Review by Steve Raymond
Frank Amato Publications, Inc.
Hardcover $39.95; softcover,$25
Even if you fish only in libraries, the number of new striper-fishing titles would be a sure tip-off that East Coast striped bass populations have rebounded. And when books about stripers start getting as specialized as this one... well, you know things have to be on the upswing.
As its title indicates, this book focuses narrowly on sight fishing, certainly the most exciting way to capture any species on the fly. ''Stripers are superb flats game fish, and they're readily available to many fly-fishers,'' author Alan Caolo writes. ''When striper stocks are up, the sight-fishing opportunities are endless. When their numbers are down, sight fishing is perhaps the most effective way of catching one on fly tackle.'' This book tells you how to go about it.
The first chapter describes waters where you can stalk stripers by sight, including inshore and offshore flats and the surf, and it details fly-fishing techniques for all three environments. The second, titled ''Striped Bass Behavior in the Sight-Fishing Condition'' (catchy title), describes striper behavior and feeding habits on the flats, and draws parallels between sight fishing for stripers and bonefish.
Other segments describe the critters stripers eat, fly patterns designed to imitate those critters, how to see fish, and methods of presentation and retrieval. A chapter titled ''Angling Strategies''offers tips on clothing, equipment and techniques for fishing onfoot or from a boat. The chapter also describes how stripers take the fly and what to do if you get refusals, and it provides some good thoughts on releasing fish.
Other sections deal with tackle, equipment and ''Sight-Fishing Destinations.'' The latter features sketches of specific fishing areas by veteran guides, including Capt. Jeff Northrop on Connecticut's Norwalk Islands, Capt. Paul Dixon on Long Island's Gardiner's Bay, Lou Tabory on Martha's Vineyard, Capt. Jeff Heyer on Nantucket, Capt. Kris Jop on Monomoy and Capt. Andrew Cummings on Cape Cod Bay. Caolo himself weighs in with a description of southern New England waters.
Except for the preface, which appears to have escaped editing, Caolo's language is mostly good, though sometimes a little awkward and sprinkled with punctuation and typographical errors. The text is augmented by charts and other illustrations by Philip Caolo, the author's brother, and by good color photos. The magazine-size format of the book adheres closely to what has become the standard Amato formula - two columns of type on each page with oval-shaped photos at the beginning of each chapter and everything else squared off. It's a safe, conventional, space-efficient format - and one almost devoid of imagination.
But most people buy books for their information, not their design, and this one has plenty of good dope. It's a thorough, workmanlike introduction to the exciting sport of sight fishing for stripers with a fly.