History of High Hill Striper Club
By Fred Schwab
The High Hill Striper Club, Inc., came into being in January 1952 when 10 individuals gathered at the then Outdoorsman Tackle Shop on Sunrise Highway, Merrick.
Why it?s founders chose the name ?High Hill? is largely unknown, but it refers to a summer colony which consisted of a huge wooden pavilion and some 20 to 30 cottages located along the eastern rim of Zachs Bay and among the dunes near the ocean surf. Known as High Hill Beach, it antedated the 1929 opening of Jones Beach State Park but did not survive the Park?s expansion during the 1940?s.
The Club?s focus is, and has always been, on surf fishing, fellowship, the sharing of knowledge and friendly competition among its members. Competing with other clubs has been a High Hill tradition and we are proud of the fact that, in response to the demise of the R.J. Schaefer Saltwater Fishing Contest in the late 1970?s, High Hill was involved in the creation of the New York Surf Fishing Contest and influential in it?s placing emphasis on catch and release.
High Hill has a long history of being involved in conservation issues and actively promoting and supporting efforts to ?effectively? manage and restore finfish resources. From it?s ranks in 1967, came a co-founder and leading spokesman of Save Our Stripers (SOS), and among those who joined with him were many High Hill members who tirelessly worked to achieve regulatory management of what was becoming an over fished and consequently declining fishery.
SOS would become a major player in convincing the New York State Legislature to approve the implementation of a striped bass management program in 1983, and in 1984 to ignore legislation that would have seriously weakened the effectiveness of that program. Another High Hill member participated in the 4-year development of the related original Atlantic Coast striped Bass Management Plan, adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in 1981, and he has since 1994 served as a striped bass advisor to that Commission.
In 1978, at a time when New York?s minimum size limit for the striped bass was a scientifically unsound 16 inches, the High Hill membership adopted a self imposed minimum of 26 inches and in the late 1980?s increased that to the present 36 inches. During 1979 the club opted to prohibit the sale of fish by its members, thus clarifying the fact that High Hill is a sport-fishing organization.
High Hill is, and has always been, a small club with never more than 40 members. Despite it?s size, over the years club members have registered 9 striped bass of 50 pounds or more, 50 in the 40 pound class and at least 119 in the 30?s, the majority of those fish were released. To date High Hill?s largest by species are striped bass 58-13, bluefish 20-12 and weakfish 15-8. Worth noting is the fact that 4 of the bass over 50 pounds bottomed the scale at 55 pounds.
High Hill was the first club on Long Island, and perhaps elsewhere as well, to apply the wet suit to fishing the surf and the large and fatter darter commonly in use today is a descendant of the plug, which High Hill members ?quietly? made and used during the 1960?s.
High Hill?s fishing effort is, in general, expended throughout the New York Marine District but largely focuses on the bays and surf of the north and south shores of Long Island and at Montauk Point. While the majority of it?s members specialize in the use of artificial lures, some fish with bait or switch from one method to the other depending upon conditions and the likelihood of success.
High Hill meets on a monthly basis in East Meadow, Long Island, has an annual awards dinner and schedules several get-together short term contests each year. It?s members are a mix in terms of age and background but it is a congenial mix with a strong common interest, that of surf fishing and the rewards unique to that activity. That it is a congenial group is attested to by the fact that 17 of it?s present members have belonged to the club for 10 or more years with 6 of those being members for 20 to 26 years and one each with 24 and 44 years.
For information on the High Hill Striper Club please see website.