On a cool December 27th night my headlight cuts a winding path through the foggy dark for what may very well be my last hopeful trip of the year.
Gearing up quickly and quietly, I grab my rod and surf belt, and check the tide one last time before creeping into the night.
Picking a familiar hidden path across boggy ground, I move through the wrack lines and flattened grass, around the sucking holes that threaten boot and leg. The sod banks descend on glassy waters, misted with a heavy haze of low hanging mist.
A silent rip rolls through, lost in the shadows of the opposing bank as it slowly settles into the still of slack. Nearing the top, it's a final window in one of the last tides of my striper season.
Searching for Elusive Winter Bass
The heart of the surf has now faded and the last of the migrators are long gone from our inshore waters. In this cold tail end of the season, the final prospect of a bass rests in the quiet waters, deep in the rivers and bays that interrupt the sandy coastlines.
These dark backwaters seem all but removed from the washed boulder fields and sweeping beaches of the Cape’s surf. The bass that inhabit these waters are unique and hardy. Stubborn holdouts, lurking against the expanse of mud and grass in this unique aquatic environment.
Finding these fish can be difficult, while actually enticing a feed is all but daunting. I search the back for these holdovers much the same way I would break down a boulder field during the height of the run - by locating convergences of moving water, staging and forage.
In these systems the holes and undercuts of the muddy bottom offer bass an opportunity to feed and rest. At times a small population of resident fish may spend the entirety of a winter sequestered in one particular cove or depression and special care has to be taken to not overpressure these individuals.