September 18 2022

The Best Morning of Striped Bass Fishing I’ve Had All Season Long!

by Ryan Collins

*I first reported about this trip here inside our members' forum. Please visit the forum for the most recent reports, updates and information.

I wasn't even sure if I was going to go fishing when I awoke on the morning of Tuesday September 6th. It was 3:40 AM and I was laying awake in bed pondering whether or not to go. Rain was coming down outside my bedroom window and I could hear the east wind rustling the leaves in the forest where I live.

Nevertheless I decided I had to give it a shot. I had received some amazing intel the day before from some of the members inside our forum. A couple of the members had encountered an awesome bite over the weekend while fishing the Cape's beaches. Hearing about their success gave me the inspiration I needed to get out of bed and go fishing in the rain.

September Surfcasting on Cape Cod

As I headed down the mid-Cape highway it was pitch black and raining buckets. The east wind had ushered in plenty of precipitation which I figured would only help my odds of catching a big striped bass during daylight hours. Usually I surfcast the beach at night, but when it's cloudy, rough and windy, I get excited to go fishing during the day.

Once I arrived at the beach it was clear that it was not going to be a busy day. I was the only truck in the parking lot and the only angler in sight. I began making my way down the beach to a spot in this general area of the Cape that's produced well for me in the past. However, I haven't fished this particular beach in about two years.

Insane Pencil Popper Action

To start, I tied on my old reliable Guppy pencil popper. These poppers are made by Wayne Hess, a man who has done nothing but treat me with kindness over the years. I cast the popper out into the surf  as waves were crashing all around. I could smell the salt in the air and I felt a big sense of relief - as if all of my cares had just been blow away in the breeze, through the dunes and into some far off hollow.

As soon as the popper hit the water, and before I could add any action whatsoever, a huge striper came up and slammed the plug right on the surface. It was at this moment that I knew I was in for an amazing morning of fishing.

The bass put up a great fight and pulled plenty of line. Eventually I landed the fish and it was one of the healthiest and best-looking stripers I've caught from shore so far this year!

Watch Out for the Undertow!

I released the bass in good shape while paying special attention to the surf as it rolled in. The waves were rather big and there was a powerful undertow. I knew I needed to be very careful releasing this fish. I waited for a wave to crash and for the water to come rushing up the slope of the beach. I moved into ankle deep water and let the receding water carry the bass down the sand and into the ocean.

The surf was up this morning and even in just ankle deep water I could feel the undertow. An undertow is a type of ocean current that is caused by waves breaking on the shore. Water rushes up the beach slope and then gets pulled back towards the ocean. On a calm day the undertow is insignificant, but on days when the waves are big (like this morning) the undertow can be downright frightening. 

An undertow can take your feet out from under you and knock you down. If you can swim and you're wearing a bathing suit, then it's not that big of a deal. However, if you are wearing waders (especially waders and no wading belt) then getting knocked down in the surf can quickly turn into a serious situation - as I would soon find out firsthand.

On my second cast I got another big hit and hooked up with another quality striped bass. After landing and releasing that fish I knew there could be a school of hundreds, possibly thousands of stripers holding in the surf directly in front of where I was fishing. 

"What an amazing stroke of luck!" I thought to myself. This was especially true considering how I almost decided to stay in bed.

Switching Over to Inline Single Hooks

It was at this point, I decided to switch up poppers. Instead of using a popper with treble hooks, I switched over to a slightly smaller pencil that was rigged with BKK Lone Diablo inline singles. There's no doubt in my mind that using treble hooks will hook more fish when fishing a pencil popper. However, when the action is hot and heavy, treble hooks can injure fish unnecessarily, and it makes it a lot more difficult to quickly release fish.

That's why I decided to use a popper with inline singles. It would make releasing the fish much easier and safer for me and for the fish. Sure I would miss a few fish here and there, but it was worth it in my opinion.

Every single cast was producing action and the scene was absolutely amazing to me. How many fish could be holding in the surf? As I alluded to earlier, there must of been hundreds, if not thousands of stripers.

There were now birds working over blitzing stripers a few hundred yards offshore, but there were also bass were about 20 feet off the beach in the crest of the first waves. 

Always Wear Your Wading Belt

Eventually I noticed another angler to my right, and then a second angler behind him. I made another cast and caught another fish. That's when I looked up and noticed that something was going on down the beach with one of the anglers. It appeared he had been hit by a wave and was struggling to regain his footing. I ran over to the scene and offered my assistance.

The angler was not wearing a wading belt and his waders had filled up with water. He was having a difficult time getting up and was being pulled down with each crashing wave. Fortunately, with a little assistance, the angler was able to doggy crawl himself out of the surf to dry land.

It just goes to show the importance of wearing a wading belt. Wading belts, when fastened tightly around the waist, help to prevent water from filling your waders. Wearing a wading belt can literally save your life if you get knocked over by a big wave.

It also goes to show that it pays to not enter the water when fishing the beaches of the outer Cape when there's a good surf rolling in. As I mentioned earlier when discussing undertows - when a wave crashes, it pushes water up onto the beach, and that water gets pulled down back into the ocean with a lot of force. It's very easy to lose your footing and find yourself in a sticky situation, which is exactly what happened to this angler. I'm not sure what would've happened if he had been alone and did not receive assistance.

After dealing with that situation, I said goodbye and walked back to my spot and instantly continued catching fish. After catching a few more slot-size bass on the pencil with in-line single hooks, I decided to switch up lures and start experimenting with different styles of plugs.

The Joebaggs Sandeels

I knew the 1.5oz Joebagss Sand Eel that I was carrying in my plug bag wouldn't cast particularly well into the east wind, but I was curious to see if it would work.

Sure enough the fish that were holding in the first wave, just a mere 10 or so yards off the shoreline, immediately engulfed the sandeel.

After catching a fish with the white sandeel, I decided to try the green pattern sandeel, and that produced equally as well.

The Joebaggs Peanut Resin

Next up I decided to try a 3oz Joebaggs Peanut Resin Jig. This is an aerodynamic lure that imitates peanut bunker and casts a mile. I fired a long cast into the breeze and reeled the jig quickly just beneath the surface.

It only took a few turns of the handle and I was on with another quality striped bass. It was a beautiful fish that was released in very good shape, especially considering I was using a single hook.

A steady retrieve with the Peanut Resin seemed to work best. I did experiment using a jigging style retrieve but it didn't work. The jigging style is probably better suited for fishing deeper areas with a swift current, such as the Cape Cod Canal.

Sharing the Surfcasting Experience

It was at this point that I noticed a gentleman had stopped to watch me fish. He recognized me as Ryan from My Fishing Cape Cod and he introduced himself. His name was Keith and he was visiting from Saratoga, New York.

The fishing was so good that I offered Keith the opportunity to make some casts using my rod and reel. Keith jumped at the opportunity and started fishing.

He immediately started getting hits from bass. It took a just a little bit of practice until he caught on with the technique of working a pencil popper and he soon began hooking up.

One of the fish that Keith hooked into was a real beauty and after an awesome fight I was able to land the bass for him and snap some pictures. Keith said it was the highlight of his vacation and he was so nice and so grateful for the opportunity.

If you're reading this Keith it was a pleasure meeting you and I hope we can fish together again sometime in the future!

The awesome fishing continued and I was wondering what could possibly happen next. That's about when I noticed a different angler to the north of my position...

Another Plea for Help!

The angler was frantically waving his hands in a plea for help. I had no idea what was going on, but I sprinted down the shoreline to check it out. Once I got there it was clear that this angler needed help removing a treble hook from his finger. 

While unhooking a striper the fish had thrashed, and embedded the hook right through his finger. Fortunately the hook had gone completely through his finger, so the first thing we tried was crushing down the barb and backing the hook out. Unfortunately this didn't work as well as we had hoped.

That's when I remembered that my Van Staal pliers had a seriously powerful line cutter on them. I had never used the line cutter to cut through a hook, but I figured it was worth a try. I crimped down on the shank of the hook with the line cutters and they had no trouble slicing through the hook. Success!

It just goes to show it can pay to invest in high quality pliers. The angler was very grateful and he got right back to fishing and catching. I was very impressed by the day in general, and hoped that it would not get any crazier!

Close Encounter with a Gray Seal

Up until this point the one thing that was not yet an issue were the seals. Sure enough, just as I was thinking about the lack of seals, a big gray seal weighing hundreds of pounds came surfing over the crest of a wave. Of course I hooked up with a striper, and the huge seal gave chase.

My only chance to save the fish from being eaten by the seal was to palm my spool (which would prevent the drag from allowing any line off the reel) and back up the beach as fast as I could. The seal was a mere two to three feet away from the striper's tail.

With all my might I dragged the fish out of the surf and onto the sand just in the nick of time.  It was this striper's lucky day! I unhooked the fish, released him, and hopefully he made it back out to sea without being attacked by the seal.

After the seal encounter I finally decided to call it a day. It had been three plus hours of striper action on nearly every single cast. It was beautiful knowing that there were so many stripers out there. We're really fortunate to be able to experience fishing like this on Cape Cod.

The Next Morning

The next morning I awoke at 4am and returned to the same beach in this general area of the Cape. However, instead of fishing, I wanted to try filming different types of underwater video of striped bass in the surf. If the school of stripers was still there, then I had high hopes of capturing some epic underwater footage.

Conditions were very similar to the day before, except it was no longer raining. I hiked down the beach and while en route to the spot I spotted two longtime members of My Fishing Cape Cod.

Dex Chadsey and Tom Simpson were fishing about one hundred yards away and it appeared they were both hooked up with fish! I watched them fight, land, and release the bass, and then I got to chatting with the guys about what they were encountering.

Dex and Tom told me that these were their first bass of the morning. They also told me they had fished the night before, along with quite a few other anglers, but that nobody had caught anything.

I was surprised to hear that nobody had caught anything during the night, but I was by no means shocked. It really is not unusual for a large biomass of stripers to move offshore or to a different area down the beach.

For all we knew there could be thousands of stripers about to charge the shoreline. I gave Dex and Tom my report about the epic fishing I had encountered the previous morning. We all hoped that perhaps the fish would show up again in those amazing numbers.

It never ended up happening. I caught one 40 incher on my first cast and then that was it. Neither myself, Tom or Dex caught a thing the rest of the morning. I figured that the biomass of stripers was probably somewhere in the general area, but they could've moved offshore  out of casting range, or were miles down the beach.

We fished up and down the shoreline without generating any bites. By now the clouds had parted and the sun was shining brightly onto the beach. The air was starting to warm and it began to feel like a nice summer day on Cape Cod. I decided to call it quits and head back to my truck.

In Conclusion

Daytime foul-weather surfcasting is one of my favorite things to do. I feel the fish bite better and I enjoy being outside in windy and rainy conditions. Nevertheless you need to be cautious if plan on doing this sort of fishing.

Wearing a wading belt can save your life if get knocked over in the surf. Get yourself a high quality belt (not the stretchy elastic ones) and be sure to wear it, especially when surfcasting in rough weather.

Having a pair of pliers that can cut through the shank of a hook, or investing in a more heavy duty set of bolt cutters can save you from a trip to the hospital. Using plugs with single in-line hooks can help decrease the chances of getting hooked in the first place.

I am very grateful to have been given the gift of experiencing such a fantastic morning of fishing. The people I met and were able to help, as well as the nature, and the beauty of a powerful surf, made this a day I will reminisce for many years to come.

You can experience a day of fishing like this too. The only thing that needs to happen is for the stars to align.

Good intel plus the willingness to keep trying is the secret sauce. Weeks and even months might go by, but eventually the fish will cooperate and you'll find yourself in the right spot at the right time. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this long winded account of a day we all dream about. This land, the striped bass, and the waters surrounding the peninsula we call Cape Cod have provided me with so much, and for that I will always be grateful.

Tight lines! 🎣

What do you think?

Please let me know by leaving a comment below!

About the author 

Ryan Collins

I'm fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I've been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  • Great article Ryan and I just purchased myself a pair of those bold cutters you linked to for my boat. I’ve always figured it’s a matter of time before someone, most likely me, hooks themselves and I want to be prepared. Thanks for the continuing education.

  • Ryan, my son, his fiancee and I encountered a similar blitz of stripers on Labor Day from 5 pm to about 8 pm (that’s when we quit) along with about 40 other anglers off Nauset Beach. Everybody was using white jigs with tails and just about every cast produced a hit. You don’t forget days like that. My future daughter-in-law caught her first striper that day which we measured to be 41 inches before releasing it. She is definitely hooked on surf casting.

    • Wow! What an awesome family experience that must of been! I am sure you’ll all be remembering that day for many years to come. 41 inches for a first striper is nuts! It took me years of trying before I ever caught a fish that big, LOL. Thanks for the comment and I hope all of you are able to get back to the Cape and fish together soon. 🎣

  • I like your article Ryan, simple but relating to a variety of conditions and topics that may come up any given fishing day. And yes, make sure you wear a wading belt with the waders; I couldn’t imagine not wearing one. It could save your life!

    • I love hearing that John. Sharing the experience of fishing on Cape Cod is what this website is all about. I hope you’re enjoying Vermont! It must be gorgeous up there this time of the year, especially once the fall foliage really gets going. Keep in touch!

  • Very enjoyable to read and you can always learn something new! Your tips on safety are important, as accidents happen when least expected. Thanks Ryan!

    • It’s certainly easy to get knocked over by a wave, especially in the excitement and heat of the moment. I hope all is well Ron and that you’re able to get out in your boat a few more times before the season winds down!

  • Wow! talk about being in the right place at the right time for many reasons. Exciting blog to read! Congrats on all your success in the rough weather! Super lucky for the anglers that you helped! Thanks for all you do to to promote safety for anglers and for fish! My fishing experiences are far less than yours but I use single hooks as much as I can, even for fresh water ( I cut 2 barbs off of those tiny treble hooks). Thanks again!

    • I love how empathetic you are with the fish Leslie. I know you enjoy fishing, but I also know you often feel bad about hooking the fish! I think it’s important to have empathy for the fish and I appreciate where you’re coming from. I’m glad you and Mike are home safe from your trip to Alaska. I hope to read about it in the forum!

  • Great article! I rarely use trebles for anything nowadays. I’ve migrated over most of my plugs (often with a single hook, not multiples), and use a lot of jigs with various decorations. If I”m on a boat, it becomes pretty easy to keep the fish in the water, grab his lower jaw with your thumb or a grip tool for blues, and just back out the lure. Ryan 1, seals 0. 🙂

    • This past weekend I was using in-line single hooks on my albie jigs. After I dropped two albies in a row on the in-line singles, I switched over to treble hooks and landed my next two fish. Now that I have a couple albies under my belt, I will probably switch back to using in-line singles during my next trip out. For me at least I think the trebles hook more fish, but the singles are definitely easier to deal with and are better for the fish! Thanks for the comment Paul. Good luck if you head out this week. 🎣

  • Those times when a variety of experiences come together are the ones that sustain us and keep us coming back. It was great to fish with you. Just like the old days!

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