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How to find Early Season Striped Bass

  • 3 min read

How to find Early Season Striped Bass

It’s official, the Stripers are starting to pour into the New England waters many of us know and love. These first few weeks of the season can be tough; everyone wants to get their first Bass of the year, but there still aren’t that many fish around. Because of this, you have to filter your searching down to just your best spots. Not all spots are created equally; your favorite areas throughout the season may not be the best to check for the first fish of the year. To help narrow down your search, here are a few things to look out for in your hunt for those early-season Stripers.
For those who don’t know, every spring Striped Bass migrate up the east coast from theirsouthern waters of Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware River, etc. This means for us NewEnglanders that the Bass show up from the South, so south-facing locations theoretically will receive fish earlier. From my experience, this theory tends to be true. As someone on Cape Cod Ilike to look for early season Bass in Buzzards Bay and parts of Vineyard Sound (both on thesouth side of the Cape. To keep the Cape Cod reference going, a place like Buzzards Bay willget the first Stripers before the more northern waters of Cape Cod Bay; that's just the nature ofmigratory fish.
One of the most important factors that influences the Striped Bass migration is watertemperature. If you ask local anglers, most will agree that the magic number is around 50°F forthe first Schoolies to show up. Because temperature is so important, it is wise to focus yourattention on the spots that would warm up the fastest. Shallower backwaters are key earlyseason spots to look, especially spots with darker, muddier bottoms. This is the perfectcombination to heat up quickly because the of exposure to sun and air temperature. Just like theblack paint on a car or dark asphalt on a road, the darker mud absorbs the heat from sunlightmuch better than light sand or gravel. This makes backwaters a prime spot to target earlyseason Bass, and just a prime spot in general.
The last key tip I can give for targeting those first Stripers is to focus on pinch points with depthand/or structure. My favorite spot for spring Bass, and where I often catch my first fish of theyear is a cut at the head of a harbor where one muddy backwater funnelsdown through a deeppinch point (or cut) into a larger muddy-bottomed harbor. You want to find a place where fishcan stack up and hold in; this will give yourself a better shot at finding fish with confidence andhelp avoid just taking shots in the dark while fishing something like an open beach. Narrow cutslike this make it clear where a fish would be, right in the juice; so on those typical spring dayswith nasty weather you don’t have to rely on sight, or hundreds of casts to locate fish.
Hopefully these tips help you find some fish this spring. With any tip or trick for every type offishing, the most important piece of advice one could give is to fish with confidence. Tie on a flythat you know is fishy (a Clouser is always a good start), and focusmore on your presentation  instead of worrying about your fly choice. Now seriously, the Bass are right around the corner, GO!

Written by Nate Holmes

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