Lifelong fisherman and author Bill Sisson takes us on a journey to fish the finest striped bass waters along the Atlantic coast.
This is the story of America’s beloved saltwater sport fish and the millions of anglers who pursue them. Drawing on three decades of notebooks full of observations and interviews, as well as hundreds of hours spent pursuing the “striper,” “linesider,” or “rockfish”—as they are known regionally—through each season, from spring through late fall.
The essays and photographs illuminate the fish through these seasons and highlight their pursuit from the surf and boats, day and night. Accompanying essays, or fish tales, are told in Sisson’s unmistakably authentic voice and share stories of history, the seasons, and friendships. These tales transport us from the Gulf of Maine to Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, and from the Chesapeake Bay to Montauk, the Jersey Shore, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod.
About the Author
Bill Sisson has been chasing striped bass by boat and in the surf for much of his life, from Nova Scotia to Chesapeake Bay and a hundred places in between. He has worked for fishing magazines for nearly forty years and founded Anglers Journal in 2014. Peter Kaminsky wrote “Underground Gourmet” for New York magazine for four years, and his “Outdoors” column appeared in the New York Times for twenty years. His books include The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass.
“Fishing made magical. William Sisson’s Seasons of the Striper is a hefty coffee-table book, an addition to that genre where the illustrations had better be good—and in this book, are they ever—and where the text is often disposable. Here, however, the prose might be even better than the lavish, stunning photographs… The images almost feel wet to the touch. The pages almost smell like salt.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Somewhere between the patrician glamour of fly fishing for Atlantic salmon and the tropical glamour of pursuing tarpon lie the blue-collar rewards of fishing for striped bass. William Sisson knows stripers. After reading his vividly illustrated memoir, Seasons of the Striper, I’d guess he casts for striped bass in his sleep. And catches them too. Sometimes. A prose poet of saltwater in the vein of John Hersey (Blues) and John Hay (The Run), Sisson knows that the poetry of angling and of fish and coastal waters is rooted in facts, not metaphors. Sisson’s vivid memories are accompanied by one magnificent photograph after another of stripers and the world of striper fishing, many of them by Tom Lynch.” —Gray's Sporting Journal
“From the first page, it’s clear that Bill Sisson has been afflicted with the striper bug since his youth. Thankfully, Sisson’s skills as an angler are matched by his writing chops, allowing us all to enjoy a rollicking, remarkable journey that stretches from his first striper to the striper of a lifetime—and many late nights in between.” —David DiBenedetto, editor in chief of Garden & Gun and author of On the Run: An Angler’s Journey Down the Striper Coast
“Bill Sisson clearly has the wealth of experience on the water—along with plenty of sand in his waders—to be able to so eloquently impart the heart and soul of a fish that so many of us consider the holy grail of saltwater angling. Every striped bass aficionado will immediately identify with Bill’s beautifully worded and thought-provoking perspectives on this wonderful gamester. And the photos are just astounding!” —Barry Gibson, charter captain and former editor of Salt Water Sportsman
“What a thrilling book! With lively writing and captivating photography, Sisson has created something that is an absolute must for every striper angler.” —Monte Burke, author of Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World-Record Tarpon
“The book is magnificent, filled with gorgeous writing and photographs to match. Just a total pleasure to flip through, to read, to consider, to display proudly on the coffee table for folks to gawp at, and to learn about this species we chase and love.” —Sam Sifton, The New York Times
“Now striped bass enthusiasts have a new book that takes on this fish and the devoted anglers that take them on. Seasons of the Striper: Pursuing the Great American Gamefish from William Sisson is a beautiful 220-plus page book that is filled with stories and great photos about striped bass and striped bass angling. Like steelheaders, striper anglers are often willing to put in a lot of hours and a lot of work for few fish. Some chase birds, some chase the migration, and others put in countless hours of casting big rigs in the surf. And as we’ve seen in recent years, there are even anglers who pole shallow flats in bays on the Atlantic Coast for these fish. All of these practices are well documented in this book, and every aspect of striped bass fishing gets a good look. From the history of fishing for striped bass to the characteristics and distribution of the fish itself to fly angling and night fishing, William Sisson takes on everything striper in the book. And for those who want plenty of photos, the author includes a generous amount of photos from a number of outstanding photographers. Good coffee table books that pay homage to a species come around only every so often. When they do, they are a must-have for enthusiasts. Seasons of the Striper is such a book, and Sisson’s work will be considered by many the definitive book on fishing for striped bass.” —THE VENTURING ANGLER
"Lifelong fisherman and author Bill Sisson takes us on a journey to fish the finest striped bass waters along the Atlantic coast." —CONNECTICUT MAGAZINE
“If you're looking for a beautiful coffee table book that is also a wise, interesting and well-written paean to the history and mystery of striped bass fishing, please buy Seasons of The Striper. Sisson is the former editor-in-chief of Anglers Journal—arguably the most literate and beautiful fishing magazine ever produced. Seasons takes its cues in the most flattering way from the way AJ approaches fishing—as obsession, as beauty, as art, as craft, as perhaps the most telegenic and viscerally interesting connection to the environment. The photography is simply breathtaking, but the writing is equally compelling, powerful and moving. You'll learn a ton. In twelve chapters, Sisson glides through the history, both highly researched and highly personal, that captures the allure of the iridescent battler that he calls the ‘great American gamefish.’ But if you're looking for the heart of the book—and the heart of the writer—linger on the chapter titled, ‘The Old Ways.’ There, Sisson takes readers on a deeply personal journey, recounting his childhood immersion in striper fishing as a member of a family that aligned with what would become a disappearing American tribe, the ‘Swamp Yankees.’ These were free-thinking, rugged individuals in hand-made boats, eking out a living and chasing stripers on seashores long before they were parceled out, developed’ and sold to hedge-fund money. They say you can’t go home again but Sisson takes us to that particular place in a way that you can’t help but feel his pride in what he learned and absorbed there and the rueful sense of what's been forever lost. This is not an essay you will find in most 'fishing' books, which is why Seasons should be on every thinking fisherman's coffee table.” —Ken Wells
“Growing up fishing off the beach for stripers as a kid in Long Island Sound, this beautiful book really resonates… It’s the closest to being on the water you can get without getting wet!” —James Prosek, artist and author of Ocean Fishes
“Seasons of the Striper is a gorgeous tribute to one of the most iconic fish in the ocean and the anglers who spend their lives chasing them. From start to finish, the beautiful writing and photographs capture the essence of the striped bass, and how much joy they bring to so many—myself included. I highly recommend this book, especially for those cold winter days when you are dreaming of warmer days on the ocean throwing a fly at these magnificent fish.” – Gaelin Rosenwaks, marine scientist, underwater filmmaker and photographer, and author of Sperm Whales: The Gentle Goliaths of the Oceans
“Seasons of the Striper is sweeping in its scope and appreciation of our most sought-after and, many would argue, most important marine game species, as told by a true, insightful, and humble fisherman. This homage to one man’s worthy obsession and a storied fish deserves a place in the pantheon of great fishing literature… While Seasons would certainly stand on the merits of the writing alone, it’s presented in a large, ‘coffee-table’ format and accompanied by stunning photographs by Tom Lynch, Pat Ford, James Manning, Jay Fleming, and others. These images capture the majesty of the fish, the excitement of the pursuit in often nasty conditions, and the exquisite beauty of the environment in which the game is played.” -- Explore New England
“Coastal angler and boating journalist Bill Sisson distills his lifelong obsession with striped bass (aka ‘rockfish,’ ‘linesider’) into a hardcover book of lyrical essays interwoven with stunning photography of fish, gulls, and the anglers who immerse themselves in this saltwater realm. Fans of the quarterly publication, Anglers Journal will recognize Sisson’s evocative writing: ‘Each spring, striped bass pour from their winter retreats in the Hudson River and Chesapeake Bay, streaming northward as the lengthening days warm the waters along the coast. The bass move in boisterous battalions, and we anglers are jolted from our winter doldrums, intoxicated with the pulse-quickening action.’ Readers will certainly learn a few tricks from a master striper angler, but the takeaway may just as well be a profound respect for both the tenacious, voracious fish and the anglers who see striper fishing as far more than a hobby. To them, it’s a way of life.” -- BoatUS Magazine
“The new book from author William Sisson titled Seasons of the Striper captures the love we all have for this amazing fish. Right up front, we want to say that the book includes incredibly beautiful prose and images, unmatched on this scale in any other book we’ve read to date. This large, table-top stunner is a massive 224-pages and it is just packed with amazing stories and photos about what it means to pursue striped bass... The printing is outstanding and surpassed our expectations. When we got our copy to review, we opened the package right away, but had intended on just flipping through it quickly. However, we ended up so impressed and caught-up by the stories and images, the next thing we knew, we had been reading the book for two hours! The quality of every page and every image is just fantastic, top-notch. Yes, there are a lot of books on striped bass, but we’ve yet to find anything like this book–especially one with so much surf focus. If you’re looking for a gift for a surfcaster–or anyone who loves the striper—this is a slam-dunk, and we can’t recommend it highly enough.” -- Surfcaster’s Journal