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Holdover Striper Feeding Frenzy

Ryan Collins

This morning from 3:30am until sunrise I encountered surface feeding holdover striped bass here on Cape Cod. These fish were hammering bait and acting as if it was summer!

The water temperature was still a chilly 44 degrees Fahrenheit, but that did not deter these fish one bit from aggressively attacking just about anything I threw at them.

Yes the striped bass migration may still be a couple weeks away from reaching Cape Cod, but the holdover stripers which have spent the winter here on Cape are most definitely getting more active now that the weather is slowly warming up. 

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Early this morning the action was literally a fish on every cast. Sure this may sound unrealistic considering the time of year, however remember that holdover stripers often group together in tight schools. If you can find them, you may enjoy very consistent action. 

Nevertheless, encountering aggressive, surface feeding striped bass at this time of the year is extremely rare. In fact I have only experienced it a handful of times in my entire life!

I am not sure what the bass were feeding on, but whatever it was the stripers were not being shy about gobbling them down. The pitch black, deafening, windless silence of the morning was constantly disturbed by sudden POPS and SMACKS as 15-25 inch stripers fed with abandon. 

In total I landed 15 stripers before deciding to call it quits. I also had many more bites (probably at least 20) that I missed the hook on.  

As promised, I had crushed the barbs on all my hooks, and I am happy to report that every single striper swam away in good condition!

Members of My Fishing Cape Cod can access a Google Earth image of the general location fished, plus a new video of the exact lure and technique I used to catch these stripers, by clicking the orange download button below.

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Google Image Of The General Location Fished + New Video Of The Exact Lure & Technique Used To Catch These Stripers

I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  1. Inspiring video Ryan…….we’re over in 6weeks so guessing the migration will be fully up and running by then.
    Gotta love the teaser, do you use the very small red-gill type also?

    Reply
    1. Oh yeah the fish should be here in full force by the time you arrive, despite this colder-than-typical spring we are having.

      I LOVE Red Gill Teasers. That is the first style of teaser I ever used actually. Gotta love the double headers!

      cape cod stripers red gill teasers

      Reply
  2. Great report Ryan. 3:30 AM in April, nice to be young😊
    My guess is same estuary where the 50 lb holdover was caught a few years ago. Beautiful area.
    I love teasers. Picked up a few casting eggs just to cast those flies.
    Keep it up!!!

    Reply
    1. How have those casting eggs treated you Warren?

      Dex gave me one a couple years ago and I think it’s now about time I give the egg a try.

      Reply
  3. Awesome job Ryan! Way to grind it out, looks like you had a blast!!

    Reply
    1. It was a great trip! Plus I spent a couple hours after sunrise hiking and surfcasting some of the Outer Cape beaches. No fish on the beaches but it was a beautiful morning.

      Reply
  4. Inspiring Ryan — haven’t put my skis away yet ….. and now I’ll have stripers on my brain ! Looking forward to the migration!!

    Tight Lines,

    John

    Reply
    1. Wow is there still snow up in the mountains!?

      Looking forward to catching up with you this summer 👍🏻

      Reply
  5. thanks for sharing Ryan. Working the fly set up at all? Sounds like that would have worked well.

    Reply
    1. The fly would of worked great Doug! The fish were very close to shore which would of been perfect for my limited casting ability. Maybe next time I will give the fly rod a try.

      Reply
  6. Awesome! Curious – what were the tide conditions? low water or did it not matter? Thanks TH

    Reply
    1. Hey Tim 👋🏻

      The tide was low, and I usually have my best success around low tide. All the life is forced to retreat to the deep holes, makes the fish more concentrated and easier to catch.

      Reply
  7. Hi Ryan,
    I am planning on fishing for stripers down the cape this weekend. Where would be the best spot? Also, were you fishing in the bay when you caught these fish?
    Thanks,
    Jack

    Reply
    1. Hey Jack,

      This is a very, very small population of holdover striped bass which have spent the entire winter in this one particular spot.

      Striper fishing on Cape won’t get consistently good until the first week of May. Right now you’d have a much better chance going after trout in the Cape’s kettle ponds.

      However, with all that said, it is possible to find stripers. Just understand there are not many of them around, and the ones that are here will be tucked away back in the estuaries.

      Reply
  8. Nice job on the night fishing video thank you.
    great job with crushing The barbs on your hooks. Like all the fish just fall off. thank you for all the information you provide.

    Reply
    1. As you mention James, with no barbs the fish are much, much easier to unhook. I definitely recommend everyone reading this to crush the barbs on their hooks, especially when targeting schoolies this spring. As always thank you James for following along with MFCC!

      Reply
  9. Great that you crushed the barbs! Good for the fishies.
    Teasers are very effective. When I use needles, almost all the fish are caught on the teaser.
    Question: I thought the accepted wisdom for holdovers was that they become more active during the middle of the day when it was warmest. One would conclude that this makes the early afternoon of warm days the best time to fish for holdovers during the winter. However, you have been having great success the last few years when holdover fishing at night. A true groundbreaking change of tactics. What led to this discovery?

    Reply
    1. That wisdom is what I used to think too Dex, and I believe there is some truth in there. I feel the warm sunny days are important because they warm up the water temperature, which gets the fish to be more active again.

      Nevertheless the stripers still bite best at night (just like during the summer). So in conclusion, fishing at night after a stretch of warm and sunny days will probably produce the best action on holdovers.

      Reply
  10. great job Ryan! fun to watch!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Leslie! Probably just another 10-14 days until we start hearing about fresh migratory schoolies along the beaches of the Sounds and Buzzard’s Bay!

      Reply
  11. Is there a chance they could be migratory fish?

    Reply
    1. Hey Jason 👋🏻

      They’ve been hanging in the same area since December. They’re holdovers.

      I would expect them to move out to the open ocean and beaches within another 10-14 days.

      LMK if you have any other questions 🎣

      Reply

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