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Schoolie Stripers Are Still Abundant On Cape Cod

Ryan Collins

It may be November and it's no doubt getting late in the Cape Cod fishing season, but schoolie striped bass are still present on Cape in strong numbers.

On Wednesday morning November 1st, I decided to do some surfcasting for stripers. It was the first time I had been on the beach in a couple weeks.

The air was a nippy 38 degrees but the ocean water was probably around 60 degrees. The early morning light was shining through a misty veil of "sea smoke" which was rising from the water's surface.


Dozens of terns were plucking baitfish from the shallows, as schoolie striped bass corralled minnows up against the shoreline. A pair of seals were cruising 100 yards offshore and there seemed to be a lot of life in the area.

There were larger schools with bigger flocks of birds further down the beach, but I didn't have the time or motivation to chase them down. I fished for about an hour, caught 4 healthy schoolies and had several missed hits. 

The Joe Baggs Albie Chaser worked very well and is becoming one of my "go-to" jigs for schoolie stripers.

I am friends with Joe D'Agostino (the owner of Joe Baggs Tackle) and I am happy to announce that Joe and his company have hopped onboard as an official sponsor 2018 of My Fishing Cape Cod TV!

Last year the schoolie striper action during November was phenomenal and it seems like we might have a similar run of fish this year. 

For more information about where I have been finding all these schoolies, please check out this forum thread which contains all the details. Also be sure to keep tabs on our forum over the next few days and weeks for more updates about stripers, tuna and trout being posted by our members.

As always - tight lines and take care!

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. Most of these beach vids seem to me would be great for more fly rod action. I see you fish the beach a lot.. This morning here looks like getting them on the fly would have been perfect conditions wise…

  2. Always love hearing your fish stories and watching your videos- keep’m comming!


    1. Great to have you following along Josiah.

      I also have your report about your first keeper striper just about ready to publish. I figure it will make for some good “off season” reading here on MFCC.

  3. Great job Ryan! always interesting to read the comments in your forum. Thanks for sharing!

    1. And thank you Leslie for following along with MFCC!

  4. Ryan,
    My understanding of what triggers the Autumn migration has always been that it was based upon water temperature. In this scenario the water becomes too cold to support the growth of phytoplankton (microscopic plants). Zooplankton (microscopic animals) which feed on the Phytoplankton then die off which effects other organisms up the food chain such as larger plankton and krill. This is what the small baitfish eat and when it is not available the baitfish move to southern waters where the temperature is more moderate and there are available sources of food. I always thought that when the baitfish moved the larger fish followed.
    Yet the last two years we have seen the large Bass start moving southwest through the Canal in late August and throughout September. Three years ago in October there were large schools of bait all over Cape Cod but no Bass on them. During the last two Octobers we have had the same masses of bait but these last two years they have had large numbers of micro schoolies on them. There have been reports of larger Bass out at Stellwagon but along the shore they are tiny. This latest pattern seems to be holding both on Cape Cod and throughout Rhode Island. The small Bass are everywhere, but the bigger fish have left. We have to go to Connecticut and the Jersey Shore until we start seeing reports of many bigger Stripers being caught.

    So the big question is WHY? Why do the bigger fish leave early, when there is still plenty of bait around. Why are we inundated with the smaller fish when we didn’t notice this many during the summer? Why haven’t the smaller fish left as well?
    As your video demonstrates Ryan, the water is warm, there is plenty of bait, all the big fish have left, and there are schoolies all over. These schoolies also seem to be a bit bigger than the micros we had last year during this time.

    I have been giving this matter a lot of thought and although I have more questions than answers, I do have some theories and possible explanations.
    + The bigger fish have done this same migration before, some of them several times. They may be reacting to sun angle and other seasonal indicators that they have grown accustomed to over that time. The water temperature starting to decline may be more important than the actual water temperature. The reliance on seasonal indicators may be an instinctive protection so they don’t get caught by sudden cold snaps which would slow down their body just at the time when they need to swim great distances. It seems that the bigger fish also leave before the major storms arrive in our area or right after the first big one, like Jose this year.
    + The smaller fish do not have the history of prior migrations to fall back on. They may be more likely to stay if there is bait and the water is still in a desirable temperature range. They may also not want to mix with the larger fish while migrating as larger Bass do eat smaller Bass.
    + We may be seeing more smaller fish because there just are more smaller fish due to some successful spawning years recently. Also during the summer the small fish may be in the shallow water estuaries, not off the beaches where they are now. Also, once the larger fish have left, it is now safe for the masses of schoolies to be in the waters where there were larger fish during the summer. The smaller fish do not have to compete for food or worry about becoming food.
    It is all very fascinating to try to understand what we are seeing happening in front of us. What do you think?

    1. I had a lot of fun reading your comment Dex!

      As you mention, I have also heard of giant masses of big bass schooled up far offshore at Stellwagen and to the east of Stellwagen. The fish are packed tightly together and moving slowly in one general direction. I have been told this happens during September but I have not witnessed it with my own eyes.

      What I have seen with my own eyes are big schools of small stripers packed densely close together. This past September we filmed a school using a drone that was perhaps a mile long, with hundreds of thousands of bass, packed densely like bunker, one right next to the other right up against shore. The drone footage will be part of our new TV show this winter, but you can see underwater footage of that “mega school” here

      I don’t really know where I’m going with this and I definitely don’t have any answers. It is all a mystery to me. As soon as I think I have something figured out, things change again and leave me scratching my head.

      Another thing I’m really curious about is when the small population of big holdovers arrive on Cape, and what sparks them to holdover in the first place?

      More questions for another day I suppose.

      1. You said holdovers arrive on Cape? I thought holdovers were fish that didn’t migrate? Are they fish that only migrate from say Maine to the Cape? Or are they maybe both and/or we don’t really know because they’re not tracked?

        1. I believe we don’t know for sure because they haven’t been tagged and tracked.

          Just one more mystery to add to the books…..

          1. It would be cool if you could partner with a tagging group and tag a few of the many holdovers you seem to catch on the cape…see where they pop up next.

            1. That could be something worth looking into for sure.

      2. Are the fish at Stellwagen headed south toward the Canal or around the outer Cape?

        1. According to my source, they were actually headed north.

          This was during early September, but I must stress this is all second hand information.


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