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My First Striped Bass Of The Year

Ryan Collins

I'm happy to report I caught my first striped bass of the 2019 season this past Wednesday afternoon April 17th!

I was fishing from my kayak on Cape Cod and was very surprised to find that one of the stripers was covered in sea lice.

Sea lice are marine external parasites that feed on the mucus, epidermal tissue, and blood of host marine fish. Sea lice often "hitch a ride" on the skin of striped bass which have been swimming in the open ocean.


Stripers with sea lice are generally accepted to be migratory fish that have arrived on Cape Cod after swimming for a period of time in the open ocean. 

This past Wednesday I was expecting to encounter holdover striped bass, which are fish that have spent the winter in the estuaries on Cape Cod. Holdover stripers usually do not have sea lice.

Was the striper I caught on Wednesday one of the first migratory stripers to arrive on Cape Cod? Or was it a holdover bass?

Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can download the full 7 minute video with more information about the trip, the lures I was using and the general location by clicking here.

I supposed it may be possible that the striper was a holdover, which had left the estuary to go into the open ocean, only to return to the estuary covered in sea lice.

I personally do not know for sure, so please draw your own conclusions and let me know what you think by commenting below.

Between 6pm-8pm on Wednesday I managed to land three striped bass. Only one of the fish had sea lice and they were all very small schoolies. I also had about a half dozen missed bites from other bass.

The main biomass of stripers has definitely not yet arrived on Cape Cod, but it won't be too much longer now. 

Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can download the full 7 minute video with more information about the trip, the lures I was using and the general location I was fishing by clicking the orange button below. 👇

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Full 7 minute video with more information about the trip, the lures I was using and the general location I was fishing.

PS - I also want to mention that I always wear a life jacket while fishing from my kayak, but during this trip I had forgotten my life jacket at home. Fortunately I was in shallow, calm water, and was only about 30 feet away from shore. Just wanted to mention that because I know how important life jackets are. 😬

  1. Nice catch Ryan…ahhh, really starts to get the juices flowing for another great season on the water! Hope all are well.

  2. When ever I have heard of lice aboard a fish was always good news that it was fresh from the ocean. I think you may well have caught one of the first arrivals for 2019.

    1. That’s what I’ve heard too Bill. The interesting thing is that I was in a “holdover spot” so I really didn’t expect to catch any fish with sea lice. These striped bass like to keep us guessing!

  3. That was fun! If it was migratory, don’t you think there would have been more? I know you caught 3, but only one with sea lice.

    Also what was the lever you were adjusting on the kayak?

    1. Yes only 1 fish had sea lice. I was fishing in a “holdover spot” so I really didn’t expect any of the fish to have sea lice.

      Maybe this was a rogue schoolie that headed north ahead of the migrating pack. Or maybe it was a holdover that ventured out into the ocean for a few days, only to return back to the estuary where he spent the winter. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

      The lever on the kayak adjusts the rudder, so I can easily turn to the left and to the right. Here’s a link with some more up-to-date models that are pretty cutting-edge.

  4. Fun video! Water was beautiful! Calm! Was that the moon rising behind you? Congrats on your first stripers! Exciting!

    1. That was the moon rising behind me. It was a gorgeous evening. 🙌🏻

  5. Nice hearing the birds too.

    1. Agreed 100%

  6. Very cool Ryan … you’re getting fresh stripers and we are just getting rid of the ice 🙂

    Well done!

    1. Hey Jim! 👋Good to hear from you. Also good to hear you guys are finally thawing out up north. Will you be trying for smallies this spring?

  7. Very cool! – love the foot controlled kayak and the great camera shots in-water! Supposed to be rainy, but I’ll be in Sandwich for Easter, going to try to sneak away for trout (not sure I’ll get to a pond), schoolie stripers or both. I’ll be on Town Neck, so hoping my Easter Egg is some schoolies come on in to Old Harbor.

    1. Thanks for reading Holt! Yes the foot pedal kayaks are awesome. I’ll never voluntarily go back to the old way of paddling. So much easier using the legs.

      Good luck this weekend if you’re able to sneak away and do some fishing. It’s still really early for stripers in the Sandwich area, but you never know unless you go! 🎣

  8. Spring is always the season of hope. Great to see a striper. My grand kids and I spent the week on our Eastham kettle hole with good pickerel and perch. The largemouth seemed to be pretty sleepy still. The pond is not stocked so no trout but otherwise good fresh water fishing until the fish come north. So many folks forget how good freshwater fishing can be on the Cape.

    1. Awesome to hear you had a good weekend fishing with the grandkids! You are correct that the Cape has great freshwater fishing too. Good luck if you go again this weekend. Thanks Mark!


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