When striped bass make their initial push up through Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Bay in early May, one of the most surefire ways to find them from shore is to target the boulder fields that dot the area.
When I fish boulder fields, I try to find the largest boulders next to the deepest water possible. The structure acts as a natural wind/wave break, and supports good habitat for stripers. Try to find sea birds, such as turns, gulls, and cormorants. They’ll likely be diving on juvenile sea herring, small silversides, and spearing and are an easy indicator of active fish. The west coast of Martha’s Vineyard and most of the Buzzards Bay shoreline feature easily accessible boulder fields. A few examples are The Knob, Little Island, and Mashnee Island.
Soft plastics like the 7” Hogy Original in Arkansas Shiner pattern is a great match to the color, size, and profile of the local sea herring. If you see smaller bait, downsizing to a 4” Skinny or Floating Hogys are great alternatives. Use baits that have a decent amount of heft and cast far to make sure you can cover as much water as possible.
When the water is calm and clear, fish the bait as slowly as possible in the pockets between the boulders. Cast the lure and allow it to drop for a 3 count, bringing back the slack line as you drop the tip of the rod. Using a sharp snapping motion from 4 o’clock to 1 o’clock causes the bait to erratically dart upward, undulate, and then drift nose down. Be sure to pick up any slack line as quickly as possible so you can feel lighter bites. Maximize the time your bait is spent in a “falling” motion to trigger aggressive strikes from the stripers. On calm days, use 1/4oz Barbarian Jigheads. In winds over 10mph, upgrade to the 3/8oz or heavier as needed.
Rod: 9’ St. Croix Triumph Surf ML
Reel: Shimano Ultegra CI4 5500 XSB
Line: 55-pound Power Pro
Leader: 18” leader of 20-pound Seaguar Abraz-x Fluorocarbon