The rumors are true: Stripers have returned to our home waters in Massachusetts.
I’m certain this isn’t coming as news to many readers, but I thought it deserved some attention. Once water temps began to climb and bass were on the move, I started moving, too.
The first couple trips were skunks. Early season, you never really know what to expect. Bass are there or they aren’t. Reports lose relevancy in under 12 hours and conditions are rarely cooperative. But, we still fish.
Truthfully, I’ve been much lazier about keeping a log this year, but my first salt trips were challenging and low-yielding days. My first bass of the season came at the end of a rough day. Winds were blowing into us all day long at a steady rate of 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. My friend and I were struggling to fish these conditions on the Cape and decided to meet some other friends in Buzzards Bay. They were having a slow day as well but, at least, managed one bass despite the challenging conditions.
We were on the wrong side of the tide by the time we showed up, and our friends, Joe and Geoff, were packing it in after a long morning, but I was determined to catch. I kept double hauling my heart out into the wind in the hopes of connecting with a fresh schoolie, regardless of size.
I felt a bump on a two-hand retrieve, strip set like my life depended on it, and found a little more weight at the end of my rod than I had expected. Glad that Nick Jones was there to snap some pics for me, this felt like a pretty epic start to the season despite being the only fish we caught that day.
The following week, I had an opportunity to work remotely from my parents’ place on the Cape. My sister was in town visiting, so my wife was kind enough to sign my permission slip so that I could disappear to the Cape to spend some time with the folks. I wasn’t fooling anybody. I had some ulterior motives to fish, and I consider myself lucky that my folks are generally pretty understanding of my passions.
I selected my windows as best as I could. Had to spend time with family and couldn’t let work slip either. This meant I was mostly on the water early mornings and late evenings. Most of my time was spent on the Upper Cape, and as is to be expected of the spring run, whether I was catching fish or I was not. Early-season fishing like this can be very sporadic: You’re on them or you’re getting blanked.
On Saturday (May 4), I had the full day to take advantage of. I fished one of my favorite Upper Cape spots. If you know me, you already know where, but I won’t disclose too publicly. The bass were eating here and there, but there was no consistency to action. I pulled a couple schoolies and a shad that happened to be bigger than both of the bass.
The action, however, was too slow to justify staying there, so I packed it in to explore new water. I started driving toward Buzzards Bay, when Dan Wells called. He gave a report of a hot bite that happened to be on my way, although the bite had taken place the previous night.
I had some time to kill before the tides flipped in my favor in Buzzards Bay. I found myself on the wrong side of the tide again in Dan’s suggested spot, but you never know what you’re going to get striper fishing, so I decided to give it a whack anyway.
Walking down the beach, I stopped to chat with surf casters. Everyone was reporting slow and sporadic activity. I was determined nonetheless and found myself some decent looking beach features and began to blind cast to them.
All of a sudden I was tying into fish, odd because I didn’t see anyone else catching. I kept at it trying to make the most of the couple hours I’d allotted myself. I had brought seven bass to hand toward the end of my time. Decided after a few “last casts,” I’d pack it in and fish my way home.
On one of those casts, I felt a soft take and again strip set like my life depended on it. The fish on the other end of the line wasn’t your average schoolie. I wasn’t sure how big, but it was pulling line and I found myself having to adjust my drag accordingly. I walked the fish down the beach as I fought it, and asked a couple college-aged kids to snap a pic for me.
One more fish at Buzzards Bay concluded my fishing saga that week, and I drove home with a smile on my face, looking forward to spending some time at home.
You never know what you’re going to get when you are on the water. Maybe that’s what haunts us and gets us out the door at odd hours. If you’re enticed by saltwater fly fishing, go. There’s no better time than the present. Tides and conditions matter, but nothing is guaranteed one way or another, so forget the forecast and don’t miss your next opportunity to wet a line.