Tournament Winning Techniques for NEKF Striped Bass

Posted by Capt. Ross Gallagher on

15 Minutes with New England Kayak Angler Carl Vonnegut

What we learned…

Location:  New England Kayak Fishing Mass Bay Striper Shootout, Boston Harbor

Approach:  This was the 10th year for the annual NEKF Mass Bay Striper Shootout, one of the biggest kayak fishing tournaments in the Northeast.  I was entered in the artificial-only division and I stuck with plastic baits the whole time.  I fished primarily at night, and focused on areas with rocky structure and current.  I like to drift and cast in likely holding areas, and then troll as I move from spot to spot.

Rigging Selection: Hogy 14″ Original Series  (we also suggest the 13″ Jigging Series)rigged on 1/2oz or 3/4oz Barbarian Jig Heads (size 10/0).  Besides using superglue to secure the body to the jighead, I also glue the rigging channel closed for a more durable connection.  I use a heavy duty backlash-style snap for the jighead-to-leader connection.  This “hinged” connection gives the bait more action when pausing or twitching.

Why this bait? The 14″ baits have that great serpentine action and are very versatile.  I also use the 13″ jigging baits.

Colors: Black/Pearl, Blamber.


Retrieve: Moderate swimming retrieve with an occasional pause or twitch.  Fishing in 10-15′ of water,  I typically start off trying to keep the bait in the lower half of the water column.   I had a couple fish follow the bait right to the kayak and try to hit it just as it was coming out of the water.  After seeing this, I picked up the pace of the retrieve a bit and it seemed to trigger the bite better.

Gear Used

Rod: 8’2″ Phenix M1 Inshore SMX82H.  I really like this line of west-coast style inshore rods.  Designed for casting swimbaits, they are lighter in weight than most musky rods but still have a lot of lifting power.  The longer length helps me reach around the bow of my 16′ kayak.

Reel:  Shimano Calcutta 400D

Line: PowerPro 40lb

Leader: 7′ length of 50lb mono

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