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Keepers on Cape Cod | March 11th Report

Ryan Collins

I was still half asleep when Buddy (a dog we are watching for our friends while they are away) dragged his wet and slobbery tongue across my cheek. Time to wake up!

Temperatures were predicted to reach 70 degrees in Boston, with slightly cooler temperatures on the Cape. The day had infinite potential.

Yet I knew any fishing would have to wait until much later in the night.

Several new online business opportunities would be taken care of first. I was excited to show these potential clients how the internet could help improve their businesses - and their quality of life.

​Once Buddy the dog had taken care of "his business" I packed all my fishing and camera equipment into my car and hit the road. This way I would already have everything I needed, for whenever I got the chance to wet a line.


New Ideas

Things were progressing smoothly and by late afternoon this past Wednesday I was ready for my final (and most exciting) meeting of the day. 

At 4pm I sat down with Phil Howarth of Goose Hummock – a shop located in the town of Orleans​ specializing in fishing, boating and outdoor equipment.


Phil and I discussed new ideas about how Goose Hummock and My Fishing Cape Cod could work together on projects that would benefit the Cape Cod fishing community.

​One project we discussed (which will launch this season) is for experts from the Goose Hummock staff to contribute on a weekly basis to the MFCC podcast

More on this new idea coming soon…

Decision Time

It was nearly dark by the time Phil and I finished our discussion. As the sun began to set, a cool and crisp westerly breeze started to blow across the Cape.

The air temperature was dropping and the wind increasing. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to spend what would certainly be a dark and cold night, wading alone through the backwaters of an estuary.

I checked my phone and noticed several text messages and a voice mail from MFCC member and contributor Dex Chadsey. Dex had spent the day fishing and exploring the Cape in search of the elusive holdover striper.​

Dex had enjoyed a beautiful and warm sunny day, but the holdovers were nowhere to be found.​ I hopped in my car full of fishing gear, unsure exactly where to go or what to do.

I pulled into a grocery store parking so I could think things through. Suddenly I felt inspired to fish. I changed into my waders, organized my tackle and prepared my GoPro cameras.

45 minutes later and my car is parked in a hidden spot among million ​dollar homes. Very quietly I begin my trek towards the water.

Time To Fish

The night was pitch black, with no moon. The dim light of stars hovered above my head, and a cold breeze swept across the water, smacking me in the face.

So far my new waders were holding up well, despite getting stuck in a briar patch while en route to the waters edge. Last week my old waders sprung a leak, and by the time I caught my first striper, I could no longer feel my toes.

I began casting and wading through the mud and muck. I retrieved my lure as slow as possible, and waded even slower, carefully watching my step and moving at the pace of a snail.

Extreme caution must be taken when fishing this particular area.
The bottom in some spots is like quicksand, and I have sunk in up to my thighs. If you are inexperienced, then I do not recommend fishing the backwaters of estuaries alone.​

My fingers were starting to go numb by 8:30pm. I hadn't seen or caught anything despite covering a lot of water and making a lot of casts. My thoughts began to wander and I considered hiking back to my car and trying a new spot.

I made one last cast and decided to start the treacherous wade back towards the briar-laden path through the woods. It was nearly 9:30pm by the time I reached my exit point.​

Yet instead of climbing up the hill through the woods to my car, I decided to explore the lower part of the estuary, closer to the open ocean. This was an area where I had never before caught a fish.​

Oh My God

I began fishing the new area and quickly realized I was not alone. My headlamp revealed a cornucopia of glass eels, mummichogs and 4 inch long silvery minnows.

​My legs were surrounded by bait fish. The nearly transparent eels were swimming in small groups or by themselves. The mummichogs barely moved, as if my headlamp had frozen them in place. 

With anticipation boiling in my veins I fired a cast into the chilly air, and allowed my plug to settle into the center of what I think was a deep channel. I retrieved the plug at a painstakingly slow pace.

When the plug was 25 feet from my rod I felt subtle "bump" on the line.​

"Oh my God" I remember thinking, "That was a fish.​"

My next cast landed in the same area. I took up the slack and gave the plug a quick jerk to get it swimming. I could feel the plug pulsating on the line, and I imagined how it looked slowly wobbling from side to side through the water.

Bam! The topwater explosion echoed through the marsh.​..

I knew right away that this was the largest holdover striper I had ever hooked. Line slipped from my drag and the bass pulled hard against the pressure exerted by the rod. 

This fish had to of been in full-on feeding mode. The hit was aggressive and the fight was terrific. Nearly one minute into the battle, I was still not able to visually spot the striper through the inky black darkness.

​I had crushed the barbs on the two treble hooks which hung off my swimming plug, to minimize damage to the fish and make releasing fish easier. So far the barbless treble hooks were holding.

I am really fortunate to have been tipped off to this lethal swimming plug, by a member here on MFCC. It just goes to show that if you establish good relationships with people here on MFCC, then you will catch more fish.

​Finally I got the striper in close. The bass still had plenty of energy and with my nearly numb fingers I had a lot trouble securing a firm lip lock on the fish, but after a few tries I was able to get a grip.

I released the fish and watched the bass swim away in good condition. I was beside myself in disbelief. I have wanted to catch stripers like this during the winter since I was a child, and now it is happening.

Instead of exiting the water and walking back through the woods to my car (as I had originally planned) I decided to load the GoPro cameras with fresh batteries, and continue to explore further down river.​

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  1. Hi Ryan,
    Awesome log of a great evening of fishing!! This will be my second season of being a member and have really been enjoying the articals and tips.
    Last season I put all my time into fishing the canal and learning. I’m very interested in venturing out and doing some fishing in areas you just described but have no idea where to start. If you could provide some advise on locations for these areas and where you were fishing I would greatly appreciate it, as well as types of lures that work well for this type of fishing. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Regards, Jim

    1. Great to have you onboard MFCC for your 2nd season Jim!

      I can’t bee too specific with regards to locations and some techniques when I post reports online, because thousands of people read these reports.

      However, some time spent on Google Earth will reveal many of the nooks and crannies on Cape Cod where I like to explore and fish.

      I’ll also be launching a virtual guide service this year which you might find valuable. It’s not ready yet but you can learn more about it here >

  2. Great story!!

    1. Thanks Rick! Memorable night!

  3. Just checking out your latest video Ryan, really nice bass.Like one of your previous members had said, it really is like being with you reading and watching the videos. Glad to hear you have hooked up with phil at the goose.My local.Tight lines.

    1. My main goal through the writing and videos on MFCC is to share the Cape Cod fishing experience, and I’m really happy to hear you say that Charles. Thanks for chiming in!

      Maybe I will eventually bump into you down at the Goose. I spend a lot of time exploring that area of the Cape, and I will probably be spending more time this season at their shop.

      Tight lines!

  4. Wow your one in a million fisherman!
    Can’t wait to bump into you.
    Traveling mercies on you on your adventures in JN!

    1. Thanks James!

      Our next MFCC Breakfast will be the morning of Sunday, April 17th at the Brookside Club in Bourne. All are welcome to attend including the family. Be great to meet you there if you can make it.

      Gluck if you get out fishing! The freshwater bite ought to be pretty good this week.

  5. Very Impressive Ryan,

    One fish like that makes all of the effort worthwhile. Do you ever fish for winter holdovers during daylight hours?


    1. It sure does Steve! Definitely worth the effort.

      In the past I would always fish for winter holdovers during the day. However this year nighttime has been more productive for me.

  6. Nice holdover Ryan.

    1. Thank you, and great chatting with you at RISAA!

  7. Your motivation and hard work keeps paying off for you, as it should. Unexpected results are always a plus.

    1. Well said Art! It’s always nice when the fish cooperate.

    2. So, couldn’t you name the “lethal swimming lure”? I’ve been catching walleye in the Delaware river at dawn and dusk with a 4-inch, chartreuse and orange Husky Jerk.

      1. Wish I could! However the lethal plug was shared with me from a member here on MFCC, in confidence that I would not post about it online. So I must respect that agreement.

        Great to hear about the walleye. I had no idea the Delaware even had walleye. I would imagine there must be some stripers in the Delaware too?

        1. WHL?

        2. This is why I’m leaving the community, definitely not enough sharing, I share everything, I can see maybe about definate areas ,but really a fishing lure , top secret, that’s a joke, I tell people what I use and how I use them, I’m Not worried about Anyone out fishing me with them because no one uses them exactly like me , too many secrets on this site for me, definitely not enough sharing

  8. Awesome words and video Ryan!
    More proof,if needed, of how much we still have to learn. People like you are the best kind of students/teachers. Thank you.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Paul – we will never 100% have these fish figured out.

  9. Great job Ryan. Nice fish.

    1. Thanks Mike. Now I gotta get one on the fly!

  10. Ryan
    As always a great report…when reading it feels like we are right there with you…I’ve been checking some boulder fields and sites for launching the kayak…looking forward to sending in a report on how it works out..
    Also nice to see that you and Phil got together..could be the start of a great relationship…
    Best regards

    1. As always Richard I am very glad to hear you enjoy the writing.

      I have a good feeling about how MFCC and the Goose could work together in 2016 and beyond.

      Will this be your first year fishing the salt from the kayak?

  11. We can fish the Cape all year if you work at it. Your stories, and video have proven it to me. Keep it coming.

    1. Thanks Dad and happy birthday!

  12. Good stuff! Hard to leave these big browns and chase the holdovers; but I really need to give it a go.

    1. I understand your dilemma! LOL

      Glad to hear the browns are treating you well.

  13. Ryan, have you tried the place we talked about at Mass Bass???

    1. Sure have! I went back there twice, once during January and again in February.

      It looked real good but I struck out both times. Have you been trying?

  14. Great story, keep em coming

    1. Will do! Hope to get back out there soon.

  15. Hard core fishing! Great report, Ryan.

    1. Thanks Quint!

      I really enjoy being out there during the “off-season.”

      Pretty cool experience.

  16. Same estuary as in February?

    1. Yep, but this time I was closer to the ocean.

  17. Been out a few times in Maine but no luck. I’ll be heading to Boston in the morning. I have a spot I want to scout tomorrow afternoon and plan to hopefully fish it 3:00am Sunday

    1. You are determined Brian! I admire your persistence.

      I hope to see you this year at an MFCC event or out on the beach. Be great to catch up in person.

  18. Amazing! I can’t believe there’s that much life in the marshes this early in March. Can’t help but think it’s gonna be an early season for sure. Nice job hanging in there! It can be tough to stick it out all night when the bite is slow even during the main season. Winter is even harder. Keep after ’em. Any idea why all the bait and fish were in the lower section of the marsh? Different tide this time?

    1. I also think it will be an early start to the season, and I’m not complaining one bit about it! Maybe we will be catching fish along the beaches during April.

      The tide was higher than the previous trip I made to this area, so maybe that’s part of the “reason” why the fish were lower in the estuary…but right now these are just theories.

      Have you been out recently Brian?

  19. Inspiring. Well done!

    1. Thanks Peter, I had a blast!


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