Welcome back Striped Bass! We’ve been waiting for so long! The good news is the schoolies came in early, and we were catching good numbers of 22-27″ fish on both light tackle and fly as early as April 20th. The bad news is the cold and wind since then has really stalled out the larger fish, who seem to be hanging back in Long Island sound and RI waters. That’ll change any day with fresh and hungry big striped bass running through our waters, and I for one can’t wait!
With the water temps still in the low 50s, slow slow slow has been the name of the game. The fish are also on some really small baits, so in many cases the fly is outproducing even the smallest of light tackle by a good margin. On the fly, the top producers have been size 2 or smaller clousers in olive/white and tan/white. The next best producer has been the hoo fly in bay anchovy colors. Just get it out there and do medium length slow strips, and they’ll hit it. Slow enough that you’re almost dead sticking sometimes. If you hang around the bay entrances on the lower cape into the evening, there have been sporadic worm hatches as well near the mouths that have been a whole lot of fun. I can’t find the name of the fly pattern we’ve been using, but just imagine a red colored wooly bugger with a black spot on the head.
On light tackle the best bet has been the Hogy Epoxy Jigs in 3/8oz. The best colors have been pink and olive, but on more than one occasion they wouldn’t touch anything other than albie crack. Just remember, slow slow slow. Some days when they’re a little more aggressive, we’ve been able to get them on top water using bone colors walk the dog style lures like the Rebel Jumpin Minnow.
The Massachusetts Black Sea Bass opener was May 18th and between striper feeds we had some fun jigging up some nice sized Black Sea Bass. The schools we were able to find were massive and covered huge ground, but were mainly smaller 12-14″ fish. Trying to upsize baits and hooks just ended up with more smaller fish, so we went a different tactic and threw on some Hogy Squinnow jigs. Conventional wisdom would say we should have been catching more and more smaller fish, but it really did a good job of getting the larger males to bite. Glow Pink and Green were the most productive colors in the end and put a boat limit on in just under an hour.