Editor’s Note: Jack Koontz wrote On the Line, a fishing column for the Gazette, for nearly a decade in the late 1970s and 1980s. Word reached the Vineyard this week that Mr. Koontz had died on July 16 at the age of 70. What follows is a column he wrote in May 1980.

I remember my first fish. I was very young — probably four or five years old — when my father placed a small fishing rod in my hands. He assured me that eventually, something would bite the piece of bloodworm on the end of my hook. I must have patience, he said. I believed him. And he was right.

We were at a small pond behind my grandfather’s house near Annapolis, Maryland. The pond was brackish and through a series of culverts it emptied into the Chesapeake Bay. Somehow a small perch found its way into the pond and to my hook, just as my father had said. It was no more than six inches long and probably younger than the fisherman. But it didn’t matter. It was a fish: I had caught it myself.

The fish didn’t make it to the dinner table, or to the breakfast plate. It was too tiny for any fixings. The perch went to the freezer, wrapped in a sliver of butcher’s paper — my frozen prize.

That fish remained solid in my grandfather’s freezer at least a year. I would look at it, show it as proof to my friends that I had indeed taken a trophy from the back door pond. It was a frigid mount and could I have hung it on my bedroom wall, there would probably be a telling stain there today.

It all happened almost 30 years ago. Things have changed. These days my father comes north to fish with me. It’s a pleasure to repay the favor.

I remember his first trip to the Vineyard. West Tisbury Pond had been opened to the ocean — it was spring. Striped bass were in season. They had, as my father, made a trip up the Atlantic coast from the Chesapeake Bay to New England. I hoped there would be a meeting between the traveling fisherman and the migrating fish.

No. It didn’t really matter if we caught anything, my father assured me. The day was gorgeous. It was great to be on the Vineyard. It was fun to be together, he said more than once. I knew he was sincere. We had had many fishless days on the Chesapeake — there are dues to be paid. The first day of Island surfcasting would not necessarily be any different. Yet we both knew that it is much more exciting to catch fish than not. And I wanted a fish for him probably more than he wanted one for himself. It was a good day, fish or not, but a striper would surely help.

The first day was a leisurely one. No dawn sorties to the beach, no plugging the surf at midnight. Dad had driven 500 miles the day before and this was, after all, a vacation, not the first day of surf fishing boot camp. We arrived at the pond opening at the gentlemanly morning hour of 11.

The first hour was spent practicing with the long surf rods and casting lures over the high breakers. No fish were sighted, no bird diving, there was no activity other than our own exertions on the beach side of the waves.

Time for lunch. Sandwiches for us and fresh squid set on bottom hooks for a hungry striped bass. I’m not a master sandwichmaker, just basic stuff, but the piece of squid that I stuck on my father’s hook had the same effect as that little piece of bloodworm he had fastened to my own hook many years before. This however was no small perch.

Dad’s line suddenly went tearing from the reel — the sandwich was discarded. My father’s face went blank with the sudden hit. For an instant, he wasn’t quite sure what to do, but only for an instant. Quickly the rod was grabbed from the spike and his expression changed from blank chagrin to excited concentration. There was a fish on the line, and it was a good one.

The striper swam down the surf line to the west, moving with the tide. The fisherman moved with it. I went for the gaff as the fish pulled the line at an angle into the surf. Soon the fish tired and beneath the foam of the breakers was its sleek body, ribbed with black stripes, and framed in the curl of a wave. Now the fish was clearly visible — it was a fine bass of about 25 pounds.

Next came the precarious task of landing the fish in the surf — the peril of carefully working it through the waves. The tug of the receding wave had to be considered against the pressure on the line. Mr. Koontz, senior, did just fine. I — the junior Koontz, waded out with the gaff.

As I took the fish, relieved that the job was done, I turned to see my father standing in the sand, beaming a smile so large and so happy, anything broader would have broken his face.

Now there are three of us on the beach — an ecstatic fisherman, a happy host, and a 25-pound striped bass who should have been pleased by the memories and happiness his catch provided. And the bass was the centerpiece for some wonderful meals cooked for a very proud Marylander.

Dad’s fish spent no time in the freezer. The big bass went directly to a charcoal grill in a backyard just south of Annapolis. Just a few miles down the bay, I had caught my first fish many years before.