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Monster Holdover Striper

Ryan Collins

This adventure began well before dark, at the leisurely hour of 3pm.

I had initially planned on using the kayak, but high winds convinced me to fish from shore.

It was now after midnight, and after hours of casting, I was yet to catch a fish.

During my last trip I had been extremely lucky and fortunate to have stumbled across a school of holdover stripers feeding on the surface.

But the fish tonight were proving more difficult to find.

However, that was all about to change as I approached the dark back corner of an estuary here on Cape.

More...

25+ Pound Holdover?

My cast landed with a "plop" that echoed throughout the dark marsh. The icy cold wind of earlier in the evening had died off, and it was now flat calm.

​I could feel the plug slithering from side to side as I began a painfully slow retrieve. Thoughts began to sweep into my mind.

Is it possible the fish left the estuary for open water? I asked myself.

Or are the fish here, but they just aren't biting?​ I further pondered.

Regardless, it was now past midnight and I was nearing the end of this trip. If I didn't turn back soon the sun might rise before I got to bed.

The plug was now less than 40 feet from my rod tip.

I could feel the lure wobbling back and forth through the coffee colored water, when it was suddenly engulfed...

Growing up I had heard rumors of 40+ inch holdover stripers on Cape Cod, but I had never actually seen or caught one.

Now here was one of those elusive monsters.

25 pound cape cod holdover striped bass

The rumors had been true all along.​..

enormous holdover striper on cape cod

I don't carry a scale, but I figured she weighed at least 25 pounds. 

monster cape cod holdover striper

Finally I eased her back into the water, and watched as she calmly pumped water through her big red gills. 

Thank you fish is what I recall thinking, before watching the bass swim away into the inky darkness of the night.

What a gift of an experience this had been.​ I packed up my gear and began the long trek back home.


MFCC members can click below to download a Google Earth video about the area fished, and 6 additional HD photos taken during this trip.

Member Downloads

Google Earth video about
the area fished

An additional 6 HD photos
taken during this trip

What do you think?​

Let me know
by commenting below 

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. Good job Ryan.
    Fishing trips in the winter (very early Spring) are a plus!
    We learn a lot about good responsible fishing practices from MFCC.
    Keep doing what your doing!

    JT

    Reply
    1. Thanks JT!

      I think it’s going to be a great season.

      Reply
  2. Come on !! Most of us have a hard time catching a fish like that during the peak of the season !! Ryan you are a true fish whisperer calling a fish like that to your line during this part of the year !

    Reply
    1. LOL, I was pretty shocked Steve!

      Great to see you this past weekend at MSBA.

      Looking forward to speaking at the May 12th BBAC meeting in Wareham!

      Reply
  3. EPIC! You must be running out of ‘bucket list’ items related to Striped Bass at this point! Seems like you have already hit most of the ‘once in a lifetime’ fish. Congrats on another awesome fish!

    Reply
    1. LOL, well I was actually just thinking 2016 could be the year to catch a 30 pounder on the fly. Considering I have never fly fished this could be a fun challenge.

      I’d also still like to catch a holdover in Boston Harbor. Still got some time left to make that happen!

      Reply
  4. Awesome! Glad it didn’t take out your cam on the tripod and send it in the drink. Great job!

    Reply
    1. Yeah I’m glad the video came out well too! Thanks for checking it out Richard!

      Reply
  5. Unbelievable ryan, great job.It is great to know that fish that size wil hold over here, and not go hungry.But that guy definitely out classed those others you hooked earlier in the new winter striper season Signed up for the breakfast. Looking forward to meeting some other like minded souls.Will be singing up for the new personal help portion of MFCC.Just to get on the same page,as far as what makes a good estuary to look at.Thanks ryan. Nice Release

    Reply
    1. The bass sure have been eating well. They are healthier looking than the stripers I caught last summer. Go figure!

      Definitely looking forward to seeing you at the breakfast, and launching the new virtual guide service.

      For anyone else interested in attending the breakfast, all are welcome and you can register online here > http://bit.ly/1RcgBho

      Tight lines Charles!

      Reply
  6. Awesome fish Ryan!! That’s a huge achievement. Not sure what the fuss is about. Ryan’s been fishing for months with out catching and has finally found one big rare fish. He didn’t keep it. He didn’t tell anyone where it is. What damage was done here? Nice job Ryan. I support keeping the details a secret but I’m glad you share the story and the pics!

    Reply
    1. I was pretty shocked Brian!

      I am sure you will find some as well, in time, if you keep up the effort you have been putting in.

      Keep at it!

      Reply
  7. 1) Personally, I would have never mentioned this large fish.

    2) Had I mentioned it, it would have been within the context of conservation. Like, y’know, guys, there might be some mature fish around here that hold over…which means they’re old enough to spawn. So lay off ’em, please. And if you fine one, don’t tell anybody.

    3) I’m surprised about this.

    4) I’m kinda’ pissed.

    Reply
    1. I’m puzzled by your comment. Ryan went fishing, caught a large fish that spent the winter in an estuary, and then released the fish with no damage. He also did not tell us where he caught the fish. You can’t be any more responsible than that. Being a recreational fishermen who releases all my fish, I applaud Ryan for his appreciation of, and respect of the conservation of, the fishery.
      If you are pissed at his report you’re on the wrong website.

      Reply
    2. No problemo Mark, I can see things from that perspective for sure.

      Reply
    3. Certainly fish that are breeding should be handled carefully. I don’t care much for the NY regulations on stripers for that very reason. This fish, however, was in an estuary on Cape Cod. I don’t believe there is, or ever has been naturally reproducing stripers on or around the Cape. Perhaps a fish this size chooses to holdover because they are sterile. This fish certainly isn’t preparing to run to the Chesapeake or Hudson to spawn. Regardless, this fish in not spawning, was handled properly, and released unharmed. Great catch Ryan!

      Reply
      1. Thanks for chiming in Jeff.

        Believe it or not, I have caught stripers on Cape Cod that were jam packed with eggs. However these fish were caught during the month of June.

        They sure are a mysterious fish!

        Reply
    4. They spawn much smaller than that size much to my surprise.
      I fished the Roanoke on Wednesday and saw a 20 inch fish being cleaned in the parking lot (mine were all released) that was full of eggs.

      Reply
      1. Always learning something new – thanks Eric!

        Reply
  8. Nice–You earned that one–Great, healthy-looking linesider!

    Reply
    1. I am amazed at how healthy-looking these fish are!

      Reply
  9. Love following your adventures! I live in Vermont so not often I get to the shore to chase these beautiful fish. Was curios about your set up! What do you use for a reel, rod, line and lures? I know we all have our personal favorites but would love to see you showcase a brief overview of your tackle. Keep up the great videos and tight lines!

    Reply
    1. Great to hear Steve!

      I actually outline the gear I have been using this winter about 2/3 of the way down in this report here > https://myfishingcapecod.com/holdover-striper-report/

      However, the gear mentioned in that report is really not the greatest. The only reason I’m using that specific rod, reel etc. is because it has been “lucky” ever since I brought it with me to Costa Rica.

      Afte rall, there really is no point for me to be using my 3-piece travel rod right now. It’s just been lucky, so why mix things up.

      Keep me posted with any more questions about gear and equipment – I do plan on publishing a comprehensive outline during 2016.

      Reply
      1. Cool! Thanks for the quick response. It’s a great deal of fun checking this out!

        Reply
  10. Hey Ryan. Man you are amazing me. I haven’t seen a bass yet this year in Delaware. Now you catch a really nice one in Cape Cod in March/April. Go figure. But hey congrats. even though the fish, that far north and in a Marsh none the less, totally throws off my whole thought process on migrations and where fish should be at a certain time, you seem to be changing or adding to the whole bass migration theory. I mean there are big bass starting to more into Delaware Bays spawning grounds, and what I think is the best spawning area left–the Nanticoke River in the Chesapeake, is just starting to get spawning fish. So what is that Gal doing up there? Please keep me involved in your exploits. I think I sent you a year or two check, but heck I can’t remember anything any more and don’t write down checks that I wrote. So please if I owe you money just e mail me. Thanks Ryan and best to Yah.

    Reply
    1. They sure are a mysterious fish John. I myself am just starting to learn about striped bass up in Nova Scotia of all places…

      I think that big Gal must of just decided, “Heck, there is plenty of food here, so why bother swimming south?” – whatever she’s been eating, it has been feeding her well.

      I checked your account and it looks like you are good to go until November 1st of 2016. I appreciate the honesty and checking in about that!

      Reply
      1. Just as an aside, and there are probably 100 estuaries on the Cape, but I have fished two maybe, three–The Pamet River, the entrance to Hatches, and the best one is somewhere on the South side of Nauset Inlet. I only saw it in the dark and just stumbled across it, but it produced at midnight.

        Reply
        1. Good tips John, thanks for chiming in!

          Reply
  11. Awesome fish. You deserve it for the effort you put in. What a reward. I’ll definitely check out that estuary this spring. I think I figured it out!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Warren! If it is indeed the same estuary, then I will be very eager to hear how you do this spring.

      These sure are some mysterious fish, and I definitely consider myself very fortunate to have stumbled upon one lone big girl.

      Reply
  12. What a beautiful fish!
    Well done!

    Reply
    1. Sure she is pretty!

      Reply
  13. The download Google Earth video button was misleading. I expected to see a spot not a commercial. Please be more direct in the future.

    The holdover striper caught was fantastic. It was great to see the pictures and to learn that such monsters wintered locally.

    Reply
    1. No worries Gene, I can understand that.

      She sure was a beautiful fish!

      I hope she’ll grow up to be a fifty.

      Reply
  14. Holy cow, what a fish!!! Nice catch.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Steve!

      Reply
  15. Great Find! Great Catch! Great Fish!
    Inspired to get out there in those colder months!!

    Reply
    1. Thanks David!

      Never too early to take a few casts…

      Reply
  16. Here it is April 2 2016 and I went to your article and what a nice fish but I think the best thing about it was that you let that fish go , Some people may have kept that fish release is the best part off fishing today, good job

    Reply
    1. Well said Andre. With so many folks striper fishing these days, a nice healthy release is definitely important.

      Reply
  17. Nice catch Ryan. Good drag screaming.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Big Papi!

      She put one hell of a bend in that 7.5 ft rod.

      Reply
  18. Very nice fish! As usual, good job Ryan.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Nelson!

      Reply
  19. When was this taken

    Reply
    1. 6 days ago

      Reply
  20. Wow ! impressive holdover catch, Ryan. That striper looked really healthy and well fed too. Congrats. Let me know if you need a cameraman, Ha.

    Reply
    1. Super healthy!

      Bright and fat fish, that has apparently been feeding very well.

      Reply
  21. WOW, that is amazing! Nice job Ryan!

    Reply
    1. Thanks Darren, I was shocked!

      Reply
  22. You are killing me!
    Congrat!

    Reply
    1. LOL, good to see you today Jim!

      Reply
  23. Nice work!!!! I’m on the hunt for striper spots down here in Virginia. They are in the spawning areas right now.

    Reply
    1. Nice! Good luck Lonell.

      I will be interested in hearing how it goes down there, and how the fishing compares to Nantucket.

      Reply
  24. That’s it. I’m headed to LL Bean to get needed new waders & boots and as soon as temps come back up by mid week I’m headed to the estuaries. You’ve had one heck of a winter season. Congratulations!

    Reply
    1. LL Bean makes some good waders Peter!

      It’s been a great start to 2016. Good luck out there this week!

      Reply

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