Spring Notes: To me, full spring mode happens with the first keepers start popping up all over social media. Big bass are on big baits like herring, mackerel, squid, and pogies, with the exception of warm hatches going on in the back bays. It’s a shame that many spring sports are at a peak when the best striper fishing goes off and many summer anglers don’t catch enough of the spring bite, the best striper time of the year. There is action for the boater and shore angler alike. While the early morning and evening hours are best, bites can last all day on overcast or rainy days and sometimes on the blue sky days, too. Top-water action is at its best, but all methods and techniques will work. It's go-time.
Shore: Sunrise and sunset are your best bets, but as I mentioned above, the bite can last all day in rainy or overcast weather. If you are a shore angler in New England, you’ll want to prioritize May and June.
Boulder fields: You’ll want to be ready to fish structure like boulders with lightly weighted soft baits that mimic eels and wounded Herring. You’ll want a line-up of plugs to make some surface noise. I like plugs to make some noise in greasy calm conditions.
Herring Runs: You’ll want weighted paddles, like our Hogy Pro Tail Paddle and Eels. These will allow you to cover some ground in open water and they’re great to work around herring runs and hard-to-reach structures. The 6.5” size and profile perfectly mimics a herring. A Hogy Charter Grade Popper or Dog Walker is a great play in calm water conditions. A 2oz Hogy Epoxy Jig® will get you more casting distance and is a better option in heavy wind. Slowly twitched silver 7.5" HD Hogy Pro Tail Eel in the area can imitate a wounded herring that has lost its way.
Estuaries and flats: Estuaries are still hot and heavy this time of year with some surprisingly big stripers mixed in, especially on those bays with Herring runs. A simple 2oz Hogy Epoxy Jig® will allow for the most retrieve options and great distance in the wind. A lightly rigged Hogy Original 7” on a 6/0 Swimbait Hook is a good finesse bait and ideal for very shallow areas.
Canals and Inlets: Heavier versions of the Hogy Pro Tail Paddle are ideal for fishing the swing while fishing heavy currents in inlets or canals; the Cape Cod Canal being the most extreme.
Open Beach: A handful of 2 to 3.5oz metals like our imitative Sand Eel Jigs will get you some serious distance to reach far away breaking fish on an open beach. Fish the Sand Eel Jig fast. A slower option, and a deadly one, is to retrieve the Hogy Dancing Diamond Jig slowly. The tail is highly imitative but is very soft and may need to be replaced after each fish. But needless to say, it’s worth it if fish are slow to strike. A 6” Sand Eel on a dropper loop is an effective way to tease finicky fish. A 7.5” Hogy Pro Tail Eel Bone twitch jig retrieved along the bottom can pick up bottom grubbing fish.
Jetties: I like to rotate between 5.5” Hogy Pro Tail Paddles and our top water plugs and fan cast the jetties. High tide while dropping is best.
Boat: Everything is going on this time of year. So much so, I don’t really consider trolling as an option in the spring because there are so many more interactive and lighter tackle options available that will go away in the summer. To simplify, I think of early morning hours as top-water time and high daylight times as a deep-water game, with the exception of shallow rips filled with squid. I’ll list my go to scenarios.
Estuaries and Flats: Stripers in shallow water are great fun to site cast to. A Hogy Original on a 6/0 Swimbait Hook is the perfect finesse bait. Be sure to lead the fish, don’t drop the lure on the striper’s head. Be sure to cast ahead of the fish and bring the bait into the striper’s range. In a little deeper water, blind casting with the Hogy Epoxy Jig® in 1.25oz in silver, pink or olive will produce.
Open Water Herring or Mackerel: In greasy calm conditions, I will fish noisy poppers and dog walkers to call in the fish. In heavier winds, I will likely use a weighted paddle tail soft bait like our Hogy Pro Tail Paddle that produced a 64lb striper a couple of springs ago. I’ll fish the paddles at all speeds and levels in the water column until I crack the code.
Squid in the Rips: It’s really hard to beat an unweighted 10” Hogy Original in pink, white and amber on a Swimbait Hook. Stem the tide by holding the boat in gear about 100’ in front of the rip. Cast perpendicular to the boat and twitch the bait as it swings into the rip. The unweighted soft bait will dance and skitter, provoking some of the most amazing hits you’ll witness from a striper. A Pink 7.5” HD Hogy Pro Tail Eel can get under the smaller, more aggressive fish and produce bigger and slower moving bass.
Top Water Sand Eels: A slow-moving, lightly weighted soft bait, periodically twitched on the retrieve, is deadly. Allow the bait to drop on an extended pause periodically, maybe 10 seconds or so. Letting an Olive 7.5” Hogy Pro Tail Eel slowly fall around the parameter of pushing sand eels can produce bigger fish.
Deep Water Sand Eels: I find this happens a lot midday in bright light and deeper water. A highly imitative 2.5oz or 3.5oz Hogy Sand Eel Jig dropped on their heads and twitched tantalizingly will draw a strike. If this doesn’t work, fish it fast. If you are clearly marking stripers that won’t eat, dead stick a Hogy Dancing Diamond Sand Eel Jig in their face.
Deep Water Herring and Mackerel: I’ll fish the 3oz Hogy Pro Tail Paddle in silver, bone and green the same way I fished the Hogy Sand Eel Jig above.
Fish Around Structure: Big bass will be cruising around feeding on a diet of migrating baitfish and local forage. Moving water is often the best time to catch structures but many sharpies know that slack high tide is a secret window into the best opportunity to a huge fish. Here, you’ll want to be casting 5.5” Hogy Pro Tails on a slow retrieve, a popper fished with long pauses, a slow-moving walk the dog or an unweighted soft bait with an ultra-slow retrieve with a lot of twitches.
Trolling Rips on Light Tackle: Rip fishing is deadly on the troll when an S-Pattern is properly executed in front of the rip. In shallow rips, an unweighted 10” Hogy Original Soft Bait rigged with a 10/0 Unweighted Swimbait Hook fished on lead core is deadly when paired with a jiggin’ troll jigging action. The advantage of the softbait is that it has a super lifelike action, stays relatively shallow and is weed resistant. Pink and bone are the top colors. In cleaner water, perhaps where stripers are keyed in on herring and sand eels, this technique works well with the Hogy Perfect Squid in pink, bone or olive respectively.
Trolling Deep Open Water on Light Tackle: A simple way to target scattered fish you are periodically marking on your fish finder is to pull two Hogy Pro Tails on braid or lead core line. If you mark fish, take the bait out of water and drop them on the targets. I’ll troll silver and green paddles when fish are keyed in on herring and mackerel and olive Eel Tails when they are keyed in on sand eels. If you are not seeing targets, but you know they are in the area, the Hogy Bait Ball Brella is the way to go. Although it looks massive with all the squids hanging from it, the frame has a very small profile, minimal drag and is lightweight. The dense pod of bait that this rig simulates will bring in fish from afar.
Trolling Shore Lines: In the spring, I prefer to troll the Hogy Pro Tail Paddles along the as there is a lot of herring in my area.