The day always comes in one way or another. Either you get tired of hooking schoolie stripedbass, to the point of being annoyed with them, or else you tire of sitting around the beach or boat with chunks on the bottom and nothing to show for it.
There’s always that classic choice, especially in Massachusetts with its 28″ minimuon on striped bass. Fish for schoolie striped bass and you can catch them on a grand scale, maiming in one day as many as you like.
Limit yourself to fishing only for keeper-sized striped bass and you may spend many, many hours waiting for a Massachusetts-legal keeper to take your hook.
Either way, spend too much time fishing one way or the other and you run the risk of getting jaded. Once your striped bass fishing pattern is in full bloom — steady and a little humdrum, predictable perhaps — that’s the time to break away from your old habits and try an approach you haven’t explored before. Are you a schoolie-hound who prefers topwater lures, and is always on the prowl for birds?
Try a different approach. Buy a boat-rod and some lead-core and try a tube-and-worm in deeper areas where larger striped bass hold. Tired of getting sunburned in the boat with a hunk of bait on the bottom? Buy yourself a spincast rod and head to some flats areas where schoolies cavort. Make the switch.
Here’s where the action often is in the summer in the keeper striped bass department: Deveroux Beach in Marblehead, from Little Pig Rocks to Ram Island to the Big Pigs. Fat keepers up to 40″ are often pried off the structures around Ram Island and the Pigs by anglers using whole dead herring or live eels flung into the swell-wash around the island and sunk or weighted near the bottom.
In the area directly off the beach, light-tackle enthusiasts find it productive to catch mackerel on little diamond jigs, drop them in a bucket, switch gear, and live-line tinkers 10-20 feet down to tempt the striped bass who made the mackerel rise to the surface. There’s no bait more natural than live bait; anglers in tin skiffs in the area can pull up a lot of legal-sized striped bass in the area.
Seems to me an act of fairness to let a bass keep your bait after you lip him off. Give him a snack. Tit for tat. If you’re working with live tinker mackerel, try a balloon to keep the mackerel at the depth you think the bass are at. This means a fishfinder on the console somewhere. The trade-off is the mackerel won’t live as long, at which point it becomes a chunk.
Keywords for this story are Massachusetts striped bass fishing, Marblehead fishing, kayak fishing, striper fishing, live bait fishing