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Tube and Worm Advanced Techniques for Big Striped Bass

The tube and worm is one the strangest, yet most effective methods of catching striped bass in the waters surrounding Cape Cod.  Three foot long tubes routinely catch two foot long striped bass.  18 inch tubes often catch bass pushing well into the 40 pound range.

Needless to say there is a lot of mystique surrounding this deadly technique.

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My Fishing Cape Cod Articles

These articles are for your benefit.  I have written them with you in mind.  From the beginner, to the seasoned veteran, I hope you can all take at least one piece of information with when you go.

None of us have all the answers!  I am also continuously learning, and believe me, I have a long way to go.  But learning is what this site is all about.  I wish you the best, and urge you to continue improving, and enjoying your time fishing Cape Cod.

Take care and tight lines,

Captain Ryan Collins

Tube and Worm Trolling for Big Striped Bass

Often time’s anglers become puzzled as to what bait or lure to use in a certain scenario.  There exists today hundreds of different ways to catch a striped bass.

Bass can be caught by fishing with mackerel, pogies, squid and herring.  Stripers are hooked by surface plugs, diving plugs, darters, shad bodies and jigs.  Linesiders are trolled up by bunker spoons, umbrella rigs and swimming plugs. The list goes on and on.

All the above mentioned methods will catch bass.  The problem is that not all of these methods always work.  If an angler is casting a bulky surface plug, but the bass are honed in on small sand eels, he is more than likely out of luck.

The choice is then left to the fisherman to decide what bait or lure will work on a given trip.  But is there one single method that will catch big bass all the time?

If there is, I am yet to discover it.

But by structuring a fishing trip around a single, proven “go-to” presentation, a fisherman can leave the docks with confidence, and easily eliminate half his tackle box.

Like many of you, I rely upon a $2 piece of surgical tubing to consistently put big bass in the boat.

Tube and Worm

Tubes work at night, as well as during the day.

The Tube and Worm

The tube and worm is no secret and for good reason.  Tubes are inexpensive and can be easily made at home.  Tubes catch inactive striped bass and also catch stripers that are actively feeding on baits that the tube does not imitate.

A tube will often work if bass are feeding on mackerel.  A tube will also work if bass are feeding on sand eels.  Obviously a tube will work if bass are feeding on two foot long worms.  Which leads to the debate around what a tube and worm rig actually imitates.

I firmly believe striped bass mistake tube and worm rigs for ribbon worms and large sandworms which reside in our area, and can grow to a length of four feet.  These worms are often reddish-pink or orange in color.  Ribbon worms also swim through the water in a spiraling motion.  Sandworms do more of a wiggle.

A 24 inch long ribbon worm, gyrating through the water, has an eerily similar resemblance to a properly trolled 24 inch long red tube.

If you are a striped bass accustomed to chasing speedy mackerel and ink filled squid, then catching a worm must be about as easy as it gets.  It may be the human equivalent of hitting up the drive-thru over expending the energy necessary to prepare a turkey dinner.

In this sense, I think bass possess a “why not?” attitude towards tube n’ worms.  I believe that even if bass are honed in on different bait, they will still eat a ribbon worm because it is so easy to capture.

Maximizing Time Spent On the Water

Enough time is spent on the water searching for fish, as discussed in Developing a Strategy for Finding Big Striped Bass and Tuna.

The last thing I want to do is waste time experimenting with different techniques and lure options when I finally locate an area holding big bass.  Rare are the days that a tube n’ worm will not catch a fish, when trolled through productive areas.

This makes it easy to feel confident knowing that the tube will more than likely prove interesting to a passing striped bass, no matter the weather conditions or the presence of particular bait.

Trolling three different tube and worm rigs at three different depths through an area holding fish will quickly tell me what length/color tube and what depth will be most productive.  Once a few fish are caught, I will have a pretty good sense as to the most productive tube and depth.  A quick adjustment to the other two tubes is all that is needed.

Thus we have three proven fish producing tube and worm rigs, all fishing at the proven fish producing depth.  It is a lot easier to consistently put big fish in the boat this way.

It is also much more fun experimenting with different methods after a few nice fish have been boated, such as utilizing light tackle.

Catch More Bass by Keeping Things Simple

There are endless theories bouncing around about what striped bass fishing techniques work best under certain conditions.  I understand how easy it can be to get bogged down by the seemingly infinite supply of information on the web, in tackle shops, and in fishing books.

An important thing to remember when heading out on the water is to keep things as simple as possible.

Find the fish and give them something they want to bite.

If a specific technique consistently catches fish under a broad umbrella of variables, then consider making that technique your personal “go-to” presentation.”  You will feel more confident knowing you are at least starting your fishing trip with a proven killer.

This year one of my go-to techniques will most definitely be trolling the tube and worm 

Surfcasting South Cape Beach for Blitzing Bluefish

fishing spots on cape cod

This article was published during the spring of 2011.

This particular afternoon, now a full decade into the past, was unusually warm by Cape Cod standards.  I recall driving into the South Cape Beach parking lot and noticing how the sun reflected nicely off the white caps that were heaving in at the beach from Vineyard Sound.

The weatherman had nailed the forecast on the sunshine, but had dropped the ball on the wind, which was cranking at around 30 knots.  Grains of sand propelled by the strong breeze stung my cheeks as I made my way down to the water’s edge.  It felt good to hear the waves and smell the salt after such a long harsh winter.

There were birds diving about 30 yards offshore down to my right.  After a quick jaunt I was greeted by hordes of squid and some very enthusiastic sea gulls.  The scene was set for my first bluefish blitz of the year.

Within minutes acres of bluefish had invaded the beachfront.  The fish slashed and crashed through squid in water as shallow as six inches.  Each cast provoked a catastrophic top water hit, followed by a lengthy fight on light tackle.  Some casts even produced two bluefish-one fish on the plug’s front hook and one fish on the tail.

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Cape Cod Tuna Time

 Click here for the latest Cape Cod tuna fishing report

The following excerpt originally appeared in the May 2011 edition of "On The Water" magazine.

"There was a slight chop developing on the ocean’s surface as I eased the Miss Loretta into a slow drift on Stellwagen Bank’s legendary southwest corner.

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Giant Tuna are Back on Cape Cod


Click here for the latest Cape Cod tuna fishing report

This giant tuna article was published during the spring of 2011.

The jaunt from Plymouth to Stellwagen Bank’s legendary southwest corner had been rather uneventful. Fortunately the seas had been smooth and the sun was shining, yet as we pulled the Miss Loretta onto the Bank, the apparent lack of life proved rather disappointing.

The eight tiny bluefish that we had caught the day prior were still trucking along in the bait tank. We soon had one of the toothy critters dancing quite nicely under the kite. An easterly breeze swept across the bank as I began to doubt the accuracy of the weather forecast.

A few minutes passed, and soon the glass calm surface of the ocean kicked up into a slight chop. The kite bluefish was frantically swimming now. Figuring his change in behavior had something to do with the change in wind, I calmly went about my business of setting a balloon bait off the starboard side of the boat. Just then a gaping hole opened up underneath the bluefish.

“What just happened?” I asked. The bluefish was swimming wildly now and we could sense that something dramatic was about to occur.

Just then a massive giant tuna crushed the hapless bluefish. Whitewater and froth shot into the air as the line came taught on the Penn 80W.  Line began screaming from the reel as the big bluefin took off to the west.

For a second my crew and I stood still in a state of awe and disbelief at what we had just witnessed. None of us had ever seen a giant tuna smack a bait before.  Our first tango with a giant had begun.

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