Livelining Mackerel on Cape Cod for Big Striped Bass

By Captain Ryan Collins

Uncovering quality stripers during spring on Cape Cod is different from locating large stripers in the heat of the summer. Estuaries and the beachfront typically produce more large striped bass in May and June than during the summer months. At the beginning of the season, finding big striped bass in 25 feet of water is usually more common than locating big bass in 60 feet.

By far the most fun way to live-line mackerel is with light tackle. I will pick light tackle spinning setups when we locate fish in areas with little or no current. Simply pitch the mack into the water and allow the bait to do the work. Watching a mackerel get chased on the surface by a thirty pound striper is a sight not soon forgotten.

Often during the spring, stripers will hold tight to the bottom in areas with current. Harbor channels, estuaries and creeks are all spots in which bass will hold. In these instances, fishing macks utilizing a three-way rig makes the most sense.

When drifting with the current, it is very important to use a weight heavy enough to maintain the line nearly vertical. Conventional rods and reels perform this task much better than spinning setups. When a striped bass hits, fight the urge to immediately set the hook. Instead, drop the rod tip, wait for the line to become tight and then set the hook.

Early on in the spring, the first schoolie bass start filtering into Buzzards Bay and Nantucket and Vineyard Sound. Close behind these smaller fish are the large stripers that many of us dream about all winter.

One of the most effective and adrenaline pumping methods to catch these cows on Cape Cod will be live-lining mackerel. For the fishermen it is a chance to watch predation in action. Remarkable surface action ensues when bass are focused on macks.

As always there will be big stripers caught by fishermen utilizing the spring mackerel run. However, the large schools of mackerel will be more difficult to locate once late June rolls around.

I hope you are able to take full advantage of this fishery on Cape Cod, and take part in on some of the exciting spring time fishing this productive peninsula has to offer.

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