We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Dave Peros to discuss using small baits for skinny water striped bass off the monomoy rips. Here's what we found out...
Capt. Dave Peros
Location: Monomoy Rips - Chatham, MA
Tides: Incoming and outgoing water are both very strong but surface activity picks up the most around full tide. As the tide slacks, the fish also become very active.
Approach: Even during the summer, the cold water in this area means you can catch fish in full daylight, although they can be a bit spooky. Stemming the tide and casting parallel to the rip line and letting the lure drift back into the second or third wave is often very productive, but you can also pick up fish just as the flat water turns into the rip. A dead drift, with no rod tip action, is also a deadly technique. But remember to keep the rod tip low, right at the water's surface and keep contact to the bait.
Bait Selection: The Hogy 7inch Original, Hogy 10inch Original and the Hogy 6inch Skinny. When the fish are holding deeper, using a small jig head has proven effective as well.The smaller baits are good imitations of squid and they also imitate sand eels, which the fish are feeding on more lately.
Rigging Selection: The Hogy 5/0 Swim Bait Hook has been effective with the smaller baits I have been using lately, while with the larger baits I go with the Larger Hogy Swim Bait Hooks.
Colors: Amber is definitely the top choice for me lately, but bone and bubblegum work well when the fish are on squid.
Retrieve: After casting parallel to the rip, let the current bring the bait into the white water, where a sharp twitch, not a long pull, and just enough reeling to pick up the slack is key. Sometimes no rod action works, but a controlled dead drift. You don’t want the lure to skip on the surface. If the fish are churning on the surface, drop the bait right on their head and hold on!
Rod: St. Croix Tidemaster Series; the slower action makes it easier for less experienced anglers to cast. Match the model to the weight of the bait you are using.
Reel: Shimano Sustain 5000 FE. The super smooth drag does a good job of handling the light line I use. These are no longer made by Shimano, but have been replaced by the Sustain 5000 FG, which is receiving good reviews as well.
Line: I use 14 and 17 pound test Silver Thread; I know a lot of folks use braid, but I change my line after a couple of trips because no matter how much you say it, excited fishermen reel against the drag. Also, the tendency to let loose line slip off the spool after the lure hits the water can create slack and hellacious wind knots in braid.
Leader: I blood knot 20 to 30 pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders to the main line and use an non-slip loop knot to attach the hook. Must be my fly fishing habits!