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November 18, 2013

Skok's Mushmouth

The baitfish pattern with a backbone

If you’ve ever thumbed through an issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters and paused to admire an artistically shot striped bass or a creative low-light landscape, the odds are good you’ve seen the photo credit of Dave Skok next to the image. Skok’s passion for all things fly-fishing began at the age of 10 in his home state of Connecticut, where he fished primarily for bluegills. Nearly 30 years later, Skok admits that he loves fly-fishing as much today as he did back then — perhaps even more. He still remembers the first striped bass he caught and stated that one fish was what really got him crazy about the sport.

“I caught it at Penfield Reef on a green-and-white deceiver with some grizzly feathers in the tail. I had a wire shock tippet on because there were some blues around too. The tide was running pretty hard, and while it wasn’t a big fish compared to what I had been used to, it pulled like the dickens,” Skok remarked. 

About 15 years ago, the Connecticut native packed his belongings and moved to Boston — an area that historically has had great striped bass fishing. One might assume that an area so synonymous with one species would make it a favorite of those who reside there — this is not the case for Skok. He loves striped bass, and because of his proximity to them, he pursues them the most, but according to him, he doesn’t really have a favorite fish to target — he loves doing it all. 

Being a fly-fishing photographer has afforded Skok several opportunities to travel abroad to places such as the Bahamas and Mexico, but the majority of his fishing and shooting takes place inside two hours of Boston. When asked if he has a favorite destination, with no hesitation Skok responded, “I love going to Martha’s Vineyard in the fall to chase mostly false albacore but also striped bass, bluefish and bonito. This trip is kind of a long-term vacation on which I can really immerse myself into the recreational fishing culture of the area, sometimes for as long as a month. It usually takes a week before you actually feel like you know what’s going on and are in the rhythm of the place, which to me is very rewarding.” 

When Skok mentioned the striper culture of Martha’s Vineyard, I asked him to elaborate more on that topic, because this fish has a devotion behind it rivaled by few others. In his opinion, the culture of striped bass directly correlates to the magnificence of the species itself. His point rests on versatility. “You can catch them many miles up a big freshwater river, in tiny brackish tidal creeks, 30 miles offshore, on sandy flats, in open ocean surf — you name it, stripers can thrive there and do so 24 hours a day.”