Can you feel it? It feels like it’s getting to be striper time. Let’s go catch some. Folks are split on whether or not this mild winter will drastically affect the migration of our striped friends. My thoughts? I don’t think we’ll be getting anything crazy like migratory fish the first week in April, but I can see them being a week or so early.
But, one thing that the mild winter will give us for certain is some excellent pre-migration holdover fishing. There are plenty of locales that will hold early Spring fish around the Cape and South Shore. You’re looking for deeper estuaries. Don’t be afraid to go way upriver into brackish water. This may be where the fish are hiding. Focus your efforts on either side of high tide especially when there’s a lot of water running.
So, you get a window of time to get out there and target some of these homebodies. What are you throwing to them? If I only had the room to pack three lures and three flies to fool early spring bass in the estuaries, here’s what I’m packing. And let’s be honest, even if I have my whole tackle bag, I’m most likely only throwing these 3 (or 6) things.
Rapala Skitterwalk, 1/2oz
Common thought is that targeting pre-migration spring requires you to get deep and fish a low and slow presentation to be successful. While I’m not disputing this fact (see next lure), the Skitter Walk is a walk-the-dog style lure that gets bass up and eating.
This is my favorite spook-style lure for early season schoolies. Fish this one around shallow grass flats and over boulder fields in the back bays and river. Quick pops and walks with short pauses will usually get the bites. If the bass are there, they’re going to swipe at it.
This is my favorite searching lure when targeting deeper guzzles and channels in the back bays. The tail and slender profile requires minimal reeling to get the paddle tail paddlin’. White is the go-to color in the spring.
You can fish this jig a few ways. A rod lift and pause will sometimes trigger bites when nothing else will. Otherwise, a slow steady reel will be the ticket.
This is another great searching lure that is going to cause lots of commotion on the surface. This plug is great for calling up bass that may be sitting deep.
Half and Half
Anywhere you’re throwing a clouser, you can throw a half-and-half and have confidence in it’s fishing catching abilities. The extra hackles just make this fly a little more appealing to early spring bass.
Fish this on the dropoffs and along the channels of the estuaries with long strips and pauses. You can fish it with jerky strips, as well. I like them in all white with some flash, or with olive or yellow hackles. I like to tie them with long pencil-thin hackles, especially when tied flat.
When I think about confidence flies I think Ray’s Fly. This fly imitates a variety of baitfish that early spring bass will be targeting–bay anchovies, silversides and sand eels (if they’re in the area you’re fishing). Tie them small and sparse in all white, or with pink, yellow and olive.
Coop’s Floating Sand Eel
This funky looking topwater fly is one of my favorites to throw around shallow grass flats and boulder fields, especially in early mornings and around dusk into night. Fish these very slowly, pausing for long intervals and giving sharp twitches. It seems to drive early spring bass crazy. Steady retrieves will create subtle V-wakes. Tie with foam and rattle. The tail can be flash or marabou (or both).