Cape Cod

Pro Talk: Fishing Mackerel Schools for Cape Cod Bay Stripers

Pro Talk: Fishing Mackerel Schools for Cape Cod Bay Stripers

We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Terry Nugent to discuss the best ways to fish mackerel schools for striped bass in Cape Cod Bay. Here's what we learned.. 

Capt. Terry Nugent

Location: Cape Cod Bay, MA

Tides: Either end of the tide works for this technique. It’s more important to locate birds and mackerel schools to find feeding fish.

Approach: The ability to be successful at this technique is driven by your ability to locate flocks of gannets feeding on the mackerel schools. In it’s simplest form, scanning the horizon for diving birds will work, but is largely inefficient. Capt. Terry likes to utilize Raymarine’s Radar technology to locate birds at great distances. Using this technology Capt. Terry can locate feeding gannets several miles away.  I was told that individual gannets can easily been seen on a properly tuned radar. It’s best to start looking for these schools in 15′ – 70′ of water. The mackerel will be moving very quickly searching for schools of tiny sand eels and rain bait. After a school of mackerel is located, large unweighted soft baits are used to catch stripers feeding on the surface.

Rigging Selection: For a dynamite surface retrieve the 10/0 Unweighted Barbarian Swim Bait Hook.

Bait Selection: The Hogy 7inch Original and 10inch Original

Why This Bait? The large profile and extra weight of this bait allow for long distance casting and give the stripers a large target hone in on.

Colors: Dark Sand Eel. The contrast of a dark olive back and opalescent belly are near perfect imitators of mackerel.

Retrieve: A very fast retrieve is necessary to get the stripers fired up. When casting baits into a “bait ball blitz” you’ll need to make quite a bit of commotion to get noticed. Large baits help and a very fast, twitching retrieve will cause the Hogy to dance across the surface. It’s common to have half a dozen fish chase down your bait, so if you miss a hookup, don’t slow down. Keep the fast twitches going all the way back to the boat; odds are, you’ll have another hookup.


Rod: Medium-Fast  action 7′ 2″ Shimano Terez Waxwing Rod.

Reel:  Shimano Saragosa 6000

Line: 30lb Suffix 832 Braid

Leader: 30lb Mono tied to braid using uni to uni knot. Use a loop knot from leader to lure.

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