I feel like I’ve barely blinked since the last report, but it has been over a week. I guess that’s what happens when you’re fishing flat-out nearly every day. Being busy is great, especially when the fishing is world-class. The Cape Cod striper bite has been nothing short of phenomenal. Even the “bad” days have been better than what many people encounter in an entire season. Here’s a quick synopsis:
Most trips in the past week were spent chasing massive flocks of gulls and gannets with the help of my new Raymarine HD radar.
I finished my 5-day stint with the Cape Cod Salties in grand fashion. This was a make-good for a previous trip that was blown out, and this time the guys got everything an angler could hope for: flat-calm seas, sunny skies and tons of big fish that wanted to smash topwater plugs. They crushed fish on every cast for nearly half a day, using both spin and fly gear.
The next group was my new Gumbas from the north shore. The Borellis are a group of big guys, and they wanted big fish. And that’s exactly what they got. They had chartered a full-day trip for bass, and when the lowest guy’s fish count broke the 50 mark, we quit counting. That’s over 200 stripers on light tackle in one day. Bada-bing, bada-boom goes the Ocean Lure into a huge striper’s mouth. The guys have never seen anything like the acres of crashing fish we had all day long. They were on the move and we covered a half marathon to stay with them, but it was definitely worth it.
Mother nature is like the cranky old lady next door: she can’t stand to see a party going on without trying to break it up. Our next trip was with my regular sport Scott, and the east winds gave us slower-than-normal fishing and nasty thunderstorms that had us racing for the ramp early. It’s a good thing the boat is set up with Raymarine’s Sirius Satellite weather, as we can see what’s coming and get out of its way or run for the barn before we get caught in it.
The next day we got the leftover wind that the tornadoes out west didn’t use up. Marc was the recipient of some great fishing under wicked windy conditions. Despite 3’ to 5’ seas and howling winds, Marc switched between spin and fly rod to land some really impressive fish. Targeting huge fly-rod bass is a challenge in the best conditions, but gale-force winds make things infinitely harder. Marc wasn’t fazed a bit, and worked the long rod like a pro. To be fair, his job was made a bit easier by the sheer volume of fish we had.
I thought my Raymarine HD fishfinder was going to tilt like a jackpotted slot machine from all the fish under the boat.
Capt. Shaun Ruge has been helping out with mate duty on many of my trips, but jumped into the captain’s chair with a very successful trip, which you may have already read about on BoatingLocal in Riptide Report: June 6, 2011.
This gave me a break to regroup, and when I got back behind the helm of the Riptide, I had Big Mike, Jr. and special guest “Shark Girl”—a.k.a. 2-time world record-holder Melissa Ciolek, who was back from college and eager to get into some light-tackle striper fishing. The fish were boiling on the surface next to the boat for hours; I guess they all wanted to get a glimpse of Melissa ;)
My regular sport, Dr. Paul, heard the bite was off the charts, and jumped on a last-minute cancellation. I’m betting he’s a lot happier than the guy who was forced to cancel. Paul showed up with a shiny new 9-weight and told me that, despite trying, he had never landed a striper on the fly—ever. On his third cast he christened the new rod with a 15-pound striper, and it just got better from there. The day was spent tossing flies at a 3-mile expanse of bass from 10 to 30 pounds.
When Paul got tired of waving the long rod, he played a game we call “Ocean Lure Keep Away”. That’s when you throw an Ocean Lure Mackerel Swimmer into 10,000 bass chasing tinker macks out of the water and try to get it back to the boat without a fish attached. Paul’s not very good at the game. He only got the lure back without a fish attached 3 to 4 times all day.
Finally, Big Mike was back with his good friend Phil. Phil had never landed a striper before, but soon broke the ice with a 35-pounder.
Some smaller bass along with a spectacular whale show made for a trip Phil won’t soon forget.
Nearly all the fish we caught on plugs during the week took an Ocean Lures Swimming Mackerel. These lures were so effective that I had to call the factory for a rapid resupply. Paul and the guys at Ocean Lures were able to get me replacements for the ones that the thousands of bass we landed had destroyed or broken off. The lures were an exact match for the bait in the area in size, shape, color and action. It almost wasn’t fair to use them, but there is just something about watching 20 to 30 bass fight over a surface plug that kept me tying them on.
The rest of the gear we used was my standard arsenal of St. Croix Tidemaster rods and Shimano Saragossa Reels loaded with the new Sufix 832 braid. I’ve been testing reels for Shimano, and I have to say I am very impressed with how these small reels are handling the abuse we are giving them. Using heavy drags and braided line, we have landed nearly 1,000 big stripers in the past couple weeks and have not had a single issue on any of the 8 reels in service. Now that’s impressive.
So with fishing like that, you can see why I’ve been too busy to file a report. Fortunately, Capt. Shaun was able to spell me for a day and let me catch up on shorebound stuff. I’ll try to get my next update posted in a more timely manner, but if the fishing stays hot, all bets are off!