Week(end) Warrior: A week of stripers

We’re in the thick of it now, folks. If you’re not living and breathing the spring run chaos, if you’re not reading this through blurry-eyed fatigue on three hours of sleep, if your car isn’t a disaster of sand and mud, rods and reels and flies stuck to every imaginable surface, if your iPhone can still read your thumb print, then you’re doing this whole spring-run thing wrong. Sure, you can mail it in during other parts of the season. But don’t half-ass the spring-run!

In the past week , we’ve seen larger fish filter into Buzzards Bay, Southside, Outer Cape, and the Cape Cod Bay locales. Fish up to 36” have been reported pretty much everywhere (yes, even in the Canal). Massive surface feeds have characterized most mornings in Upper BB, Plymouth Bay and Barnstable. And with each day that passes, we get closer to the arrival of the 25# class fish. There’s plenty of bait, so it could be quite literally any tide now.

Before we get to the fishing forecast, we’ve got a big-time tourney announcement: Seven Stripes is partnering up with the guys over at Plymouth High Hook for the fourth
annual High Hook Striper Tournament.
This will be on June 15th during one of the most prime dates for catching stripers. The Plymouth High Hook is a boat tournament with an entry fee of only $300 per boat. Fishing area is limited to Cape Cod Bay up to Scituate and around the Backside. If you frequent the South Shore and Cape Cod Bay areas, you won’t want to miss this tourney. Register and find more details here.

Last announcement: We’ve still got some prime striper dates available. If you want to get out and find cows on light tackle and on the fly, let us know! We’d love to take you out. We’ll be releasing a few open boat days in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Contact us if you’re interested in coming aboard.

Cheeky Tournament in review

This past weekend, Sean and I ventured on Cape to our first Cheeky Schoolie Tournament. While Team Seven Stripes fell short on the leaderboard, we did our research and stuck with our guns, fishing two spots hard in the morning. Through noon, the skunk loomed. The change in wind direction and increase in speed put a damper on any possible bite on the beach. Midway through the day, we got some excellent intel and found a few really nice fish in an estuary at the start of the tide drop, including this one, which was good for Sean’s personal best on the fly (and on a hollow fleye he tied himself).

Listen. Middle of the day striper fishing during a not very productive tide and in terrible wind conditions is tough sledding. But I can’t say enough good things about the tournament. It was quite the experience to be a part of this thing with so many like-minded folks. The “invasion” of wadered fly anglers to the Cape was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We’re already looking forward to next year—and looking for a few more Seven Stripes teams! We’re guaranteeing a top 5 finish. You heard it here first.

Did I mention team Seven Stripes won the big raffle at the party on Friday night!? Huge thanks to Cheeky, Thomas & Thomas and Scientific Anglers for the sweet new setups.

The Report

Last weekend, we christened the Mal de Mer II with a couple of fresh 6am Cumbies Sandwiches and then some 7am beers. The plan was to fish the PERFECT outgoing/dawn combination for a few hours, then head out to the haddock grounds to try and load the fish box. Did I mention we had a slight chop from a WEST wind going for us too? Well, in case you didn’t guess, we found hungry topwater fish immediately upon leaving the harbor. Birds and bass stretched across Plymouth and Duxbury Bays. We found fish up to 25” on the fly, spook plugs, and Al Gags Whip-It Eels. Let me confidently say that it’s on in the Three Bays.

We left the fish biting and moved around to a few inshore haddock spots and eventually found the fleet only a few miles from our home port. The dolphins seemed to be happy hanging around outside of the fleet, but we moved right in and hooked into a 5 or 6 fish fairly quickly on hi-lo rigs tipped with clams. As the morning wore on, the fishing slowed for us not anchored, but some boats still did well with a bare hooks and clams. It was very cool to see an inshore stock of haddock.

During the week, I focused my efforts on fishing some of the Upper Buzzards Bay rivers from shore and got into mostly micro-sized fish. Last night, I fished the top half of the outgoing in a deep channel with some fast moving water.

I hooked into a few dinks but eventually felt the pull of a nice bass that took the line right out of my hand and brought me to the backing multiple times on my 8wt. My heart was-a-pumpin’. I finally got him in and estimated him to be around 26” or 27”. I got one picture and put him in the water for an additional photo sesh while he got his bearings, but he wanted out immediately and kicked off into the darkness. He came on a yellow half-and-half. The Rivers will continue to hold quality fish for the next few weeks.

The Plan

This weekend, if you’re fishing by boat, I would target the surface feeds at dawn with bigger spooks and flies. Then, I’d dredge the bottom with Hogy Protails or larger flies. Bass will be eating sea herring and mackerel.

If you can find mackerel (which you should be able to around East End, Barnstable Harbor, Scorton Ledge and Gurnet Point) I’d throw ‘em on a circle hook and setup on some structure or an outgoing rip. This is the time in the year when the live bait bite really kicks off. There have been reports of fish up to 38” in the Three Bays and similar size in Barnstable Harbor and these bass have been eating mackerel, river herring and sea herring.

This would be my strategy in Buzzards Bay, too. Hit the early morning topwater, run through the canal for mackerel, then liveline in Buzzards.The seabass opener was on Saturday and by all accounts, the fishing was fast and limits were filled quickly.  

Expect some of the popular boat spots in Cape Cod Bay to light up this weekend. Billingsgate, Race Point, Backside, and East End should all be good bets for the arrival of the larger size class of fish.

From shore, the Southside, Barnstable Harbor, and of course the Rivers (Wareham, Weweantic, Bass, etc.) have been great, especially on the outgoing. Don’t be afraid to throw larger baits to these fish.

The night bite in the estuaries and rivers around the Cape has been excellent. I did well with a black deceiver and, believe it or not, a Ray’s Fly in Chartreuse. With a bright moon, use bright colors.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Canal bite. Actually, no I won’t mention it. Carry on.

Get out there and catch ‘em up.

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