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Herb roasted striped bass. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

There is more to fishing than meets the eye hook. To quote the poet John Buchan:

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”

With the abundance of fish that migrate through our waterways, east enders are lucky to find the catch of the day on a favorite restaurant menu or beautifully displayed fillets on ice at the local fishmonger. But the absolute joy may come from casting a fishing line out on the water with a seasoned captain to guide you to where the fish are running. If anything, you get a nice boat trip out of it and some “leave your troubles behind” peacefulness. 

With some planning, a fishing trip out of West Islip aboard the Jenny E, a 25 ft. Kencraft Buxton private charter, will provide that memorable day on the waves. Owned and operated by USCG Captain Tom Falco, Jenny E Charters offers private charter boat fishing trips for up to four anglers in the beautiful Great South Bay and near shore waters of Fire Island Inlet on the south shore of Long Island, NY. 

“I started Jenny E Charters seven years ago with the hope of being able to provide an experience for folks to discover our beautiful natural environment through fishing,” says Falco. “Fishing has been a lifelong passion for me, and I wanted a way to pass that on to folks with limited (or no) experience on the water,” he continues.

Catching a striper may be more reason to book an excursion, especially while the migratory fish pass through on their way up north. 

Fresh, just-caught striped bass run in the spring and fall in the Northeast. (Photo credit: Doug Young)

“The majority of these fish start their journey in spring in the Chesapeake Bay, then travel north up the coast to the Gulf of Maine; some go as far as Nova Scotia. They then turn around and head back down to the Chesapeake Bay coast,” explains Falco. “We here on Long Island see the large body of these fish on their migration in May to June on their way up and October to November on their way back down.”

Where some fish may require more patience than others when it comes to luring to a hook, striped bass are relatively low maintenance, preferring good bait, such as clam or bunker chunks (menhaden) or artificial lures.

“We use plugs, bucktails, jigs, paddletails,” says Falco, “conditions will dictate which bait or lure you use.” Time of day (“dawn and dusk are great times to target striped bass,” says Falco), water temperature, and tides also play an imperative role in success.

“Some areas are better on a flood tide [incoming], others are better on the ebb [outgoing],” explains Falco, “look for ‘rips,’ which indicate areas with underwater structure or changes in depth. Bass like to hang there.”

After a day on the water, returning home with your fresh catch of an acceptable regulatory size striped bass (“We have a slot size limit of 28 to 31 inches; anything under 28 or over 31 inches must be released,” says Falco) cleaning the fish will require minimal but careful knife skills. Thankfully, Falco is also there to guide you through the process.

“We fillet all our fish on board once we return to the dock,” says the seasoned captain. “A sharp knife is essential; take your time and use smooth cuts, starting at the dorsal [upper] side of the fish, working down and cutting close along the bones and rib cage,” he continues. “There are no pin bones to worry about on a striped bass.”

Well known for its meaty, firm texture, striped bass offers varied culinary options and can withstand grilling and roasting, as in this recipe. Roasting the fish with fresh herbs, lemon and onion keeps the flavor focused on the fish, which is so fatty that it will taste buttery on its own and needs little more than salt and pepper for seasoning. One thing most cooks implore, as does Falco: Don’t to overcook the fish! Make sure the flesh remains opaque.

While this recipe initially calls for cooking the bass over rosemary, lemon thyme is a nice change-up for spring. Pair it with a simple side salad and pour a glass of crisp 2022 Palmer Albariño while you talk to your guests about your memorable day fishing on the water. 

“You’re always making memories when that line hits the water, and being in a position where I can help to facilitate making memories for my customers is special to me,” says Captain Falco. “Hearing I got one! from a kid or adult alike is always exciting.”

Herb roasted striped bass

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 4 servings


  • 2 bunches fresh herbs, such as rosemary or lemon thyme
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 2 lb center-cut filet wild striped bass, with skin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Spread one bunch of the herbs in a single layer in the bottom of a baking pan that can hold the fish comfortably. Spread the onion slices over the herbs.
  • Place the fish, skin-side down, on top. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the second bunch of herbs on the fish and top with the lemon slices, arranged in a row. Drizzle the olive oil over all.
  • Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours if not planning to cook immediately. Let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before roasting.
  • Preheat oven to 500° F.
  • Roast the fish for 20 minutes, or until opaque in the middle.
  • Using a large spatula, transfer the fish to a warm platter along with the herbs, onion and lemon, and serve.

*Adapted from Nancy Skurnik’s recipe, which appears in The Ladies Village Improvement Society Cookbook: Eating and Entertaining in East Hampton by Florence Fabricant, Rizzoli, New York. Available for purchase at the LVIS Bargain Box Thrift Shop and BookHampton.