Top 10 Spots for Big Stripers, Part I

Big bass, like the one displayed here by Mike Ciolek and Capt. Terry Nugent, are the goal of most every inshore angler. You can hedge your bets of catching one by fishing the hot spots listed in this article. Photo by ## Tom Richardson##

Looking for big bass? Who isn’t? That’s why we decided to compile a list of the best spots on the New England coast to land a lunker. By this we mean a fish over 25 pounds—not necessarily monster size, but big enough to boast about at the dock or provide dinner for family and friends. We hasten to add that the hot spots below are not listed in any particular order; they all produce big fish. We’ll run the first 5 spots this week, and finish the list next Friday.

Number One:

Merrimack River, MA: The mouth of the Merrimack River has always been a big-bass producer, and this year has been no exception. A 62-pounder was weighed in recently at Surfland Bait & Tackle on Plum Island, and several fish in the 40- and 50-pound range have also been taken in the river. Nighttime is the right time here, as most of the big fish are taken on live eels after dark. Obviously, you need to know what you’re doing to fish these often busy and turbulent waters at night, or even during the day, so caution is advised. Daytime anglers can score here as well with live mackerel or fresh chunks fished on the bottom.

Number Two

Boston Harbor, MA: Boston Harbor is a big place, and it contains numerous spots that hold stripers throughout the season. Action can be spotty some years, but this season we have it on good authority that the harbor has given up several fish over 50 pounds to anglers fishing mostly at night and using live eels. Some proven spots to focus on include the channel off Deer Island, Hull Gut, The Narrows (between Gallops and Lovell Islands), Kelly Rock, Nash Rock Shoal, and Shag Rocks. These areas also produce some nice fish during the day for anglers trolling tube-and-worm combos or fishing chunk baits. The outgoing tide is generally favored.

Number Three

Provincetown, MA: The waters off the tip of Cape Cod, from the Race around the “backside” to the so-called Golf Balls, produced off-the-charts fishing for big bass this year, thanks in large part to an abundance of sand eels. Peak action lasted well into July, and many of the fish were caught on light tackle and topwater plugs. Best of all, the action often continued throughout the day, as long as the tide was moving. Find some working birds and you were in business. If the fish went deep, sending down a diamond jig or soft-plastic on a leadhead jig would continue to score. The fish ranged in size from 15 pounds up to 35 pounds, with the occasional trophy to keep things interesting.

Number 4

Block Island, RI: The fabled waters surrounding Block Island need no introduction as a big-bass spot. The island has given up more 60-pound fish in the last 10 years than any other location on the coast (unless someone is being awfully tight-lipped). While virtually the entire island can hold fish, the south side tends to give up the biggest stripers. Trollers and eelers do well on Southwest Ledge from June well into November. The North Reef also produces well, particularly in June. Trolling parachute jigs and tube lures on wire line is a proven technique during the day, with live eels being the bait of choice after dark.

Number 5

Watch Hill, RI: The Watch Hill Reefs, which run between Fishers Island, New York, and Watch Hill, Rhode Island, can be a challenging and even dangerous place to fish, especially at night, but the great structure and strong currents make it a striper paradise. Big topwater plugs fished in the ripline can take large bass in June, when squid are abundant, while trolling tube lures and parachute jigs on wire can produce when the fish are hanging deep. Chunk baits and live eels at night have also produced some trophies here for the pros who know these waters.