Spring Fishing in Buzzard’s Bay
Lat & Long (flats area): 41°42.5’ x 70°38.5’
Best tide: Incoming in the spring (east); outgoing in the summer and fall (west).
Hazards: Few but heavy boat traffic in adjacent Cape Cod Canal channel. Large, standing waves in the channel when strong west tide is against prevailing southwest wind.
Link to tide chart: Click Here
Link to marine weather: Click Here
Introduction by Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters:
During the spring migration the stripers don’t hang around for long in any one spot. They are on the move and even great structure or large amounts of bait are not likely to keep them in one place for long. When I find fish in the same spots from day to day. The fish that move up north have 2 choices, they can either go around the Cape or cut through the Cape Cod Canal. The fish that move through Buzzards Bay and subsequently the canal have to pass through several very narrow areas. These “choke points” concentrate the large mass of fish into a very small area. I like the odds of getting them at choke points rather than fishing the open expanse of the “south side”. That makes fishing for them almost like shooting fish in a barrel if you time it right.
The fish are migrating a long way and they are trying to save energy. When the tide is running east towards the canal, the fish, even when feeding will be on the move. They “ride” the tide and current. You will have to chase these pods of fish up to 5-6 miles on a tide under these conditions. When the tide turns west they feed in an almost stationary location. That’s when it gets really good. The fish won’t swim against the tide any more than they have too. So they put the feed bag on and stay in one spot until the current and tide turns to carry them father on their migration. The western shore of Buzzards Bay typically warms up faster than the eastern shore of the bay and typically holds more bait. However if the winds starts to blow from any direction with “west” in it, the bait will quickly get pushed over to the eastern shore for the duration of the blow and the fish will follow.
In mid-April the bay loads up with tons of very small bait and a bunch of scattered birds. But seemingly no fish. Then when the water temps in the bay get around 53 degrees the fish will start to push into the area. When the first pods of migrating fish enter the bay it’s just a matter of time before they find all the bait and they feed like crazy. You can expect to have solid action from these fish for a day or two. These first “scouts” seem to be bigger than one might expect for early season fish. I find the first fish are generally in the 30 inch and up range. Then following that initial push the next few days the bay will be dead. There always seems to be a couple days gap between the first big push of fish and the rest of the schools moving north. Once the main body of fish come into the area a near daily push of new fish through the bay will keep things hopping. These fish will start off as small fish in the 18-20” range and as each day goes by the size classes of fish will increase.
The gear for these early season fish is very simple and straight forward. Since the majority of the fish are under 20# I prefer to use light spinning gear in the 10-12# range. This lighter gear provides great sport and will let you toss the small lures needed to match the tiny bait that is so prevalent at this time of year. A short 20# fluorocarbon leader will add chafe protection and an added level of stealth in the cold clear early season water. Small rubber baits are what we tend to use early on. Although the fish can often be seen feeding on the surface until the water temps rise up into the low 60’s, I find that top water plugs just don’t get the attention that a lure presented a few feet down will get. When working your lure keep your retrieve moderate to slow since the water is cold and adjust slightly based on the fish’s reaction.
When the bay fills up with multiple schools of fish there will often be several size classes in the same general area. They may be near each other but they will generally not school together. I try to locate the schools of larger fish and focus on them. One of the way to do that is to leave fish to find fish. We do this allot. If we are on a huge school of fish but they are all 18″-24″ after we have caught “enough” to satisfy the boat, we leave them biting and try to find bigger fish.
Hogy’s Best Bet: Often the first stripers to arrive in Buzzard’s Bay are not the biggest we see all season. So for that reason, we recommend small to medium sized soft baits.Our number one selling zie and color for this fishers is the 7″ Original in Bone and Amber, rigged with the 6/0 Barbarian Swim-bait Hook