Weekend Warrior: Waiting on the stripers

At this point last year, miles of migrating micro and schoolie-sized striped bass had invaded the rivers, estuaries and ocean fronts of Buzzards and Cape Cod Bays.

This year? Not so much.

But I just need to keep telling myself this, as I pour over blue-colored water temperature maps and reports reading “not here yet:” The stripers will get here. Just enjoy this part of the season for the many other fishing options we have. And there are plenty!


Freshwater: Lunker action heating up, Breeder trout sipping midges and mayflies

A few nights ago, during a massive midge hatch in a pond by my house, I decided to go back to my roots and try to catch a few sunfish. I find this type of thing therapeutic, nostalgic even. Just me, a pond at dusk, bluegills dimpling the surface, and a 5wt fly rod, with a carefully tied 10’ leader ending in 7x tippet and a size 18 adam’s fly. Yep, just like fishing for bluegill when I was 8.

Anyway, I hooked a little perch on my first cast and slowly brought it in. Suddenly, it was knocked into the air. I froze. The perch floated motionless in the water, and a monster pickerel slowly nosed it. The pickerel came back a few more times, each time attacking a new perch or bluegill, but never running off with it.

This got the blood pumping.

There was a report last week of a massive 9+ pound largemouth caught on the cape. If you’re going to catch a trophy larry, this is the time of year to do it. Target ponds with either stocked trout or active herring runs. Big swimbaits are always the most effective way to target large, but senkos fished wacky or texas-rigged seem to work too, although I’m not sure why this is. Crankbaits will work too.


Big trout are also reportedly in the mix. The big breeders were released into a few choice ponds just off the Cape last week, and some have been caught. Woolly buggers and other large bait imitations will work on the fly, but don’t overlook a nymph or dry. Elephants sometimes eat peanuts.

Spin fishermen have been having success with larger crankbaits. I spoke with someone who got two 20+ inch browns on two consecutive casts with a Crystal Minnow.



Saltwater: Waiting on the parade

NOAA weather for this weekend in Cape Cod Bay:

Saturday: SW Wind 7 to 9 kts, becoming S in the afternoon. Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing. Seas 1 to 2 ft.

Saturday night: SSW Wind 7 to 12 kt. A slight chance of showers after 4am. Seas around 1 ft.

Sunday: SSW wind 7 to 10 kt. A chance of showers, mainly between 8am and 3pm. Seas around 1 ft.


NOAA weather for Stellwagen Bank:

Saturday: SSW wind around 8 kt becoming S in the afternoon. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny. Seas 2 to 3 ft.

Saturday night: S wind 8 to 12 kt. A slight chance of showers after 4am. Seas around 3 ft.

Sunday: SSW wind 8 to 10 kt. A chance of showers, mainly between 9am and 2pm. Seas around 3 ft.


Migratory bass reports have been few and far between, with the exception of a few scattered fish on the Vineyard, and possibly a few on the South facing beaches (depending on who you believe).

In consulting some experts (ie, forum commenters who know way too much about weather to not be professional weathermen), two factors will lead to a sharp increase in water temps over the next week: Warmer nights and Southerly winds.

These warmer temperatures will bring all sorts of prey and predator to the table. This of course, includes striped bass. Although it’s been quiet to start, this season may begin with an explosion.


Holdover fishing is excellent, if you’re into this type of thing (and honestly, who isn’t?). Fish up to keeper size have been caught on swim shads and swimming plugs. They’ve even been hitting the occasional topwater plug.

Here’s a hint. There are a few runs that have been loaded with tasty herring. Find these runs, go a bit downstream, and find the fish. Easy. Outgoing tide seems to get these fish in the feeding mood.

Here’s my plan for the weekend. The Mal de Mer is good to go, and Saturday looks like the pick of the weekend, so we’ll be heading out to try and catch some tasty flounder first thing Saturday morning.

A double seaworm rig, bounced off a sandy bottom at high tide should do the trick. While I haven’t heard reports of flounder being caught in Plymouth Bay yet, I have heard of some up a bit north of us. So, as they say, let’s give it a shot. I’ll make my own report.

Haddock are abundant on the bank. Mostly on the northern side, but southwest ledge, southeast ledge seem to be getting better. They’re fairly shallow right now—around 80-120 feet, so make sure to target these areas.

A diamond jigged bounced right off the bottom, with a couple PINK teasers will work the best.

The weather has been tough for us on the smaller boat side, but one of these days, we’ll get a nice weather window. And you better believe I’ll be out there filling the cooler.


That’s all, folks. That first push into Buzzards Bay should be coming any day. Who’s heading out to meet them?


Billy Mitchell

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