Strategy: Open Water Trolling for Stripers Breaking Surface #166

Open Water Trolling for Stripers Breaking Surface

Open Water Example 2: Breaking Fish
It’s an early summer situation on Cape Cod. Same general situation as Example 1, but the action has heated up, and there are breaking fish. There are a lot of boats in the area and there is a lot of competition to get to the fish.

Order of Operations:

  1. Lure Selection: I am going to switch out of the umbrella rigs and swap out to (1) olive 4oz Hogy Pro Tail Paddle and (1) green 6oz Hogy Pro Tail Paddle for extra maneuverability. This way I have hedged my bets that I am matching the hatch since there is a strong possibility that there are mackerel and sand eels in the area. Plan B consists of highly visible (1) Pink and (1) Orange Hogy Perfect Squids trolled at higher speeds to draw an impulse strike.
  2. Work The Tells: I am obviously going to key in on the breaking fish but I am also going to watch the fish finder for targets in the process. Sometimes the deeper, loner fish separated from the school are more aggressive. With either the Hogy Pro Tails or the Perfect Squids, I can drop to the bottom quickly.
  3. Wind: Even though it’s still windy, I brought my lines in for sake of maneuverability.
  4. Tide/Current: I’m chasing schools and I am more focused on approaching the school properly than I am on the relative current direction but I will be sure to make note of boat/tide direction with every hook up.
  5. Light: A non-issue with breaking fish. I’m now focused on imitator and attracting colors.
  6. Depth: We are targeting topwater fish, but we are poised to drop on a fish if we see on the fish finder. In doing so, we’ll take the boat out of gear and put the reel into free-spool for a moment if over 40 feet deep.
  7. Approach: If I am approaching breaking fish, I will pick up the boat speed to as much as 5 or 6 knots to cover some ground and back off once near the school. I’ll give the school a wide berth and try to approach from up wind and have my lures pass in front of the fish, NEVER across the school or from behind. This will spook them. It’s important to note here that stripers won’t mind aggressive approaches the first couple of times but they will become increasingly boat shy as the morning wears on. If all boats exercise the same consideration, the action will be hotter for much longer and everybody catches more fish.