The author with a 20-pound bass taken from a shallow rock pile. Photo/New England Boating

Earlier this week, while much of the Massachusetts striper-fishing world was focused on the phenomenal action occurring off the tip of Cape Cod, I chose to stick to my late-spring game plan of plugging the inshore rock piles in my own backyard. While the fish weren’t plentiful, my efforts paid off with a 2o-pounder (see photo), taken on a Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow in 5’ of water.

This is my favorite type of striper fishing and favorite time of year, when bass up to 30 pounds can be taken on light tackle by fishing topwater plugs, flies and soft-plastics around structure in 3’ to 10’ of water. The action can occur at any time of day, although tide and wind can be major factors to success. For example, I like to fish the last 3 hours of the rising tide, when the fish move out of the deeper areas to patrol the shallows in search of squid, crabs, and small baitfish. At this time of year, you can often see the fish cruising around as you drift over them in clear water.

While everyone appreciates a calm day for fishing shallow rocky structure, I’ve found that a stiff southwest wind tends to get the fish stirred up and feeding with abandon. To keep my boat from drifting into trouble, I use an electric trolling motor. You don’t see a lot of trolling motors in the Northeast—perhaps because bay boats aren’t that popular—but I can’t say enough about them, especially when fishing solo.

Top lures? The aforementioned Jumpin’ Minnow (with the middle hook removed and the rear hook upgraded to an x-strong VMC model) is always a good choice, as is the Zara Spook, the small Cordell Pencil Popper, and any number of soft-plastic baits such as Hogys, Slug-Gos, FinSFish and Got Strypers. I find that pearl and bubblegum colors produce the most strikes.

You can find some more advice on fishing rock piles via the link below. But don’t wait to try it: The bigger fish don’t hang around very long, especially as the water temps start to climb in mid-June. The best fishing is right now!

CLICK HERE to check out our story on Fishing a Beach: Rockpiles,

Stripers and bluefish will gravitate to any type of isolated rocky structure in shallow water. Illustration by Tom Richardson


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