The ultimate challenge for me this October is to get into a school of 20-50 pound bass from the beach. Who knows if this will happen this season, but I really believe that I (and you too) have a good chance.
Schools of hundreds of big bass do travel along Cape Cod’s beaches during October in surprisingly shallow water. The odds of encountering a big school like this are slim, but it is possible and now is the best time to give it a shot.
While there is no doubt that many fish have already departed south (including the biomass we enjoyed this summer in Cape Cod Bay), it is good to know that there are still plenty of bass north of Cape Cod.
I actually read this past week that fish are still being taken as far north as southern Maine, which obviously bodes well for us here on the Cape. Hopefully we will have stripers around right into early November this season.
The bass north of Cape Cod have two options: head out around P-town and down the outer Cape, or head south through the Cape Cod Canal.
While I don’t have any scientific evidence to back my theories up, I do believe that most of the bass off Cape Cod follow some sort of general migration route. The key for us surf casters is to pick a strategic spot at the right time to intercept them.
Picking a Spot
Probably the #1 shore bound spot to intercept migrating schools of striped bass is the Cape Cod Canal. However this season I want to intercept big fish from the beach, with my feet firmly planted in some sand.
Don’t get me wrong, the Canal is still an incredible place to fish! However, can you imagine intercepting a school of a thousand big bass that have settled in just a few feet of water, in some obscure location along a dark Cape Cod beach?
Now that would be an experience.
So when picking a specific spot to fish this Fall I’ve been sticking with the “go big or go home” philosophy. I’ve really only been fishing areas where I know large schools of big bass venture into. The thing is that you just never know what day or night they are going to show up.
This type of fishing is extremely hit or miss. When targeting big bass from the beach it’s not unusual to go days without a bite, but then on one trip it all comes together which makes the invested time and energy worth it.
Thus far this Fall it’s been all “miss” for me (with the exception of catching smaller bass which is always fun) which really only means one thing – I am due for a big hit. What I’d really like to experience is one of those 30 keeper days we had this past summer in the boat, but from the beach obviously.
To increase my odds of encountering a big school of migrating bass I’ve been sticking to fishing “routes” where I know from past experience large schools of big bass roam into. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so timing, tide, wind direction and mobility all play a big role.
Check out the below video to get a better idea of what I mean.
Tides and Techniques
When fishing a beach front or a boulder field I have always had my best success during the incoming tide. Boulder fields seem to fish better during the first part of the incoming tide, while sandy beach fronts seem to fish better during the last part of the incoming tide.
The openings of inlets can fish well during various stages of the tide, however I almost always have my best success during the outgoing.
If you are interested in a truly big bass this October from the suds I would recommend fishing eels or chunk menhaden/pogie. I have a friend who did well this past week on fish up to 25 pounds chunking pogies in the areas mentioned in the above video, so I may give that a good effort this week.
I also don’t think it hurts to chum the shoreline, whether you are fishing live eels or chunking. Cut up some small pieces of pogie or mackerel and walk down along the shore, tossing chunks as you go. This way you’ll create a 100 yard or longer (depending on how far you want to walk) line of chummed shoreline.
Having all that scent in the water certainly can’t hurt. Often times when I’m out in the boat we will find bass just out of reach of surf casters. I think chumming the shore line could increase your odds of attracting those bass which are “just out reach” in closer to the shore where you can cast to them.
I’ve also been experimenting with using floats when the wind is blowing offshore. Essentially I have been using the wind to my advantage, and allow it to blow the float (and attached bait) way the heck offshore.
I’ll put together a post about this technique at some point, maybe once I actually catch a fish using floats! Although I have not hooked up yet, I know this technique will work as it allows me to get an eel or chunk bait 200 plus yards offshore if the wind is really blowing.
This weekend looks breezy but that could be a good thing for the surf casting crowd. A strong NW wind could really turn things on at the Bay side beaches and up around Provincetown.
This time of the year I have no trouble putting in long hours on the sand. After all, it really is now or never so go catch ‘em up!
Take care and good luck,