Trolling for Striped Bass in Open Water When There are Signs of Life
Open Water Example 1: Lot’s Of Signs
It’s an early summer situation on Cape Cod, with warmer water but still some activity. The striper fishing was hot and heavy here yesterday morning at 6:30 AM. I arrived at the same time. The wind direction is the same, but the wind is stronger and we have gone from a sunny day to an overcast one and it looks like it’s about to rain. I am marking bait on my fish finder at all depths, I also see slicks and very stubborn large gulls. There are a few targets that appear to be big stripers, but we have had no hook ups yet. The stripers were allegedly keyed in on mackerel yesterday and there are some sand eels in the area.
Order of Operations:
- Lure Selection: At this point I know this much: 1) There’s big bait in the form of mackerel 2) The fish are scattered. 3) The fish are at all levels of water column. 4) It’s overcast. // I have selected two Hogy Bait Ball umbrella rigs. I want big targets as the fish are scattered, hence the big bulb teasers. I am using light tackle so the low drag 8” frame is not s problem on my lighter gear. For colors, I will start with one green and one translucent amber, choosing colors that stand out on an overcast day.
- Work The Signs: I am going to pound the signs, eyes glued to the fish finder. I am going to work a big loop around the birds and slick, looking for clouds of bait on the finder. If I mark fish on the finder, I will take the boat out of gear to let the umbrella rigs drop. I will count to 20 seconds per 20’ with 150’ of lead core. I will surge the boat periodically after passing the fish to possibly trigger a strike response.
- Wind: It’s windier today. I will let out another 50’ of line to accommodate for wind pull. Though uncommon inshore, flat line clips will eliminate the need for extra line.
- Tide/Current: I am at the same tide as the hot bite yesterday. So I will assume I’m at the right tide and stage. I have found what direction you are trolling relative to the current is important. Sometimes stripers want it with the tide, others against it. I have best luck with the tide but many would swear on the opposite. Find what works for you.
- Light: We established today is darker than yesterday. I accommodated with the darker rig.
- Approach: We do not have a strong command for the ideal depth. To accommodate for this, we will make a series of turns. By making these turns, my inside rod will drop and the outside line will rise. After testing various trolling directions relative to the tide, making turns to raise and lower my lures; I’ll play around with boat speed. I will randomly take the boat out of gear and accelerate after putting the boat back in gear. Also, faster speeds let you cover more area.