With Independence Day weekend knocking at our doorstep, it’s that time for truly serious striped bass anglers to transition into fishing at night. The weather’s getting hotter, the fish are starting to settle into their summer time haunts, and the bite is best, without a doubt, at night.
Fishing Cape Cod from shore during July and August is usually tough. The greater part of the striped bass population will likely to be holding in deeper water only accessible by boats. Things can get frustrating at times. However showing up in the right spots after dark will greatly improve your odds of tying into one of the Cape’s summer time cow striped bass.
Hitting the following hotspots, at night, will offer you a high probability at hooking up with a nice striped bass.
The Cape Cod Canal
Some of the best and most consistent canal fishing happens during early July. This ribbon of water may look devoid of life during daylight, however don’t let yourself be fooled-things get rolling as soon as the sun sets.
Pip’s Rip at the canal’s east end may be the most dependable producer of large bass during early July. Pip’s Rip is also one of the most striking and impressive rips inside of the entire canal. The rip rises dramatically from the bottom, then falls into a gulley. The backend of the rip then rises dramatically from the bottom again, creating two distinct valleys that will hold big bass if the current is flowing.
Big bass settle down into the rip like clockwork during this time of the season. The bass will hold on each tide, as long as the current is moving. Hitting the rip from shore can be difficult sometimes. The best opportunity for the shorebound angler happens on an incoming tide, when the current is running east.
The rest of the canal is littered with rips, gulleys, pockets and valleys that all hold fish. The challenging part is figuring out exactly where they are and what tides produce best at each locale.
If you are a canal newbie, stroll the canal during the day when the current is really cranking. Bring along a pad and pencil and be aware of the pole numbers that coincide with rip water on the surface of the canal. Return back during nighttime and fan cast the area with a heavy jig, maintaining track of how much time it takes the jig to hit bottom.
When you come across a gulley, you will find that it takes considerably longer for your jig to reach bottom. For instance, one of my favorite canal jigging areas includes an enormous hole, enclosed on both sides by impressive rock peaks. It will only take my four ounce jig 7 seconds to reach the top of the rock peaks, however it takes 15 seconds for it to reach the bottom of the valley.
Sandy Neck Beach
There are a lot of fantastic perks for anglers fishing Sandy Neck. The area is stunning, and it’s one of the few shorelines left on Cape Cod where it is acceptable to drive on the sand.
The fishing can be downright impressive too. The good news is for Sandy Neck anglers, there exists a substantial population of stripers sitting just off the beach in areas like the “Parking Lot” and the “Fingers.” The schools offshore can, at times, be very large.
It is a real treat for shorebound anglers when these bass move in close to the beachfront. This often occurs during late August and September, nevertheless it does, every so often, occur in July.
I remember being in only 7 feet of h2o last summer off Sandy Neck, casting eels from the Miss Loretta. We could hardly have been more than 50 yards off the beach. There were massive amounts of stripers slurping down our eels through the night. It would have been an unbelievable night of surfcasting, had there been anyone fishing from the beach.
Scorton Creek flows directly into Cape Cod Bay, just to the west of Sandy Neck. The creek itself is an impressive ecosystem. Its upper reaches sometimes hold schoolie bass throughout the wintertime.
Just offshore of the creek sits Scorton Ledge, which is, at its essence, a muddy, boulder laden underwater hump. At specific times throughout the summer, the Ledge holds significant numbers of big striped bass. In darkness these fish will frequently venture within casting range of anglers fishing East Sandwich beach and Scorton Creek.
I have found the outgoing tide at Scorton Creek to be the most effective. Throwing a live eel, or piece of bait into the creek, and allowing it to catch a free ride offshore is a productive way to fish a bait. There are a handful of holes and gulleys at the mouth of the creek that bass flock to.
The most significant consideration when fishing the creek at night is safety. A powerful current, combined with darkness and hidden drop-offs can be very dangerous. Taking extra precaution when angling in the area is an absolute priority.
No striped bass is ever worth risking your life.
Tight lines, best of luck and don’t forget your headlamp!