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Holdover Stripers On The Penn Greenie | March 15 Report

Ryan Collins

48 hours ago Cape Cod got smacked by a serious winter blizzard. Some areas got a foot of heavy wet snow, and experienced wind gusts of more than 50mph. 

The blizzard was the second serious storm to hit the Cape this month and quite a few folks are still without power. There are trees down all over the place and serious erosion in many coastal areas. 

Yet the striped bass survive, hunkered down in their wintertime "holes" hidden in some of the Cape's numerous back bays, harbors and estuaries. For the holdover striped bass, it is business as usual. 


When my wife Lauren and I woke up yesterday morning, we were greeted by a true winter wonderland, as you can see in the photo below of our backyard. 

In moments like this it can be hard to believe the official start to spring is less than one week away. It can also be hard to believe that the famed striped bass migration will reach Cape Cod in just 45 more days.

Yet despite the foot of heavy, cold snow, life goes on. As I already mentioned, this is "business as usual" for the small population of holdover striped bass which choose to winter on Cape Cod. 

This is also "business as usual" for the cardinals and bluejays in our backyard, as well as for the seagulls and other seabirds I saw yesterday at the Cape Cod Canal. 

The wind was howling yesterday afternoon at the East End of the Cape Cod Canal. If you look closely in the photo above, you will also notice the turquoise/brown coloration of the canal's water, which is typical of this time of year, and is much different than the coloration often seen during summer. 

After visiting the canal, Lauren and I drove to Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable, where we encountered snowcapped dunes for as far as the eye could see. 

Despite the cold winter landscape which has descended onto the Cape, I could not shake an urge to wet a line. Sure I could of gone trout fishing in one of the Cape's many kettle ponds, but for me personally, there is nothing cooler than catching stripers in the snow

Introducing The Penn "Greenie"

For this Cape Cod holdover striper trip I would use a "new" weapon - the Penn Spinfisher 700 - also known as a "Greenie."

I picked up this reel from My Fishing Cape Cod member and rod and reel expert, David Morton of Beavertail Rod & Reel. A couple weeks ago I contacted David about an idea I had, to utilize classic and vintage fishing equipment from the 1960's. 

With so many high tech gadgets at my disposal, I figured it would be cool to take a step back into striper fishing history, and fish with a reel that is probably more than 50 years old. 

As I prepared by tackle and equipment for last night's holdover striper trip, I could not help but notice similarities between the vintage Penn Greenie and the high tech Van Staal VR150 which I used when I caught my first striper of 2018 back on March 1st.

Both reels feel rock solid, and appear to be made mostly of metal. There are very few plastic pieces on each reel. The overall design has not changed much in the last 50 years either. 

Plus David did such a nice job cleaning and refurbishing the Penn Greenie, that it was nearly as smooth as the Van Staal. Check out the video below for more details about the famous Penn Spinfisher 700 "Greenie."

One major difference worth mentioning was that I had requested David load the Penn Greenie with 17 pound Ande monofilament-instead of the 30 pound braided line I accustomed to using with my Van Staal VR150.

For this holdover striped bas trip I wanted to experience what it was like for guys who surfcast the beaches 50 years ago. Using the same reel was not enough-I needed to use the same monofilament line as well. 

With my tackle and equipment ready, I gave Lauren and smooch goodbye and began the drive to my #1 favorite holdover striped bass spot on Cape Cod, and as the sun sank low in the sky, I could not help but get excited about the possibility of catching stripers in the snow. 

  1. Hi Ry,,cool that your using old gear. those Penns are work horses , i have 2 704 in brand new condition I use one with 50 power pro for my chunking off the beach on my Penn 11 footer and i have one other greenie i use for plugging the canal..i just recently picked up the same 700 greenie you have there as kind of a collector item..i also have a 704 z black spool from the early 70s i have on my 9-6 Tsunami Elite if my main plugging set up… they have good deals over at Monahan’s boat in weymouth and Norm from MSBA. the old dogs work great. i like the teaser set up may have to try it.

    1. Hey Matt 👋

      Great to hear you are having good success with those old reels! That’s awesome.

      LMK if you try the teaser setup, and make sure to keep in touch this season.

  2. Hey Ryan, I recently purchased a Penn 704 greenie (despite the fact that my dad,82 yrs old, told me that he thought Miles Standish left it behind!). I think vintage is cool! I messaged David Morton and asked him if I could put braid on the reel. He said it was fine and he gave me a few suggestions on how to do this.He was very helpful and told me to enjoy fishing with it! I am excited on getting it rigged up for this year. I picked the reel up yesterday and I’m a little worried because I didn’t realize how heavy it was. But, I am still excited to pursue using it and finding the right rod for it. My reel is in nice shape and I love the “click!”

    1. Sounds terrific Leslie! It is pretty cool fishing with a vintage reel. While using the greenie I cannot help but think of all the fish its previous owner must of caught while using it. Amazing how well they still work after 50 years!

      I love how your dad thinks Miles Standish left it behind – hilarious! Your dad sounds like he is quite the character! lol

      Gluck and have fun finding the perfect rod for the reel. I was using a 9ft Lamiglas rated for up to 3.5oz, but I actually think it would probably pair better with my 10ft rod rated for up to 5oz. Tight lines 🎣

  3. My first salt water reel was a Penn 710, purchased on my Cape honeymoon in 1971. Still fish with it every season on the Bay side and still married to the same fine woman who just smiles when I say I need only one more plug.

    1. Amazing how long that reel has lasted. They definitely do not make budget friendly reels like that anymore!

      Also great to hear you are still married to the same woman. I am one year into marriage, so you are giving me plenty of inspiration and hope!

  4. Ryan, I tie a teaser fly to a 2oz floating casting egg for schoolies in the spring. Works a treat!

    1. Good tip! I have a casting egg, so maybe I’ll give that a try next time 👍🏻

      1. Al Gags debuted a new rig at RISAA this year. A casting egg with a 1/2 oz WhipItFish attached via a fluro leader. This “jig and float” rig is routinely used by Rhode Island anglers in the Spring and has been oft mentioned by Dave Pickering on his blog. I have made my own and dabbled with them above the boulder fields of Cuttyhunk. No positive results so far but I plan to experiment further during our MFCC trip in July.

  5. I fished with a “Greenie” for many years. It was on my rod when I fished the moss banks of Morris Island as a 10 year old kid. Then while walking the sands of Island Beach on the Jersey Shore 40 years later. Pink Ande mono was the standard line that I used and that was seen on every Jersey “head boat”. My “Greenie” finally succumbed to years of hard use and neglect. Reel maintenance, what reel maintenance?

    1. Very cool Dex. In all the conversations I’ve been having the past 24 hours with people who have, or have used these reels, the lack of maintenance has been brought up again and again. Seems like you don’t have to do too much to keep these reels going. In other words, when you purchased a greenie, you got your money’s worth.

  6. The real question is, why not a teaser the FIRST cast of the night? 🙂 N1 Ryan!

    1. Figured I would hear you chime in about that!

      Did you get that keeper the other night on the teaser or the plug?

  7. Man you’re dedicated. Teasers! 👌🏻 Had fun with them last Fall, doubling up schoolies. Would also catch shad and mackerel on the teaser. My friend caught an albie in the canal on a teaser.

    1. I think teasers are often overlooked, but I’ll definitely be trying them next time for holdovers.

      Glad to hear you had success with teasers last year!

      Tight lines 🎣

      1. There has been many a bass fooled by using a teaser. Therefore using one is always part of my standard procedure. As for the Greenie, a dab of white lithium grease in the gears once in a while will keep it purring along.

        1. Thanks for lithium grease tip! 👍🏻


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