly casting. Captain Jeff Northrup remarked recently at a fishing event, “This book is your magnum opus.”

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 Fly-Casting Instruction

I won't be available to give lessons until February 14th 2024, but feel free to contact me to schedule lessons for after that date.

Volunteer Projects

American Casting Association
I'm still webmaster of the ACA website and Facebook admin. I'm still sorting and organizing all the photo/audio media from the 1940s to 2000 from ACA's Netherton Archive and Collection.

Consider Supporting These Organizations

AMERICAN SALTWATER GUIDES ASSOCIATION

The American Saltwater Guides Association was created to activate and unite guides, small business owners and like-minded anglers, and to represent them and their voice at the federal, regional and state level.

STRIPERS FOREVER

Stripers Forever, a non-profit conservation organization, seeks game fish status for wild striped bass on the Atlantic Coast in order to significantly reduce striper mortality, to provide optimum and sustainable public fishing opportunities for anglers from Maine to North Carolina, and to secure the greatest socio-economic value possible from the fishery.

BONEFISH TARPON TRUST

Mission: To conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.

THE HENRY'S FORK FOUNDATION

The Henry's Fork Foundation is the only organization whose sole purpose is to conserve, protect, and restore the unique fisheries, wildlife, and aesthetic qualities of the Henry's Fork and its watershed.

TROUT UNLIMITED

Trout Unlimited's mission is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.