Book Review
The Hunt for Big Stripers, by Zeno Hromin - Review by John Pollock


Books for Striper Anglers: The Hunt for Big Stripers, Zeno Hromin, Chapters: Steve McKenna, Doc Muller, Crazy Alberto Knie, John Skinner, Bill Wetzel, Manny Moreno, & Jimmy D’Amico. Review by John Pollock, Reprinted from MSBA “Spray”.

Hunt for Big Stripers“The Hunt for Big Stripers” by Zeno Hromin, 2008

As I was finishing the final pages of this second book from Zeno Hromin I had an image of the opening scene from the PBS TV series Masterpiece Theater. You know the scene, where the camera pans around a spacious wood-paneled library, pausing on a leather bound chair and a huge roaring fireplace. This is a classic book that should be purchased as a Christmas gift to yourself and then held to be read on a frigid winter night.

Zeno Hromin has two parts to the book. The first written by himself and the second by seven other equally experienced big striper surfrats, including Rhode Islander Steve McKenna, “Doc” Muller and “Crazy” Alberto Knie. Whether Zeno is dealin with the details of tackle or relating a tale of his youth he has a writing style that is a joy to read. The sub-title for this book is “Surfcasting Strategies of the Experts” and Zeno sets out his strategy simply as be willing to lose. Be willing to lose the opportunity to catch smaller fish so that you can concentrate on that one over-whelming, all consuming, once-in-a-lifetime strike from a 50lb striper. In other words go out prepared to capture that Mama Bass and do not--repeat do not--be distracted from that goal even if you are the only one not taking any fish.

I interpret tactics as the means to execute a strategy and Zeno’s tactic is to use live eels. Early in the book he asked Manny Moreno when is thebest time to use live eels? Manny’s answer is “whenever you can.” Live eels are Zeno’s tactic and the bigger the eel the more small bass will avoid it. The seven other experts are writing about their own tactics because they have also chosen a similar strategy of “willingness to lose” And hence, Zeno chose four of the seven chapters to deal with eels: John Skinner and Manny Moreno on live eel and rigged eel fishing, followed by Steve McKenna on rigged sluggos (eel imitation) and then Zeno’s own on eel skin-rigged plugs.

Then comes a chapter by “Crazy” Alberto Knie on chunk fishing that really lets you know fishing for big stripers is a heavy, full-time game (don’t bring a knife to a gun fight). From the opening chapters by Jimmy D’Amico on equipment to that by “Doc” Muller on proper de-hooking and releasing, to the closing chapters on bucktailing and one by Bill Wetzel on artificials, you, dear reader, are in the water, on the rocks and hooked up to big fish.

This book should be read on a frigid winter night so that next season’s strategy can be decided and tactics fully developed. If you decide on a “willingness to lose” strategy for big stripers then read slowly, one chapter a night, with each tactic carefully considered and suited to you. What better reason to put this book under your tree this Christmas?

Review by John Pollock, Reprinted from MSBA “Spray”.


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The Surfcaster’s Guide to the Striper Coast, by D.J. Muller - Review by John Pollock

Books for Striper Anglers: The Surfcaster’s Guide to the Striper Coast, by D.J. Muller, How, why, and where Stripers Feed, Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Catching Large Striped Bass. Foreward by “Crazy” Alberto Knie, Review by John Pollock, Reprinted from MSBA “Spray”.

Surfcaster's Guide to the Striper Coast

“The Surfcaster’s Guide to the Striper Coast” by D.J. Muller, Burford Books, 2007,

This is a book that should have been written 40 years ago when I was a greenhorn surfer. But the fact is, it could not have been written then because very little was known about Striped Bass, their spawning locales and their migratory routes. Young surfers are very lucky today. They have videos, maps, websites, magazines, and books to learn about the Striper, and fishing for them that didn’t exist in 1968.

This book is also for the experienced surfer. “Crazy” Alberto Knie wrote the foreword for his friend and said this, “DJ uncovers the surf rat’s mindset and digs deep into the seldom-covered practices and unspoken etiquettes of fishing.” Is there a mindset of the surfer that is different from other fishers? Yes, I believe there is, and DJ sets it up early in this book when he refers to his quest as “this great striper, this great fish.” His quest is also “rich emotions, special places and unique people” Much of the book deals with how-to items that a young surfer needs to know but much also brings up those rich emotions. For example, I had a ’Yes you’re right!’ moment in the middle of the book. It was a flash back to my realization many years ago after taking a striper from a jetty at Rockaway Beach that, By God, these fish were swimming right in among the bathers.

D.J. Muller has enough in this book to put it on any surf rat’s book case. Old rats can learn new tricks. For example, to me new moon phases meant only darker nights. The author shows how the new moon can push 2 feet or more of water into a high tide with flooded beaches, estuaries and more powerful currents which will draw stripers on both flood and ebb. And I will also be more alert to big bass swimming under smaller breaking bass. That bass will probably feed along the bottom unless baitfish bring them up. And I will never underestimate the ability of the striper to smell dinner, whether live eel or mackerel chunk. Back to basics is good.

D.J. Muller is a big man and muscular. He has a section on conditioning for surfcasting that got my empathy-- a knock-down in rough surf can be fatal. Beyond that D.J. is a foot-slogging surfer like me. He talks about beach buggies but he doesn’t use one. He talks about many fishless nights and about the hours of contemplation, preparation and planning that precedes every trip. I still lose sleep thinking about the next trip--it is part of the mindset of a surf rat and that is why I liked this book.

Review by John Pollock, Reprinted from MSBA “Spray”.

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Moon Phase