Summer Notes: The dog days of summer are what separate the weekend warriors from the anglers when targeting stripers on artificials. You’ll likely need to fish uncomfortably early or late hours from shore or top water casting from a boat. If fish have migrated out of your area, you’ll want to focus on structure and stripers feeding on forage. The good news is that many huge stripers are caught at night during the dog days of summer.
Shore: Deep night, sunrise and sunset are your best bets.
Estuaries and Flats: Many schoolies will stick around each estuary for the summer. You’ll want to focus on the smallest Hogy Epoxy Jigs® in your collection on ultra light leader. You won’t crush fish but will likely catch a few small schoolies, maybe a few bluefish mixed in.
Boulder Fields and Open Beach: Nighttime is best, the darker the better. Focus on a high dropping tide. Fish unweighted softbaits in close to imitate a live eel. Fish it fast to create commotion and draw a reaction strike. On calm nights, rotate through your collection of swimming plugs, poppers and Dog Walkers.
Canals and Inlets: Moving water is good in the summer. Here on Cape Cod, many big fish are caught in the canal in July and August.
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: Unfortunately, nighttime is best for casting in the summer, often in hairy places where you would like to be able to see. In the summer, if I am not nighttime casting on a small center console, I focus my boating game on trolling and vertical jigging, often over schools of sand eels in deeper, cooler water. 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.
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 that produced a 64lb striper in 145 of water a couple of springs ago. I’ll fish the paddles at all speeds and levels in the water column until I crack the code.
Top Water Sand Eels: Sometimes the stripers will push up sand eels or other small bait early in the morning. In this situation, I would twitch a 6” Hogy Sand Eel or 7” Hogy Original rigged on a 6/0 Unweighted Swimbait Hook in bone on the top.
Deep Water Sand Eels: Slow is the name of the game in the summer. I am patient with the drop of a 7.5” HD Olive or Bone Hogy Pro Tail Eel and slow jig it at depths where I am marking fish. If you’re in deeper water or moving current, fish the dancing diamond jig the same way. 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 fish 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 and a lot of twitches.
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 the baits 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 a far.
Trolling Shore Lines: Summertime is tube and worm time. In fact, I would say that over 65-percent of the summer trolling I do for stripers is with the tube and worm. I take a very tactical approach. Even though I troll with lead core, I am constantly in and out of gear to let the tube sink slowly to the bottom before putting the boat back in gear so that it emerges. The Hogy Perfect Tube has a uniformly weighted core for a natural drop. You’ll want to troll the tube and worm in rocky areas, preferably near a drop-off. I will work contour lines and play around with depths. Oftentimes, stripers are holding at specific depths.