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A Simple Plan for Catching your First Striper of 2013

With the new My Fishing Cape Cod site successfully launched,  it's now time to get back to blogging about Cape Cod fishing spots, fishing techniques and all the other "fun stuff."  Thank goodness nothing was lost or broken during the transfer to the new site - what a relief!   Of course if you find something that looks funky or is not working, by all means please let me know.

I received an email today from a gentleman asking me what kind of fish he could catch during March off the breakwater in Provincetown.  My response..."I have no idea!"  Well actually he could probably scrape up a winter flounder, stray cod or some other bottom fish.  However it is still pretty early for most of us, especially if migratory striped bass are on your mind.

Nevertheless I give this hardy soul a lot of credit.  He has the fishing bug and a bad case of cabin fever.  I would imagine that you too may be feeling a bit like this guy.  Believe me I need to get back out on the water ASAP.  The good news is that in less than 2 months many Cape Cod fishing spots will see their first batch of migratory stripers.

Do you have a plan for finding and catching one of these late April Cape Cod striped bass?  If not then no worries, because I am going to help you develop one in the remainder of this post.

When to Get off the Couch and Go Fishing

fishing on Cape Cod spots

Usually by April 15th rumors start trickling into tackle shops and online forums about fresh line sides being caught.  You can tell if the bass are migratory because they will look bright, clean and often have sea lice crawling all over them.  Holdover striped bass on the other hand generally look more dull and typically do not have sea lice.

These fish are moving up from the south, so if you start hearing about a good bite happening down in Rhode Island you can rest assured that a biomass of fish is on its way to Cape Cod.  These first striped bass will be on the small side with the average fish well under "keeper" size.

The good news is that most of these bass will be very aggressive.  I remember when I was younger having days in late April and early May when my father, my buddy Jason Mazzola and I would catch 50 or more schoolies from the beach.  All these bass were in less than 6 feet of water and quite literally paved the beach front.

Things recently have not been so hot and heavy, however during 2012 there seemed to be a pretty good amount of small fish in many fishing spots on Cape Cod.  I didn't have any 50 fish days from shore but I was able to locate and catch plenty of early season fish.  The key as usual was finding productive spring-time Cape Cod fishing spots.

Early Season Cape Cod Fishing Spots

If you are looking for a place to catch an early season striper while fishing the Cape, I would recommend hopping on Google Earth.  You can use Google Earth to zone in on productive estuaries, channels, harbors and boulder fields.  These are all good surf fishing spots to check out early in the season.

Estuaries in particular are proven spring time hot spots.  For example, below is a screen shot of a typical Cape Cod estuary.

fishing spots on cape cod massachusetts

This particular estuary is on the southside of Cape Cod.  If you look closely in the image you'll see two jetties which would make nice casting platforms.  There is also a deep channel entering the bay surrounded by shallower flats.

More often than not, especially if the tide is cranking, your best bet in a spot like this one would be to fish right in the current.  Think deep for the most part and use lures that will sink down a little in the water column.  When fishing a new estuary, I always like to time my trip during the outgoing - at least for the first trip to a new Cape Cod fishing spot.  It's OK you can call me superstitious!

The beachfront to the left and right of estuaries can also be a good area to cast.  This was the case back when I was a kid, when we used to regularly catch 50 or more schoolies during a single spring time Cape Cod surf fishing trip.  Back then we actually did better fishing the beachfront to the left and right of the estuary, as opposed to the estuary itself.

The flats areas which are more brownish/greenish in the above image are good places to cast top water plugs and lures.  This rings especially true during sunrise and sunset.

My #1 Most Favorite Spring Time Lure

cape cod spring surf fishing spots

I vividly remember fishing with Mazzola one day back when we were maybe 15 years old.  Of course we made the fishing trip into a heated competition by keeping tally of how many stripers we caught.

I was tossing my favorite spring time lure combination back on that fateful day 12 years ago.  If you are looking for a go-to spring time lure then consider using a white curly tail grub on a quarter ounce lead head, with a Red Gill teaser tide to a swivel a few feet in front of the curly tail.  This is what I was using this particular day, which I still remember very well.

I don't usually toot my own horn but I was smoking the fish with the Red Gill while Mazzola went almost fish-less.  The great thing about the Red Gill is that you can catch two bass at one time.  If the fish are in thick, you can hook one on the curly tail grub and another on the Red Gill.  It's pretty cool and a lot of fun.

At the time I was convinced that I did not have any extra Red Gills with me.  Believe me I would have given Mazzola one if I thought I had an extra.  I searched my tackle pack and came up empty.  Only problem was as soon as I got home I found an extra Red Gill right there in my pocket.

I still think he holds that one against me.  Sorry Maz!

If you can get your hand on some Red Gills this spring I would highly recommend giving them a toss around an estuary.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then click here for some images of Red Gills.  For early season bass, I would recommend using the smaller or mid-size version.  The larger Red Gills work well once the bigger bass move into the Cape Cod area.

Bringing it all Together

Of course there are about 1,000 more ways to catch a striper during spring time on Cape Cod.  Which means I have plenty more content for blog posts!

Before we know it spring will be here and it will be GO TIME once again.  Until then, please feel free to leave a comment below.  It's always great hearing from blog readers.

And be sure to check out our Membership Options.  We have plenty of content on the membership side of the blog to help you find and catch stripers this spring on Cape Cod.

Tight lines and take care,


cape cod massachusetts fishing spots

by Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins grew up on the beach, and has been fishing since he was 5. Ryan has great family, friends and fishing experiences to be grateful for. Just being there is enough...catching a few fish is always a bonus!

  1. hey ryan, my family and I are new to striper fishing this year and we have been bitten hard. we are looking to camp on cape cod in august. do you know of a campground on the shore of one of the hot spots for stripers? we are hoping you can suggest a place we can camp, fish and fish and catch early or late august better?

    1. Hi Eric,

      I can empathize with you on the tough striper fishing. I went through a slump of my own earlier this summer, so I was bitten pretty hard too. It happens to everyone.

      I think as late in August as possible would be best. Early to mid September would be most ideal. Shawme Crowell in the town of Sandwich would give you great access to the Canal and the beaches of Upper Cape Cod. Plus a friend of mine has camped there a few times and said it’s a really nice place.

      I hope that helps – keep me posted with how things are going.


  2. Ryan,

    I vacation with my family every year to CC. I always fish the ponds with my little brother, but now I want to look into saltwater fishing. I read your article about spring fishing but I will be heading to the cape in August. Will these techniques work (especially the Red Gills) in the summer.

    I will also be staying on the Town Cove in Orleans. If you have ever fished here can you tell me a couple of your spots and what you like to use?

    I am also looking to go on a fishing charter with my dad and brother. Is there any charter that are not too expensive and target blues and stripers?

    Thanks and sorry for the overload of questions


    1. Hi Liam,

      Red Gills will absolutely work during the summer. Great year round lure.

      I haven’t fished much right in Town Cove, but if I make it down there before your trip in August I will certainly let you know.

      As for charters, you may want to reach out to Jay from Laura Jay charters in Sandwich. Just head on over to

      Good captain, good crew and they catch fish.

      Tight lines!

  3. I completely understand your cabin fever Dan. I am really chomping at the bit over here.

    I’ll be interested in hearing if you happen to hook into anything. Keep us posted!

  4. Thanks for understanding my cabin fever!! My plan is to bring some live sand worms and try them out. Also bringing fish bites strips to try on a bottom rig with a pyramid sinker. Any and all thoughts are helpfull in my curing cabin fever . I’m just trying to hook into anything swimming !!! Thanks again Ryan !!

  5. Thanks John – bring on spring!

  6. They’ll be back soon! Nice job ont he new layout Ryan

    1. I have a small house in Sandwich across the parking lot of Hemosphere (formerly Horizons) restaurant. This is at the East End of the Canal
      I have fished the small cove next to the jetty, along the shore and all the way to OLD Mill Creek. I have never had much success. With the winter storms I shudder to think what the shoreline and creek look like now.
      Any suggestions on when, where and how I could increase my success rate and size of catch? I did once catch a huge fluke in the creek that weighed just over 6lbs.
      The grand kids want me to take them fishing and it may be difficult to live up to some of the stories I have told.

      1. Hi Bill,

        I know your area very well – recently I think the news cameras do too with all the winter storms and erosion we’ve been having. The snow will be behind us soon I think.

        Like you mentioned I have also accidentally caught fluke before in that area. I was fishing for bass so it was quite the surprise.

        Looks like the pressure is on for you this year, with the grand kids wanting to catch a few fish. LOL Sounds like fun to me.

        I’d recommend checking out the Membership side of the blog for information relating to your question. I have quite a few posts and articles that should help you out.

        Once you signup come back to this comment and click on the below links. They should help get you started on the right track.

        Also, feel free to post a question in the forum. You’ll always receive as in-depth a response from me as possible.


        Sandwich Boardwalk/Old Harbor/Mill Creek

        Secrets of Upper Cape Cod’s Beaches


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