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First Keeper Striped Bass of Season Caught at Cape Cod Canal

Many Cape Cod fishermen said the bass would be back early this year.  This past winter was more of an elongated cool start to spring than anything else.  Water temps have been way above normal.   Right now some areas around Cape Cod have water that is in the mid to high 50's.  I'm happy to report that all of those fishermen who predicted an early run of striped bass seem to so far be 100% correct!

I recall past seasons when we caught plenty of small striped bass up in creeks, estuaries and way back in harbors.  Most of these fish were extremely tiny, with a few under 12 inches in length.  Catching micro-schoolies (as we referred t them) was and still is pretty common for the month of April.

On Cape Cod you usually have to wait until May to see any stripers with real size.  The first few keepers are generally on the small side, barely eclipsing the 28 inch recreational limit.

I personally have never caught a keeper striped bass prior to May 1st.  I do know some slick fishermen who have been able to catch fresh migratory keepers in April, however they are generally pretty hard to come by.

That's why I was extremely surprised to hear that a 32 inch keeper striper had been caught this past week in the Cape Cod Canal.

Usually a fish tale like this would bring out the skeptic in me, however the report came from as reliable a source as any-Jeff Miller from Canal Bait and Tackle.

For those who don't know Jeff, he helps to run his family's bait shop - Canal Bait and Tackle.  Needless to say if something interesting happens at the Canal, Jeff usually knows about it.

According to Jeff a young angler managed to wrestle a 32 incher from the Big Ditch just a couple of days ago on April 18th.  Some of the regulars at the shop said the earliest they had ever heard of a keeper taken from the Canal was April 10th, which occurred many decades ago.

There was plenty of mackerel in Cape Cod Bay not too long ago and pogies and herring have all been spotted inside the Canal.  With the latest report of this keeper it seems that the stage is now set for something special to occur at the Canal.  Could we see a pre-May striped bass blitz?

Of course only time will tell for sure.  I think we may be in for a very interesting, and very fun spring fishing season!

If you are new to the blog and want to learn more about catching spring time striped bass at the Canal, be sure to check out this post.

Tight lines and take care,

Ryan

eCourse part 2 | An Overview of the Cape Cod Canal

The Cape Cod Canal is a very interesting place to wet a line. Actually, I really cannot think of a more unique place to fish, especially from shore.

In this section I am going to share with you an overview of the Canal.

We'll take a look at the Canal's structure and life. At the end we'll talk about how striped bass use the Canal for migration and feeding purposes.

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Canal eCourse part 1 | Must Know Cape Cod Canal Lingo

If you are serious about learning how to catch striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal, then it's important to understand at least some Canal lingo.  On top of that, if you are hoping to blend in well with the regular Canal fishing crowd, then learning proper Canal etiquette is a must.

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3 Waying Live Eels in Rips for Striped Bass

Striped bass fishing is pretty unique if you think about it.  What other fish species can be targeted in open water, up tight to the beachfront, in rivers, harbors, bays, canals, estuaries, rips, rock piles, shoals, and drop-offs as well as in a variety of other interesting environments.   Without a doubt the striped bass is a very dynamic and opportunistic fish species.

Maybe this helps to explain why so many striped bass flock to Cape Cod each season.  The Cape has just about every striped bass environment imaginable.  Stripers can be found from the boulder strewn coastline of the Elizabeth Islands to the tidal flats of Brewster and virtually everywhere in between.

Some of the most unique Cape Cod striped bass fishing environments are places with extraordinary current.  In particular I am envisioning areas where a strong tidal flow is squeezed through harbor openings, creeks, channels and island passageways.   These types of areas present an interesting feeding opportunity for stripers and often attract big striped bass like clockwork.

Of course there are never any guarantees when it comes to striped bass.  However bass do seem to behave with a reasonable amount of predictability when they settle into rips and areas with intense current-especially contrasted to how they behave in open water, structure-less zones.

In my experience the best fishing in current laden areas occurs around forms of structure.  A deep hole or rocky peak jutting up from the ocean bottom is a good place to start.  When the current is really cranking bass will settle down deep in a hole or behind a rocky peak.  Picture it like a pedestrian using a building to block a stiff breeze.  The stripers successfully get out of the current, and can still keep a keen eye out for any bait that may be tumbling by in the current.

cape cod striped bass fishing

3 way swivels come in super handy when fishing current laden areas.

Usually the key for fishing these types of spots is to get your bait or jig right along the bottom, in tight to the piece of structure.  This can be accomplished in many different ways; however my favorite method is to 3-way live eels.

A 3-way swivel is a nifty little piece of terminal tackle that makes fishing rips and channels much easier.  The main line is tied to one arm of the 3-way, a leader and hook to another, and a sinker to the third. Basically it’s the easiest way I know of to get a big eel straight to the bottom, even when the current is cooking.

The most crucial component of 3-waying eels is the angler’s ability to keep the eel right along the bottom, which is usually where the bass are.  Unfortunately this is also where all the snags, weeds and rocks reside. It takes a little practice (and about 100 lost rigs!) but once you get a feel for it you can literally bounce the eel off the bottom and smack it directly into rocks without getting hung up.

In areas with a real swift current it’s not uncommon to use as much as 10 ounces of weight.  A regular old bank sinker typically does the trick.  Just be sure to tie the bank sinker to the 3-way using a Palomar knot and not an overhand or Trilene knot-to help prevent the knot from slipping.

The way you gauge how much weight to use is pretty simple.  Try a drift using, say 4 ounces as an example.  If during the drift you are having trouble detecting bottom and keeping your line near vertical then you most likely need more weight.  If you can detect bottom easily and keep the line near vertical then 4 ounces or less is probably a pretty good weight.  As the current increases and decreases it’s often best to add or lose weight accordingly.

If you are fishing a real dramatic rip, ledge or hole it may be necessary to constantly adjust the amount of line you keep out during the drift.  As you drift up the front side of the rid, it makes sense to reel in some line.  As you fall off the backside of the rip into deeper water, it’s usually best to drop the rig directly to the bottom of the hole.

cape cod striped bass fishing

Use as little weight as necessary to keep the line nearly vertical during the drift.

So to make a long story short, concentrate on always keeping the eel just above the bottom while keeping your line nearly vertical.

The most exciting part about catching big stripers using this method is the initial bite.  Bass that are feeding in the current hit so much harder and with much more vigor than bass residing in open water.  These guys absolutely crush the eel and can jerk the rod right out of your hands if you’re not paying attention.

I like to use circle hooks in these situations because it makes the hook setting process simple and easy.  When the bass bites, I like to lower the rod tip and point it directly at the water.  As hard as it is for me to resist setting the hook I try to allow the bass  to get the line tight.  This usually takes 1-3 seconds (although it feels like much longer!).  Then you just start cranking and hand on-no need to set the hook.

Because this technique relies a lot on a fisherman’s ability to “feel” the bottom and “detect” bites, braided line is the most recommended line for the job.  Distinguishing bites from bottom is a breeze with 40 or 50 pound Power Pro, because braided line has next to no stretch.  Trying to hold bottom in heavy current with monofilament is much more challenging.

Surprisingly lead core line also performs well when it comes to 3-waying eels.  So no worries if all you have on the boat are trolling setups.  Lead core is colored differently every 10 yards, so it is very easy to gauge how much line you have out.  Knowing how much line is in the water can help prevent getting snagged on the bottom.

Having the boat positioned in the right zone through a drift is also very important.  You definitely don’t want to waste time on a poor drift route, especially when the bite is hot.  Using your sonar be sure to mark the exact location of the fishy structure.  Motor a bit up current of the structure and position the boat in a way that will bring the boat directly over the structure.  Kick the engine into neutral, drop the eels to the bottom and drift on through.

I’d say the majority of bites usually come from fish that are sitting directly in the hole or behind the rip.  However bites will often times come from fish positioned in front of the leading edge of the rip, on top of rip and even well behind the hole.  The most important tip I can provide is to just be ready at all times, or you may lose a rod and reel over the side (which has happened to me on numerous occasions!).

cape cod striped bass fishing

In big current, most big bass will position themselves around and directly behind pieces of current-blocking structure.

I never catch many fish 3-waying rips during slack tide.  Moving water does a great job of concentrating stripers around structure.  When the tide slacks off, I think the fish leave the rips and holes and venture around a bit.  Of course we have caught fish 3-waying during slack; however the fishing is almost always better when the tide is cranking.

As previously mentioned, expect to lose some rigs to the bottom-especially when you are just starting out with 3-waying.  When you do get hung up on the bottom, consider immediately snapping the line instead of fiddling around in a powerful current and rip.  If I get snagged on the bottom when the current is cooking, I’ll immediately wrap the line around the handle of a gaff and just hold on.  Often times the entire rig will break free from the snag.  If that doesn’t happen the line will quickly part.  Usually the line snaps at the leader, which is obviously much better than simply cutting your line at the rod tip.

That’s about it as far as 3-waying eels is concerned!  Stay tuned for an upcoming members post about some of the best Cape Cod fishing spots for 3-waying.

Tight lines and good luck live eel striped bass fishing this season.  And of course if you find this article helpful, please take a second to share it on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below.

Thanks!

Ryan

First Striped Bass of the Year Reported off Cape Cod

Update - My Fishing Cape Cod will be expanding this season by offering in-depth, detailed and accurate Cape Cod fishing reports to subscribed member.  To become a member today for $1, click here.  As always, thank you for the great support!

They're here!

Rumors have been flying around for a few days now about fresh, migratory schoolie striped bass being caught at specific locations off the southern side of Cape Cod.  I'm usually pretty skeptical with regards to these first reports, especially considering the latest bluefish report  (which I believe was an April Fool's joke).

However these latest striped bass reports are no joke.

For the past few weeks good striped bass fishing has been reported off Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Apparently over the past few days the most adventurous of these bass have decided to head even further north and are now within reach of Cape Cod anglers.

The news isn't terribly surprising, considering how warm this past winter was.  Water temperatures are way above normal and have been for months.  Could these warmer than usual water temps spark an earlier than typical spring migration for striped bass?

So far it appear so.

Click here for the full report.

Man does it feel good to be writing fishing reports again!

Tight lines and best of luck with these early season micro-schoolies,

Ryan

Stellwagen Bank’s Incredible Fishery

Ryan Collins

Stellwagen Bank is one of the coolest places to wet a line on Cape Cod. You never know what you might encounter!

The Bank is located about 19 miles from Plymouth, 27 miles from the Cape Cod Canal and 6 or so miles from Provincetown.  That is relatively close to shore as far as tuna fishing is concerned.

For example where I fish in Costa Rica, boats regularly make runs of 50-80 miles offshore to find tuna.

According to NOAA, Stellwagen is the result of the retreat of the last great ice sheet - the Laurentide Ice Sheet.  Odds are that the same ice sheet is responsible for the formation of Cape Cod.  

The Stellwagen Bank of today is the result of 25,000 years of geological activity.

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Spring Time at the Cape Cod Canal


The spring-time arrival of the striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal is one of the most highly anticipated fishing events of the entire season. Six long months of no striped bass is quickly replaced by top water blitzes, beautiful mornings and fantastic striped bass fishing.

The first striped bass of the year at the Canal generally arrive early in May and are typically on the smaller side.

A lot of guys do pretty well on these small fish which is great. However I usually find myself fishing estuaries and the beachfront during the first week of May. I tend to wait and fish the Canal when the bigger bass begin to filter though.

These much larger striped bass pass through the Canal beginning at some point in mid-May. By the end of the month a steady stream of 15-60 pound striped bass are filtering into and out of the land cut.

Most of these schools of striped bass are using the Canal for feeding and migration purposes. Over the past few springs the Canal has boasted astounding amounts of mackerel, herring and menhaden during the spring. Couple these forage fish with the lobsters, crabs and other Canal creatures roaming the bottom and the table is set for epic striped bass fishing. In addition to great feeding opportunities the Cape Cod Canal also significantly reduces the overall mileage that these fish need to log in order to reach their summer feeding grounds. To put it simply, the Cape Cod Canal is a food-filled shortcut that large schools of striped bass find very alluring.

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Martha’s Vineyard | Squibnocket Beach


I remember starting to feel a little nervous as we trudged along the Vineyard Sound side of the Elizabeth Islands towards Woods Hole. We had enjoyed a beautiful flat calm morning, but now the prevailing summer southwest breeze had kicked up to over 20 knots.

What that translated into was a steady diet of 2-4 foot waves. 2-4 foot waves does not present much of a problem for many larger, deep V vessels, however at the time we were stuck in a small, flat bottom Carolina Skiff. Believe me when I tell you that 2-4 foot waves in a small, flat bottom skiff is an absolute nightmare.

It took us a good 5 hours to reach Woods Hole. Unfortunately the tide was running against the wind, which created even scarier sea conditions. Whenever a strong tide or current is running against a stiff breeze, sea conditions worsen and the potential for standing waves and abnormally large waves increases.

With life jackets securely fastened we entered some of the worst sea conditions I have ever experienced. If we were lucky the skiff would ride up the face of a wave and down the backside without any problem. However every 30 seconds or so we'd hear a large bang! as the flat bottom hull caught a wave the wrong way. This of course resonated through the entire skiff and crew, throwing everyone off balance and drenching my father, myself and my friend Jason with sea water.

Finally after 6 hours of trudging along we reached Green Harbor in Falmouth. Our 3 hour tour had turned into a day long trek back to safety. We had successfully missed baseball practice and given my mom quite the scare. It had been one of my first Vineyard Sound fishing experiences, and needless to say I was not terribly eager to fish the area again anytime soon.

However I knew that Vineyard Sound produced a lot of big bass. I was 14 or 15 years old at the time and I was determined to get in on the incredible fishing I had read and heard about. During this time the chum and chunk and yo-yo bite off the Vineyard was in full swing. A family friend of ours would torment me with incredible stories about acres of big bass, slurping down chunks of pogie with such aggression and vigor that you could literally "hear them slurping" once the bite got going.

Of course at the time I had absolutely no idea how to catch striped bass chunking or yo-yoing. I still consider myself a rookie chunker and I have never caught a bass yo-yoing. Yet there is something exciting about fishing a completely new area via a completely new technique.

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Cape Cod’s Early Season Striped Bass Fishing Hot Spots

Could the weather have been any better this winter?

I feel as if the winter never really happened here on Cape Cod, or really anywhere in New England for that matter.  As I write this I am enjoying a nice "spring-like" breeze that is blowing through many of the open windows in the house.  It's 50 plus degrees and sunny at the moment with tomorrow's temperatures expected to be in the mid 60's.  Unreal!

The warm winter weather has kept water temperatures well above normal.  From what I have heard Cape Cod Bay is about 2-3 degrees warmer than usual for this time of the year.  How this will affect the 2012 saltwater fishing season is yet to be determined.

Some folks believe that this year's fishing will be a little off due to the extraordinarily warm winter we have been having.  However all current signs seem to be pointing to the contrary.

I'm really looking forward to this season because it will be my first year of providing in-depth and detailed Cape Cod fishing reports for subscribers to the blog.  To access premium fishing reports during the 2012 season, considering becoming a member.  Right now you can sign up for just $1.

Click here to check it out.

I'm also looking forward to this season because I think the incredibly high amount of whale and dolphin activity this past winter in Cape Cod Bay bodes extremely well for the upcoming striped bass season.

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Snow Storm Striped Bass – a 2011 Reader Story

Well we have crossed the mid-way point of the winter, which means we only have around 2.5 months until the first stripers of 2012 will be trickling into Cape Cod's waters.  To help get through these tough last couple of months, here's a story from Captain Paul Peluso about a late October 2011 trip.

Hopefully we'll see plenty of bass like the one below in 2012!

If you have a story and photo from an awesome 2011 trip that you'd like to share, feel free to send it along to misslorettafishing@gmail.com.

Take care,

Ryan

Submitted by Captain Paul Peluso

With the pending Big Nor’easter coming I made the 5 AM call to try a sneak a trip in before the heavy rain and wind. Sent a few messages out, had Neil respond and Junior on standby. Junior, who just the other day landed a nice 26 lb striper was surf fishing from the East Jetty all night long with no luck.

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