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Striped Bass and Sand Eel Feeding Frenzy

ryan collins my fishing cape cod breakfast

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This past Thursday June 4th I had a unique opportunity to film and photograph a school of hundreds of striped bass as they hunted sand eels along the bottom and on the surface.

The following footage and photographs were captured during one of our weekly group fishing trips. We offer these trips to members of My Fishing Cape Cod, and I post any openings here inside our members' forum.

Overall this ended up being one of the most exciting trips of my season so far. I hope you are able to learn something new from what you're about to see. 

Please scroll below to get started, and as always be sure to let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post! โœŒ๐Ÿป

More...


On The Bottom

During our trip on June 4th it did not take long for captain Cullen of Cape Star Charters to put us on the fish. 

I am sure many of you reading this have seen marks on your sonar similar to what we saw on Thursday.

In the sonar image above, the red streaks on the bottom are striped bass, and the blue/yellow/red "cloud" at the top of the image is a school of sand eels.

But did you ever wonder what those fish actually look like down there in real life?

Well here you go! ๐Ÿ‘‡

In addition to the images above, I was also able to capture video footage. In the following video I am using a 2 ounce pink epoxy jig.

The technique was to allow the jig to sink through the school and hit bottom, before beginning the retrieve. 

Click play below to check it out! ๐Ÿ‘‡

*Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can click here to watch more footage and learn the general location where this was filmed.

After reviewing hours of footage, I stumbled across another split-second moment which captures the drama which was unfolding beneath the waves.

In the following clip, you can watch a school of sand eels as they burrow themselves into the sand to avoid being eaten by a school of approaching striped bass.


Surface Feeds

At around 9AM on June 4th the schools of stripers which had been feeding on sand eels along the bottom, suddenly erupted into a topwater feeding frenzy.

The school of bass had successfully pinned the sand eels against the surface where there was no escape. This created a prime feeding opportunity for the stripers.

I am sure many of you reading this have seen stripers surface feeding on sand eels before.

However, I had never seen a sand eel feed from above until this past Thursday, when I finally got the chance to fly my drone over the action.

Click play below to check it out! ๐Ÿ‘‡


In Conclusion

For me this trip was more about playing witness to nature than catching fish. However, everyone else onboard had a great time reeling in stripers in the 22-27 inch range.

During this group trip I got to fish with Cortez Ludden (right), Vinnie Freudenberger (sitting on the cooler) and Bob Schnepp (back right).

It was the first time I had met Bob and Cortez, and we all enjoyed each other company. Of course the good fishing helped too!

Thank you as always for reading this report. Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can watch more footage and learn the general area we fished by clicking here.

I hope you have a great start to your week. Good luck if you make it out fishing.

Tight lines! ๐ŸŽฃ

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. excellent videos and pictures

    Reply
    1. Thanks Mike, I’m glad you enjoyed this post ๐Ÿ‘

      Reply
  2. Great Footage Ryan… it gives a little insight of how the fish react to how the baits and lures are presented.

    Reply
    1. Glad you found the footage valuable Steve. Gluck out there this week!

      Reply
  3. Great videos Ryan! Damn Iโ€™m missing not being able to leave Florida for Plymouth this summer. Hopefully, summers here will go well!

    Reply
    1. Stay cool down there Steve! Hopefully you’ll get back to Plymouth sooner than later! Tight lines ๐ŸŽฃ

      Reply
  4. Ryan,
    You are building up a groundbreaking collection of educational and presentation material. You will have a lot to offer this show season and for viewers of MFCC TV!
    When watching your recent videos I am amazed at how an artificial lure can be dragged through a mass of fish without generating an actual bite. Seeing the lure work from a fish’s viewpoint it becomes obvious how they can easily spot artificials for a phony. The difference between the actual sand eels and the epoxy jig is startling. An angler not getting a bite would naturally assume that there were no fish around. The evidence you present shows the need for learning the behavior of baitfish and having your lure replicate that through retrieve speed, depth sifting, rod action, lure color and lure choice rather than just a constant retrieve at the same depth and with the same lure. For instance a large surface lure worked over the bass in your video would not elicit many strikes. Very enlightening!

    Reply
    1. Hey Dex,

      Yes I plan on having a lot of brand new footage for season #4. It should be fun!

      And your observations about the lures not being as effective as we think they are is spot-on. Even before I started recording these videos I would have many instances on my boat where I marked hundreds of bass on my sonar, and still could not get a single one of them to bite. This has even happened to me with live bait. I can remember instances from the past when my dad and I drifted through schools of literally thousands of fish, with live eels right in the middle of the schools, and maybe we get one fish to bite. We always were baffled by that.

      The one thing I will mention is that in many of these shots I have a video camera attached to my leader, which I am sure makes the fish a bit more suspicious. I also tend to stick with a straight retrieve when I am filming, because it results in smoother footage. For example, jigging the lure with the camera on the line would make the footage unusable.

      Reply
  5. The videos are great, so cool to see it. Bob n I went out to Monomoy yesterday with no luck, still early. He said he really enjoyed the trip with you n Cullen. Great stuff!

    Reply
    1. Nice Jeff! Hopefully Monomoy will start producing better soon. I also had a great trip fishing with Bob and Cullen. Good luck if you make it back out there this weekend. ๐ŸŽฃ

      Reply
  6. Enjoyed your videos of Striped Bass feeding on eels. Questions …..what is the best method to fish live eels from shore. Do you let them sit on the bottom or reel in slowly? What is the recommended set-up. They make a three foot leader look like a tangled mess!

    Bob

    Reply
    1. Hey Bob,

      When fishing live eels from shore I will first grab the eel with a dry rag and whack him over the head on a rock. This slows him down and reduces the chances of the eel curling up into a tangled mess. Then I cast the eel out and slowly retrieve him back to shore.

      Here is a helpful video which might be worth checking out

      Reply
  7. Great stuff makes you want to drop what your doing and get out there.
    I would like to see the same but with fluking .
    Thx

    Reply
    1. Sounds good Rich. I will get to work on filming some fluke!

      Reply
  8. Great report Ryan. Got me salivating and ready to get out there, but, Iโ€™d so appreciate general info on the whereโ€™s and whenโ€™s of your trips.
    Not GPS coordinates, just, โ€œsouth edge of Billingsgate, falling tide, west of #1 can, target shipโ€, etc.
    Donโ€™t hand me a fish, just some geographic and tidal education!
    Thanks for your great work on the site.
    Larry in Eastham

    Reply
  9. Loved it Ryan! So cool to see the sand eels. Makes me understand why the savage eels work so well! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Glad you liked it Leslie, and good luck out there this week ๐ŸŽฃ

      Reply
  10. While waiting for some work done on my center console I did get a chance to go out on my skiff and manged to find find a hungry Bluefish. They weren’t schooled up and were finicky . Caught one on a Cotten Cordell and a dozen on Tin

    Reply
    1. Nice Bill! Sounds like fun to me. I hope the work is done on your center console soon. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

      Reply
  11. Hey Ryan,

    Fantastic! I love all of it especially the sand eels! Just amazing.

    Thanks so much for sharing these.

    Reply
    1. My pleasure Jeanne. More to come soon I hope!

      Reply
  12. Great footage Ryan!
    Helps us all to understand a little more about what is really going on below the boat.

    Reply
    1. Pumped you enjoyed the footage Steve! Hope you are catching ’em up out there. I’ll keep an eye out for you on the water this week! ๐ŸŽฃ

      Reply
  13. awesome stuff…… I find it amazing. gotta love nature.

    Reply
    1. Gotta love nature is right! I find it to be amazing as well. Thanks for the comment. ๐Ÿ‘

      Reply
  14. Incredible footage from above and below the surface! So interesting to watch their behavior.

    Reply
    1. I almost enjoy watching them more than catching them! LOL. Hopefully we can get some cool underwater footage during our tuna trip in August! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

      Reply
  15. Ryan, with your drone and underwater camera you give fishing a new perspective for all of us to enjoy. Thank you and look forward to your next adventure.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Mike, and I hope you are having fun with your filming as well!

      Reply
  16. Great stuff.

    Reply
    1. Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

      Reply

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