SOUTH SIDE OF CAPE COD BEST FISHING SPOTS FOR SPRING STRIPERS
If given the choice, the South Side of Cape Cod is a great early season area to play. You have a lot of options in this area in terms of places to hide from bad weather, various terrains and bait sources and plenty of Plan B opportunities if the striper fishing doesn’t pan out in the form or large scup and sea bass in the surrounding areas.
Monomoy can hold a lot of small, early season schoolies but due to its proximity to cooler water, it tends to heat up a little behind the other spots on the south side. Your best bet for Monomoy in May is to fish with small, soft plastics and Hogy Epoxy Jig® Lures that mimic sand eels.
The Shoals off Popponesset (Succonesset Shoal) are a better bet for larger, keeper-sized fish than monomoy. In fact, Popponesset is a well-known early season striper spot and that’s no surprise with the proximity to where the squid season ends up — close to Collier Ledge. The rips off Poppy are very shallow and well-suited for casting topwater poppers and unweighted soft baits. Pink and amber would be the logical choices for spring fishing Popponesset area, as you would likely want to imitate squid.
3. All Estuary Spillways
If you’re in a small boat, your best bet would be to fish the mouths of the estuaries and bays on an outgoing tide. I recommend choosing from our small Paddle Tail selection such as our Hogy 3.5-inch and 4.5-inch Pro Tail Paddles. Bring your ultra-light outfits but be ready to stumble across bigger fish that have moved into the area. I’m always amazed at how some of the small run-offs, such as Trunk River in Falmouth, can hold the biggest fish. It’s funny how confident I am in these spots when fishing from shore but feel funny when fishing from a boat.
4. Halfway Shoal
Another early season hot spot is Halfway Shoal, which is the tail end of L’Hommedieu Shoal, located approximately halfway between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs, hence the name! I’m not exactly sure what holds fish at this one particular spot, whether it’s herring, scrap or squared, perhaps a mix of all three. Boats commonly fish the swing while trolling wire or lead core in front of the rip.
An alternative to trolling is to vertical jig as you drift over the rip.
This is done with a series of short drifts. Start by positioning up tide in the smooth, more shallow area and drift over the structure, into the deeper water. Most hits will occur just after the drop-off. My favorite Hogy Pro Tail Paddle for this method is the 6.5″ in 4oz. or 5oz. The lure has enough weight to get down to the strike zone but still small enough to offer just the right profile of a number of the local bait fish including herring and small scup.
Below is a video that was filmed in mid May at Halfway Shoal.
Have your topwater gear ready because stripers will often move through here chasing squid. If you see surface cruising fish, position your boat such that you are stemming the tide just in front of the rip. Now, cast up tide, and allow your lure to fish the swing. My favorite lure for this situation is an unweighted Hogy 10″ Original on a 10/0 Unweighted Swimbait Hook.
5. Middle Ground
Not too far away from Halfway Shoal, you’ll find Middle Ground which can hold aggressive early season stripers when squid layup in the rip. You definitely want to fish an unweighted or lightly weighted Hogy Original on a swimbait hook here (see links above for purchase) because the water can be quite weedy. This happens because the bottom in the sound gets stirred up from the draggers and the weeds get swept through the rip. Like referenced above, at halfway, you’ll want to stem the tide, cast up tide and into the rip.
Middle ground is a classic “stem the tide” casting spot and can get pretty Nat Geo grade hot and heavy when the stripers get keyed in on squid. You’ll be amazed at how many big fish will cartwheel on topwater baits in the rip. Here’s a diagram on how we like to fish a rip and below that is an example video.
6. Gay Head
Further to the west toward Gay Head, you can run the line in 60 to 80-feet of water and look for gulls either working or sitting on the water. If you see this, you want to investigate with your fish finder to see if you’re marking any schools of herring and, consequently, schools of stiped bass chasing those herring. The best startegy here is to drift with the tide and work vertical jigs; fast and slow. I recommend fishing with both metals and soft baits here. I fish the metals fast and the softbaits slow. For metals, I like the 3.5oz and 4.5oz Hogy Herring Jig in natural colors. For softbaits, I go with the heavy 9” 5oz Hogy Protail Eel. White Glow is a safe bet. Sometimes sand eels will blow through here, so having an olive version on board will up your odds.
Below are two examples of the jigging methods that I use when jigging for stripers off Martha’s Vineyard.
When I am fast jigging, I let the reeling motion do most of the work but the circular motions of the rod associated with reeling add action too. Pay attention to where you see the fish on the finder. Stay within the range you are marking them. If you are marking them all over the water column, simply work the full spectrum.
There are times when you might mark stripers but have difficultly getting them to bite. I find this often happens when there is too much bait in the water, the water is too cold or the wind direction changes. In any of these three cases, you’ll want to position a lure right in a stripers strike zone for extended periods in order to draw a reaction strike. Softbaits are ideal for this as they have really good action and slow to no speed at all, allowing you to effectively fish the same one or two feet of the water column and still maintain life-like lure action.
If you made it this far and still haven’t found active fish, your next step is to the backside of Squibnocket. Early May might be a little early for Squibby but sometimes fish show up here early when they go to the east side of the Cuddyhunk. By late May, you’re in the zone. There is a herring run nearby which can hold early-season large fish. Squiby is a large, wide area with a lot of boulders.
If stripers are clustering up, I’ll troll a 4oz or 5oz Hogy Pro Tail Paddles on lead core in 20 to 30 feet of water. In this area, just south of squibby, there are a series of rock piles and mussel beds that hold fish. Hitting these rock piles will resemble a classic trolling recon pattern.
When I mark fish, I take the boat out of gear and let the lure sink to the bottom before putting the boat back in gear often times this is when you’ll get hit as the bait emerges from the bottom.
If fish are scattered, I will troll large Hogy Bait Ball Umbrella rigs, giving our trolling pattern a bigger target for the stripers to key in on.
8. The Holes
Quicks, Robinsons and Woods Hole are great spots to key in on early season stripers. Bait gets trapped in the holes and make for easy ambush. Baitfish in these areas can range from butterfish to sand eels, you’ll you’ll want to have an aserenal ready.
When casting, you’ll want to key in on structure. Some boats will anchor, like in this diagram, and work a particular spot
But I prefer stemming the side and swinging softbaits over the turbulence. At slower stages of the tide, I’ll focus on using unweighted Hogy Originals in pink, bone and amber. By drifting and stemming the tide and keeping my engine in gear, I can more easily pop around from structure to structure.
The below video, accompanied with the diagram, will show you exactly what I mean and how I like to perform this method.
Trolling the holes is a very effective method, too. My go-to lures for this area in May are the 4oz or 5oz Hogy Pro Tails or Bait Ball Brella Rigs fished with the tide. Ideally, the lighter stages of the tide are best on the troll. The tide honks through all three Holes and makes trolling tough. For this reason, when the tide starts cooking, I always troll with the tide. In heavy current, it is unnatural for baitfish to swim against the current. A baitfish is far more likely to swim with the strong current. I’ll troll right down the middle of the channel but I am very deliberate in my timing. I will not troll in peak traffic times and will always defer to a motoring vessel, even if it means losing a big fish.
If I mark fish, I’ll take the boat out of gear to drop the lures in front of the fish. The hits often come just when the boat is put back in gear.