Over the last several days, I have received a surprising number of requests to book early season striper trips here on the Cape and that has left me in a difficult position.
You see, when folks ask me if there are schoolies around, my answer is a definitive yes.
On the other hand, as a guide who takes his responsibility very seriously regarding the quality of the trips that I schedule, the big issue for me is whether I can get those bass to eat.
Frankly, the big issue right now is the stretch of gray, wet days we have been experiencing, along with way too much wind out of the east and northeast.
Early season success is often predicated on the amount of sun on any given day, which typically warms our shallower inshore waters sufficiently to get the bait moving, thereby providing any bass in the area a reason to increase their activity level.
I have spoken to numerous people who have visited the Weweantic and Agawam/Wareham Rivers, two of the best spots to visit when it comes to early season angling. The typical white jighead/soft plastic combinations or bucktail jigs have produced a mixture of holdover “mud puppies” and what appear to be fresh arrivals based on the sea lice they are carrying.
Up inside Buttermilk Bay, it’s the same story, with flyrodders joining the spin crew in getting into the action. Chartreuse, olive, and white are productive colors, whether alone our in combination, with smaller, three to four-inch Deceivers an excellent choice.
These locales quite often fish best on the afternoon tides when the water has had a chance to warm up, with high, dropping water worth checking out. Although I am a fan of early morning fishing, the reality is that with the current weather conditions and water temperatures, just waiting a few hours after sunrise, say into mid-morning, can make a difference.
Most of the anglers who have been brave enough to venture out have been doing so on foot, with boaters not as inclined to deal with the stiff, chilly winds that can make running in an open boat a less than pleasant activity at the moment.
On the other hand, kayak anglers have taken advantage of their ability to get into shallow, slightly warmer waters. My friend Mark Tenerowicz sent me a photo of his first bass of the season, one of several that he caught inside a protected cove around Mattapoisett Harbor. Mark is a big fan of paddle tail plastics and that was what he used to catch his fish, emphasizing that small and white were the way to go, with the Hogy Pro Tail Paddles an excellent option.
Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said the same lures have been picking up schoolies inside the Canal, with fish moving up to the herring run on the west tide. He did mention that bunker and herring colors have been more effective at times, with a few anglers also turning to metal jigs.
There have been a few whispers about fish being caught up inside Scorton Creek, but given the relatively mild conditions this winter, I suspect that these are holdover fish since I didn’t hear about any cold weather fish kills thereabouts.
I have spied a few trucks parked around the Pocasset River, Monk’s Park, and Monument Beach, but during my visits I haven’t really seen much in the way of life, whether it is in the form of bait or bass.
The word from Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth is that Evan Eastman has been fishing the West Falmouth and Old Silver Beach areas pretty regularly, but so far he hasn’t been successful in locating some early season stripers.
We have had a few sunnier, nicer days and kayak anglers have managed to pluck out a handful of schoolies up inside the Three Bays, but Jim said that John Waring visited the Narrows earlier this week and came up empty.
My plan for tomorrow is to brave the snot and check out Waquoit Bay, one of my favorite early season locations, mainly because I can usually hide from the wind and there is typically a good amount of life there at this time of year. In fact, Jim reported that a shore-bound angler saw a good amount of splashing off the Seapit area; schools of pogies are typically present at this point in the season in the upper reaches of the bay and I suspect that is what this individual saw flipping around, but who knows?
Those baitfish often draw early arriving bluefish up inside Waquoit, with my first choppers of the season coming from this area the last three years in a row, typically by about the second week in May.
That said, Bruce Miller reported that along with some small bass, a bluefish was caught earlier this week around the Dowses Beach/Centerville River area. Given that this area usually has an early season mix of pogies and squid, I think it certainly is possible that one lonely, confused blue made its way to these waters.
Speaking of squid, Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis emphasized that the draggers haven’t found any large concentrations of Loligo yet. They are out there pretty much every day and I certainly expect to see some recreational boats out there next week, especially if May starts to shine a bit.
Shore anglers have managed to pick up a few decent tautog inside the west end of the Canal, noted Hayden Gallagher at Red Top in Buzzards Bay, but boaters have been few and far between when it comes to venturing out to the usual hotspots in the bay. Hayden reminded me that at this time in the season, tautog move into shallower water close to shore as part of their spawning routine, giving folks who fish for them from terra firma solid opportunities to catch larger fish, whether it is up inside the Wareham Narrows, around Woods Hole, and even the multitude of jetties that dot the southside of the Cape.
Finally, although the current weather conditions are not what I would consider conducive to worm hatches, Scott Dietrich, a member of the Cape chapter of TU and the Cape Cod Flyrodders, texted me to say he was heading to the salt ponds in Rhode Island very soon to fish the worm events that often last for weeks thereabouts. Who knows? A couple of days of sunny weather combined with a moon tide just might bring the worms out of the mud, providing me an opportunity to try the new Hogy worm plastics.