Striped Bass Fishing on Cape Cod

Striped bass are the number one sportfish on the east coast. They deserve that title in many ways. And other fish deserve it more, but I’ll digress later. But lots of people LOVE fishing for striped bass and I’m going to talk about that . We have been seeing more and more stripers in April. They come in a few weeks after the herring arrive; just about when the small baits flood our waters (and pogies too). That makes for some fun spring fishing.

jigging for bass
Nice group photo of jigged striped bass

I love light tackle fishing. Period. I don’t like to troll on my boat for stripers. I love the idea of handing a rod to a customer and saying “they’re over there; cast to them.” Or, “drop a jig down and work it back to the boat” if we are in deeper water/rips. Finally, live bait can be a lot of fun as well.

A porbeagle shark took its share
we lost this striper to a porbeagle boatside

The staple of my striper fishing…if I were to whittle my lure selection down to three lures…1.5oz jig head with a 9″ sluggo. It’s all-purpose and can be worked on the surface or all the way down to 30′ really easily. Stripers will grab it, making for a good hookset with one, easy-to-remove hook. If the fish are deep, as they are often off of Chatham and Provincetown, number two is a simple diamond jig with an assist hook at the top of the lure. (or a single j-hook at the bottom of the jig if the blues are around.). Finally, in the bass are on the surface, nothing beats a 9″ bone-white Doc. I’ve gone to switching to two single hooks, but the explosions are legendary with that lure.

Perfect bendo pic
Fun fishing for Striped bass

In years past, there used to be a 2-fish limit per person and no “slot”…taking two 20+ pound fish per person made it somewhat of a meat fishery, or at least it attracted the guys who measured a trip’s success by poundage of fillets in the cooler. Don’t forget that back then we had a vibrant cod fishery (meat).. Then it went to one fish….Then it went to one fish with a 28-35″ slot…Now it’s at 28-31” slot and one fish.

Big striper
The slot limit sized fish aren’t what they used to be!

So now it’s a fun fishing fishery—there were tons of “slot” fish in our waters in 2023…Going home with a limit of cloned fish was simple. After the fish were in the cooler, pure fun ensued. With single hooks, releases were easy. I have low gunwhales when make releasing the fish really easy. If you have seen my boat, the bow of my boat is one of the most amazing places to fish. You’re elevated and can see really well into the water and work a lure perfectly. When it’s time to release the fish, you can easily walk it to me for the release.

44" striper on light tackle
This striper was almost 40# on this light rod

I don’t think we have been “outmatched” by a big striper yet. Even though we are using light tackle, the battles are quick. We find stripers early season in Buzzards Bay as they stage ahead of the herring run in the Cape Cod Canal and other tributaries. After that, we have done great off of Chatham, Dennis, Barnstable harbor, Plymouth Harbor, and Provincetown. Each area has different traits and expectations. We are seeing more and more seals on the striper grounds. They are good at taking the bass off of the line…And great whites are good at taking bass too (and seals). Crazy.

Nice Provincetown Bass
Amazing run of fish on cape cod

Is striped bass a good gamefish? Absolutely. And they taste good..But is bluefish a better game fish….Oh hell yeah. They jump and pound for pound they are so much stronger than a bass. And we see them in crazy numbers at times. And they are NOT timid around lures! But are they tasty? Ehhh, take a striper first…But if you smoke fish…SMOKE BLUEFISH! Or grill it fresh. Smoked fish is a gem and easy to make. (I’ll write another day on that; the season is still three months away). Frozen smoked bluefish is good for a year.. Plus, on a charter boat we can keep five blues per person.

bluefish never go to waste!
bluefish racks ready for the wood chipper

Well, I rambled a little’s winter and super windy out. I’ll be on the water fishing for stripers in April again! The season on Cape Cod is in full gear by mid-May. It’s so much fun to just feel like a kid again catching fish… If you want to join us, give me a call or text at 508-269-1882 or email at