Bunker spoons often catch the largest striped bass in a given area. If you want to target the cows, then consider trolling spoons.
I first trolled bunker spoons off Cape Cod when I was 18 or 19 years old. Most of the stripers I have caught trolling bunker spoons have weighed at least 25 pounds, with the largest 43 pounds.
In this post I will share with you my super simple approach for getting started trolling bunker spoons off Cape Cod.
Bunker Spoon Trolling Rods and Reels
You’ll need some specific equipment to get started trolling bunker spoons. Using the right tackle will help you fish the spoons correctly, and get the spoons down deep where the big fish normally are.
For reels I have always used the Penn 113HSP.
The Penn 113HSP is built for wire line trolling and jigging. I also use these reels for trolling with lead core line. The Penn 113HSP has been used all over Cape Cod and the Islands for many years.
Rod selection is also pretty important when trolling bunker spoons for stripers. The best rod for trolling spoons is normally around 8ft long, with a supple tip and plenty of backbone.
On my boat I use an 8' Cape Cod Rod Company bunker spoon trolling rod, as well as a 7'6'' Tsunami bunker spoon rod. Both rods do a nice job of helping to impart the correct fish-attracting "wobble" action of the spoon.
Wire Line, Backing and Connections
If you are in the Cape Cod area, then the easiest way to get your reels loaded up for bunker spoon trolling is to have the crew from the Goose Hummock Shop in Orleans take care of it for you.
If you plan on loading the reels yourself, then here is what's worked for me in the past.
Recommended Bunker Spoons
There are several different types of bunker spoons available on the market. The Tony Maja series of bunker spoons are extremely popular down south and I am sure they will work here on Cape Cod.
The Maja spoons were not available when I first started trolling for striped bass, so I tend to stick to Reliable Bunker Spoons. I’ve had success with white, metallic and green colored Reliable spoons.
The theory behind the green spoons is that it imitates an injured Atlantic mackerel, which sometimes turn greenish in color when being pursued by stripers. I keep the keel positioned forward, which is how the spoon comes from the factory.
The Bunker Spoon Trolling Technique
I enjoy trolling spoons because it’s simple and does not burn a lot of gas.
I usually put all 300 feet of wire line into the water, which brings the spoons down to around 30 feet. 20-30 feet down is where I normally find suspended striped bass when trolling depths of 40 – 80 feet.
I set the drag to 9 pounds and I troll around 3mph. The bunker spoon rod will “pump” when the spoons are swimming correctly. Correctly swimming spoons flutter about 2 feet to the left, then 2 feet to the right, in a rhythmic motion.
That is the general gist of trolling spoons. I told you it was relatively simple! The most challenging part of course is finding an area with life (striped bass and bait) in which to troll.
Good Spots on Cape Cod to Troll Bunker Spoons
I only troll spoons in wide open areas-never in creeks or channels. I feel my odds are best when trolling areas where there may be pogies, mackerel, sea herring or other “big bass bait” around.
The bunker spoon is meant to imitate a large solitary injured bait fish, such as a bunker (we call them pogies) which has lost the relative protection of traveling within a tight knit school of other large bait fish.
One example of a good tract of water in which to troll spoons is a place where schools of large bait are dotting the surface. For instance, on flat calm days, mackerel schools can be relatively easy to spot in places like Cape Cod Bay.
I general, I normally troll spoons a mile or more offshore (with some exceptions), and not in a protected cove or harbor. There is a lot of water out there and I help increase my odds by focusing on spots that contain an active ecosystem with big bait.
Even if you are not marking schools of stripers, as long as you are marking big bait, you’ll have a good chance at finding a rogue striped bass or two.
Sometimes real big stripers hang out by themselves in these deep water areas. So if you are marking bait but not marking bass, there could still be some behemoth singles cruising around by themselves.
Often times I will catch a big bass on the bunker spoon, even though I have not marked a single fish on my sonar. You might get just one bite all day, but odds are it’ll be a fish worth taking a photo of.
More Ways to Catch Stripers from your Boat off Cape Cod
Way back on January 17th of 2015 I held in-person fishing classes at Bass Pro Shops in Foxboro, and one of the topics we discussed was "Fishing the Cape by Boat."
During that class (which lasted 70 minutes!) we talked about specific techniques and strategies, places fish gather and how to find keeper-size striped bass using your sonar.
We covered a lot, broken down into these 4 general categories:
- Spots on Cape Cod to find stripers in your boat
- How to find striped bass using your sonar and other tools
- Techniques that work best for stripers in specific areas
- Night fishing from your boat
I recorded the entire 1 hour 10 minute long session and MFCC members can watch the entire presentation by clicking below.
If you are not an MFCC member but would still like to watch the presentation, you can join today for $1 and then you'll be able to tune in.
Bunker spoon trolling is not for everyone, because sometimes there are long waits in between bites. Plus not everybody enjoys trolling as many people prefer to cast lures, which is of course perfectly fine.
Nevertheless there is something to be said about simply putting a line behind the boat and trolling along. Trolling spoons can be a relaxing way of spending a morning on the water. In addition the drag screaming strike of a big fish on a spoon is not something you'll forget!
As always I hope you enjoyed this article. I am not a bunker spoon trolling expert but I try my best. I hope you found the tips in this blog post to be of good value, and please let me know what you think by commenting below.
Tight lines! 🎣