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The third weekend in August is a special time in Salem MA on Winter Island and this year’s Striper Shootout would once again be filled with fun, food, fish and friends. We arrived on Thursday to a beautiful day on Winter Island and calm seas were in sight from our campsite on the knoll of the beach. Many had made the trip and had already set up camp the day before the official start of the 14th annual Striper Shootout. The day would end with songs and good times around a nice campfire with friends on a beautiful star lit sky night.

Friday is always a busy day with setup and taking care of the last-minute details needed to pull off the event. With over 140 anglers expected to arrive at check in between 5 and 8 PM the need to get the day going was in front of us. Like a well-oiled machine promptly at 4 pm the Shootout Staff would be in place putting together Captains Bags and putting the finishing touches on the event.

During our Thursday night get together around the campfire it was suggested that we might have a seafood get together the following night, and fresh Lobster would be the main dish. Being in Salem it’s not hard to find a good lobster source and after making a few calls we had found what we were looking for, fresh of the boat and priced right, North Shore Lobster. Not only were they delicious, but everyone who joined for the sweet local treat, we discussed making this a Friday Night get together for the 2019 Shootout, with orders being taken the week before. After all, when in Rome ! .

Many come to the Shootout to relax and be with friends and others are there just to try and catch the biggest Striper to be found on the North Shore. Once you check in at the Captains Meeting you can start fishing and many of our event anglers would be in tournament mode before the sun would set on Salem. You have to watch the wind and weather in Salem and the weekend would be once again filled with weather challenges on Winter Island.

By Saturday morning there was a buzz in the air and talk of 30+ inch stripers were being passed around. Saturday morning would find many in the Salem Harbor trolling tubes and on the hunt for their personal best striped bass. By noon the wind had started to pick up and low tide was setting in, a good time to take a break and head to the pavilion for the hot pizza lunch to be served for all to enjoy. Saturday night at the pavilion is also Pot Luck night and all are welcome to attend and share some laughs, fish tales and great home cooked food.

By 2 PM the wind had become a factor as it had last year on Saturday add some rain and thunder and lighting and well that’s Salem Weather, as Forrest would suggest, “You Never Know What You’re Going To Get” With a possible small craft advisory looming for Sunday many knew that window of getting on fish would be closing and time was of the essence.

Four PM and, the rain had stopped but the wind was heavy in the air, some would attempt to launch and other would settle into a Saturday night of friends, family and laughter.  One of the many great things about the Shootout is that it is filled with laughter from all ages young and old. Kayak Fishing is for all ages and genders and the Shootout is a prime example of the amazing anglers that make up NEKF.

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This year we would see our youth division being won by our youngest angler 8 year old Trey who would end up with (2) 19” one 22” and his winning fish was 25”. Many of our adult anglers this year could not claim those stats and little Trey’s win was well deserved.  You can usually count on some 40+ inch fish to make the leader board and this year the winning Striper would be caught by Troy in the open division @ 46” and Carl in the artificial division also with a 46” Striper. Congrats to all that placed and a special two thumbs up to all our youth anglers, you are the future of this great sport.

Sunday morning was wind filled and launching from Winter Island had its challenges and a small craft advisory was in place. Many would not attempt to hit the water again while others in remote waters outside of Winter Island would still be on the hunt. Sunday at the Shootout is always a good time and seeing the custom made bar-b-que food trailer pull in is always a welcome sight and this year’s pulled pork, BBQ chicken, sweet corn and cole slaw was award winning once again. As the raffle prizes and Kayaks were laid out for their new owners the crowd started to gather and the Sunday BBQ, Raffle and Award Ceremony was underway. Without the donations from our wonderful sponsors the money raised for the Make A Wish Foundation would not be possible.  For all our sponsors your gifts are so appreciated and without them the Shootout would not be the great event it is and we cannot thank all of you enough. It’s hard not to have a good time when three Kayaks and thousands of dollars in raffle prizes are being given away along with those beautiful shootout trophies. This year was special as the dedication of the one who truly had been leading the charge for 11 years would be putting down the phone, pens and paper and taking up a fishing pole instead. It is with our greatest gratitude to Eric for his enormous efforts to create a topnotch quality event. Now along with the already existing many volunteers, it may be a collective committee that takes up the responsibilities to continue to work the well-oiled machine for all future events.  

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The NEKF family honored one of our own on Sunday morning,  that had passed by holding a ceremony of the spreading of his ashes. Robert BIG BOY Willey was a corner stone for providing free breakfast sandwiches to any and all angles at his for ever camp spot among the beautiful trees. His wife, family and friends were in attendance and we shared stories of BIG BOY’s heart and humor, like the broken tree limb that still has the tape on it where he mended the branch. As his wife’s eyes gazed at this small gesture of thoughtfulness, you could tell that she knew all too well of his kind heart and how the little things mattered to him in life. We were honored to be able to share in his memorial and meeting his family and show them that NEKF will always be an extended part of BIG BOY and for them to come visit us any time for our event. We will always be there will open arms. BIG BOY’s tradition of breakfast sandwiches will be carried on in his honor on Saturday morning during the event. God Bless BB.

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Once again the Shootout was a great time for all that attended and Winter Island was a great host. To all the volunteers, sponsors and anglers without each and every one of you none of this would be possible. As we start to prepare for next year’s 15th annual Striper Shootout in Salem MA on Winter Island we welcome all to join in the fun and take part in this amazing event. See you @ Winter Island in 355 Days.

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2018 Shootout Winners

Open Division

1. Troy Meyerhoeffer – 46"

2. Steven Langton – 42"

3. Mike Baker – 41"



Artificial Division

1. Carl Vonnegut – 46"

2. Eric Harrison – 44"

3. Josh Beutler – 30.5"

Fly Division

1. Shirish Nadkarni – 25"

2. Joe Gugino – 23"

3. Rick Hacker – 18.5"

Junior Division

1. Trey Sweder – 25"

2. Jolene Read – 22"

3. Sasha Callaway – 22"

Winter Island Launch

1. Mike Larson – 31”

2. Richard Grabowski – 30.5”

3. Don Fields – 30”

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