In July 2013, the New England Boating TV crew traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, where they met up with local anglers and boaters Gary Strempek and Lisa Carter for a morning of striper fishing just outside the harbor.
The bait du jour was live mackerel, and Strempek and Carter had filled the live well with these frisky baits. After short run to Tinkers Gut off Marblehead Neck, the live baits were deployed and slow-trolled in 9’ to 15’ of water close to shore. The action wasn’t long in coming.
As Strempek explains in the accompanying video, this type of fishing is very tide-dependent. The stripers feed best during the latter stages of the rising tide, moving in close to the rocks and ledges to pursue bait, so trips should be planned accordingly. Additionally, high water gives you greater margin for error in these decidedly “boney” waters.
Strempek rigs his baits on 8/0 circle hooks and 4’ of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader. The leader is connected to the 60-pound-test braided main line with a small swivel. Rods are stout, 7’ models with limber tips, while the reels are Shimano Thunnus models, which allow the bait to be trolled in free-spool so that the fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the mackerel.
The trick is to troll the baits at 1.5 knots or less along the rocky shoreline and over ledges until a school of bass is located. The baits should be checked frequently to see if they’ve picked up any weeds, which will ruin the presentation. If the baits look good and the bass are present, it usually doesn’t take long to draw a strike.
Watch the full Salem episode of New England Boating TV.