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My First Cape Cod Stripers Of 2018

Ryan Collins

At 4am this morning in a secluded spot on Cape Cod, I made my first cast of the 2018 season. 

The light of a bright full moon reflected perfectly off the glass-calm surface of the water. Could there be holdover striped bass in this spot? I would soon find out. 

I kept my rod positioned at a 45 degree angle while I began my retrieve. I could feel the lure wobbling back and forth, as I reeled ever so slowly. The first 15 seconds of the retrieve were uneventful.

However, I knew that holdover stripers often lay in shallow water, and hug the shoreline in this specific spot. There was a real chance of my lure getting slammed, virtually right at my rod tip. 

With about 30 feet left in my retrieve, I decided to pause, and then lightly jerk the lure with a sudden swift movement of my fishing rod. It was at that exact moment that my lure got slammed by the first striped bass of my 2018 season.


Preparing For The Season

Since returning from Costa Rica, quite a few members here on My Fishing Cape Cod have asked if I've had any success this winter with holdover striped bass. The honest truth is that up until this morning, I have not even been trying. The past couple months have been devoted to family, business, and working around the house. I am sure many of you can relate.

For example, I am happy to report that my wife Lauren and I have just adopted a rescue dog. Rosie is her name, and we are excited to provide her with a safe home! 

In her "past life" Rosie had been confined to a crate, and was surrounded by drugs and addiction. Sadly Rosie's owner passed away recently from a drug overdose. Fortunately Rosie now has a safe and happy home.

With time I am sure Rosie will become a terrific fishing companion, however taking her with me this morning at 3am in search of holdover stripers was clearly out of the question. For now Rosie can keep me company as I crush the barbs on my hooks!

I always crush the barbs on my hooks when targeting holdovers. If you do not already crush your barbs, then I really recommend you consider doing so this 2018 season. It will help us all to release fish in good condition. 

The Calm Before The Storm

Yesterday afternoon it was clear to us that the dog was settling in well. I also realized that I had made great progress on most of the projects I had been working on all this winter. My tackle was organized for spring and my reels had been spooled with fresh line. It was finally time to go fishing again.

Before heading to bed for a catnap, I decided to check the weather. According to the forecast, the winds on Cape Cod would die down to light and variable after midnight. However, starting Thursday night the Cape was predicted to be smacked by a winter Nor'Easter, with driving rain and winds in excess of 60mph!

Now I was even more excited to have a chance of catching my first striper of the season, in the calm before the storm, before a powerful Nor'Easter would squash all chances of wetting a line.

I set my alarm for 2:50am and tried my best to drift off to sleep. Little did I know I would soon be casting plugs into a school that probably contained hundreds of striped bass.

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!

  • Charlie Beck says:

    Good morning!

    Exciting to hear about your first outing of the year. I am down on the Island and was wondering how you surmised where to find the fish. I know nothing about hold over fish. Did you learn of these fish from other people or trial and error hunting for them? Thank you.

  • Wallace Liggett says:


  • DAVID CLARK says:

    did you try using a dropper fly and do you think it would make a difference?

    • Ryan Collins says:

      I did not try using a dropper fly, but I bet they would of bit one had I tied one on. I have a couple friends who have been catching holdovers this winter using teasers. Maybe I’ll give it a shot next time out.

  • Jim Stovich says:

    Great article, I was thinking of the same thing when I seen the Barometic Pressure drop 10 points several hours before the winds & rain came. I think it was wed or thursday. You think maybe that was a factor in the action you found ? Im sure Rosie has found her “forever home” Enjoy hope she likes to swim.

    • Ryan Collins says:

      I hope she likes to swim too! It should be a fun summer with the dog.

      Honestly it seems that the holdovers are almost always willing to bite. However, I have noticed they do seem to bite with more aggression when the water temps begin to warm up during late March/early April.

      The holdovers during this trip were really sluggish, and would just barely “nudge” the lure. Next time I’ll bring a thermometer and record a water temp.

  • Charles Jordan says:

    Congratulations Ryan, nice to see there are holdovers on a regular basis looking forward to getting re-signed up soon. Now you have your four legged companion , you know what comes next , but you’re use to being up early morning. Tight Lines . Chuck

  • Timothy Mugherini says:

    So what is your thoughts on the storm surge and it’s potential affects on these hold over locations?

    I know where I found some is getting smashed right now.

    Congrats on the new baby!


    • Ryan Collins says:

      Thanks Tim! The dog is settling in great!

      I don’t think these fish or the location will be impacted much by the storm. The spot is very protected from the waves and storm surge.

      However I will be interested to see how things look whenever I return next. I am sure at a minimum some trees have fallen down in the area. There are lots of downed trees all along the coast here on the Cape.

      The beaches have definitely been affected a lot by this storm. They took a real good beating yesterday, and will take another good beating again today.

  • Mark Sullivan says:

    You are not only a good fisherman, but a good writer as well……Heminwayesque!

  • onemoretime says:

    As always a great report with great information. Question…So the stripers I saw the other day in a river should still be in the same area where I saw them?
    Congrats on the new addition to the family..

    • Ryan Collins says:

      That is interesting to hear you saw some stripers Richard!

      Yes I would expect that area to support those fish until mid to late April, which is when I believe a lot of the holdovers leave their winter spots.

  • Jeanne says:

    So happy you rescued Rosie. She is gong to love all
    Of your fishing excursions! Nice job finding holdovers Ryan.

  • Chris Ricci says:

    Hey Ryan,
    Congrats on the first striper if the year!! I am in the process of building a canal bike, any pointers?

  • David J. Lane says:

    Awesome on your findings on the schoolies

  • Congrats on the first striper of the season! Also, congrats on the puppy! I am sure you and Lauren will provide him with the perfect forever home!

  • Leslie Kalinowski says:

    Hey Ryan! I enjoyed your blog a lot! Congratulations on adopting Rosie! She looks like a great little dog! Also congratulations on a successful fishing trip for holdovers!

  • Ryan Turcotte says:

    Awesome! How did the sun affect the bite? Did you still get hits once the sun started coming up or did it shut down?

  • Brian Genovesi says:

    Awesome to hear you adopted a dog. We did the same 3 years ago. There are a ton of them out there that are great dogs that need a home. And nice job on the fish! Does seem like a lot more fish have been holding over on the cape? Or are you just getting better at finding all of them?

    • Ryan Collins says:

      Great to you hear also adopted a dog! That is terrific 👍🏻

      I have not been hearing much this winter regarding holdover stripers, with the exception of a few guys I know who have been hooking up.

      I’m pretty sure I am fishing a different spot than those guys. Right now I know of holdovers in 3 different areas.

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