Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Uncanny how much this striper stuff is like "our" bass fishing.......

This Martha's Vineyard is an awesome place, but the fishing at the moment is incredibly tough - and nobody really knows why. Autumn out here is traditionally a time when the striper and false albacore fishing is really in full swing, but for the last couple of years it has not really fired as well as it should - but late May, June and into July and everything we are hearing this period is about the fishing just rocking big time. Huge shoals of striped bass blitzing on bait for example. The locals are tearing their hair out at the moment with the lack of decent fish around right now, and we have just got unlucky and come here right in the middle of it.........

We spent the first two days boat fishing - day one was chasing the false albacore, and we nailed a fair few. The skipper looks for feeding birds then invariably you find shoals of these little tuna underneath. They don't grow that big, but they hit and run unlike anything we have got at home. They tend to cast little metal casting jigs and crank the living daylights out it, so I put on one of those IMA Honey Trap lures on and hooked up.

The second day on the boat and we went all out for stripers. Yes, we could have taken the easier option and smashed a bunch more "albies" as they are known, but stripers are what we are really after. Our skipper worked his socks off all day, but we did not land any - we did catch a number of the ridiculously savage bluefish, and I had a good striper turn on my surface lure, but it was one of the hardest day's fishing I have ever had. We were doing a lot of surface fishing with these big lures they use out here, but when I showed our skipper a MegaBass X-Pod and explained what it does, he insisted I fish with it, and that is fact was the only lure to raise a bass up. I also caught a few bluefish on it as well, plus on some weightless soft plastics they love using. If I can find the right sized ones out here then I know they will be killer on "our" bass.

We then got into the shore fishing, but sadly this again is proving to be about as tough as it gets. There have been a few big stripers taken, but there are one hell of a lot of anglers fishing very, very hard at the moment in this month long competition they run every year out here. It should be fishing it's socks off right now, and what we hear about how good the fishing can be makes it even harder that it's so tough at the moment. One guy who has taken us out guided shore fishing has landed them to 56lbs from the beach, and that was only a few years ago. These are some serious fish !! We have just got unlucky on this trip, and I am already making plans to get back on the stripers as soon as possible. They catch these fish from so many different kinds of locations and via so many different methods that I can easily see the fascination with them.

But for all the tough fishing, I am getting to meet some very cool anglers, and I am starting to learn about the whole "striper thing". Places to go, times of the year, tides, methods, tackle etc. - and what has really struck me is how incredibly similar so much of their bass fishing is to ours. OK, so a lot of the gear they sometimes use is somewhat heavier to cope with the larger lures, but then a lot of the time they might use fishing tackle that is along the lines of what we might use ourselves. I did catch a couple of small stripers off the shore yesterday morning, and I had my hooks straightened out by a proper fish this morning - plus I had a decent bass crash right over the top of my surface lure without hooking up. I caught those two stripers on the MegaBass X-140SW, raised the fish up on the surface on the Xorus Patchinko, and my hooks were straightened out on the killer IMA Sasuke 140S (sinking). My fault, in that the hooks are simply not up to dealing with fish of these potential sizes, but it did at least prove to me that "our" bass lures were of course going to work just fine on these fish. When I come back I will bring a load more of "our" lures out, but I will have replaced all the trebles with much stronger models. They are fine for our bass, but not for stripers.

Every single location we have seen, been taken to or fished ourselves has been so like any number of locations we might find our own bass swimming around in. The place I caught the bass from and got my hooks mashed was so like a spot we fish in Ireland for example that it felt kind of weird. Same kinds of sea conditions you would wet yourself about, plus lots of structure etc., and I hooked and landed/lost the fish in exactly the kinds of places you would expect to hook a bass at home. The major differences to me seem to be the size (obviously), and the fact that these striped bass are a true migratory species. The fishing seasons tend to be fairly short and very defined, but on the flip side they can get into huge numbers of fish when they are running strong. Obviously I am nowhere close to even getting on the first rung of the long ladder with these stripers, but you have to start somewhere.........