Weekend Warrior: Now THIS is striper fishing!

(Sorry for the Star Wars episode 1 reference)

Tomorrow the calendar will change to the sixth month, which means one thing: If you have the means, get out there and fish. Because the next three weeks are arguably the best fishing weeks of the calendar year in our Bay. Each tide, more and more bait is pouring in. Squid, herring, mackerel, silversides, buttferfish, are all present right now, with large striped bass hot on their fins.

This is also the time of year to try out different methods. Live bait, cut bait, topwater plugs, fly fishing… You can really use any method successfully right now. June is the confidence building month. I’ll run through a few of these methods later in this post.

Onto the report.


The Report

I got a taste of Spring run fishing last weekend in Plymouth Bay. I’m working on a video blog for this trip but I’ll hit on it briefly here.

I took a few buddies out on the Mal de Mer early Saturday morning. The weather app said relatively high winds, but we’d be staying in the Bay so I didn’t really care all that much. Might be a little sporty but we’re salty and we can deal with it (just kidding, I can be a baby).

We arrived at the 1 can and it was calm, with a slight breeze blowing out of the South. Perfect. The wind did threaten to pick up over the course of the day but it never did, and we enjoyed beautiful spring weather on the water.


The mackerel were spread out but catchable. It took some trolling around but we found enough to fill up the livewell. In the Bay, we found loads of fish working small bait onto the sandbars from the channel edges. The last two hours of the incoming can sometimes be a little slow in the Bay for whatever reason, but today, it had the fish in a frenzy. Sean was high hook with this part, and did well with a mackerel-color SP Minnow fished at a steady retrieve, cast not toward the breaking fish but toward the shallower water and working off the edge of the dropoffs.

After the topwater bite died, we tried a few spots with live mackerel to no success. Like I said, the incoming tide can be very tough to figure out, depending on the time of year. We opted to fish some of the shallower channels by Clarks Island, and drift with the incoming. In this area, it’s a fairly rocky bottom at around 20’ and comes up to around 8’. This was the ticket. The bass seemed to be hanging in shallower water.

We immediately began marking bigger fish, and before long, we heard the buttery drag of a Penn baitrunner. Fish on.

We caught eight fish up to 30” until we ran out of mackerel. We ended up catching two monster mackerel, one of which we used as cut bait, but it didn’t’ produce like the live tinker mackerel did.


Here’s a quick PSA. I’ve always used circle hooks when fishing mackerel. This year I switched to inline, after using offset for the past few seasons. The difference was otherworldly. Every fish was hooked securely in the corner of the mouth. You need to make the switch to inline circle hooks.

The first keeper was released, as is customary, but we kept one for the table.

I won’t go into great detail as to what happened the rest of the day, because it involves not catching many more fish and getting a tow in from Tow Boat US, but the important thing is, the Mal de Mer is back in action for this weekend.

The Forecast

I did a little post-work, pre-weekend scouting trip last night and found a very, very snotty bay but a few stripers willing to eat. The mackerel were a bit spread out, but I’ll attribute this to the conditions. The outgoing tide produced and we caught a few fish up to small keeper size.

Weather is going to be an issue this weekend (again). Saturday early AM looks extremely calm in the Bay, but a hard North wind will kick up around 10am. Unless this forecast changes, I may be staying local. As much as I want to head across to P Town or out to Billingsgate, it would not be fun if that weather hit a little early.

Sunday may be a no go. 15kt-20kt from the NE? No Bueno. Let’s hope this changes to something more manageable.

Buzzards Bay/Canal

There have been scattered reports of big fish caught in the canal, but the majority have been cookie-cutter to mid-size keepers. This action will surely pick up as we get closer to the new moon.

The rivers were hot last weekend and early in the week but died down soon after. This will turn into a nighttime pursuit for the rest of the year.

Buzzards Bay is still sea bass-ville. Bird Island to Cleveland Ledge is loaded all throughout the water column.

Cape Cod Bay

Stripers up to 35# were all caught throughout the Bay this week. Marshfield, Duxbury/Plymouth, Barnstable, Billingsgate Race Point are all hot spots. Wherever you head, there will be a productive spot. In these locations, fish are feeding on sea herring, mackerel, and especially squid. Make sure you have artificials to mimic these.

IMG_4431Here is where and how I’ll be fishing. I’m planning on getting out well before dawn Saturday morning and loading up on mackerel. Macks can be found in numbers at all the usual spots—out front of Gurnet, East End, and Barnstable.

If the wind looks calm, I’m shooting across to Race Point. The Race has been hot with topwater action, so this will be the first plan. If not, we’ll cruise the drop off, drop a few macks in and hopefully find a few 30# fish. These fish will be on sand eels, so a Bill Hurley sand eel dropped vertically will work here as well, as long as you’re in 60’ or more of water.Photo Jul 23, 8 28 10 AM

Other corners of the Bay will suffice if the wind off the Race is too tough to handle. Billingsgate to Barnstable has been on fire, with big topwater stripers feeding on squid, butterfish and herring. For one reason or another, Guppy plugs work very well when squid are present. IMG_2713The new Bill Hurley squid jerk bait will work if the fish are holding a little deeper.

File Mar 15, 10 38 02 PM

Plymouth/Duxbury Bay

If the wind comes a little earlier, I’ll be perfectly content to stay within the confines of the Three Bays. High tide at 2am and a West wind on Saturday should be a perfect recipe for topwater action. The falling tide always produces. There are four or five rips around Saquish, Clarks Island, Plymouth Beach that seem to always hold fish on the outgoing tide.

I’ll be drifting mackerel through these rips, or throwing softbaits or clouser minnows looking hook up with something large.

Big flounder and tautog have also been reported in the Three Bays. We’ll look to see if this bite stays consistent throughout the early part of the season. Stay tuned.


That’ll do it. Go catch a few, will ya? And stay safe.

Billy Mitchell

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