Lure Fishing for Striper and Bluefish in the USA
After 30 years of lure fishing for European sea bass and enjoying every minute of learning as much as I could about catching this awesome fish, I had begun to feel that a trip to the USA targeting striped bass and bluefish was long overdue. With these species in mind, I decided to fly into Boston, Massachusetts and head for the Cape Cod Canal for a few days' worth of fishing. I elected to take a couple of travel rods as the airlines prices were ridiculously high and it would make more economical sense to buy a rod at my destination than pay to take my usual equipment.
For many years I had heard about the huge striper regularly caught in the States but really didn’t know much about them other than that they looked remarkably like our European sea bass, save for the striking horizontal black stripes running down each side. Although I had come over to have some fun chasing striper and bluefish, I was also very keen to test my range of Samson lures that had been designed for European sea bass. Although the lures had proven to be a great success in European waters for our native bass, they had yet to be tested on their striped cousins and I was keen to see whether they would be effective lures for stripers.
My first stop was the Cape Cod Canal. I must admit that after hearing many stories about how unfriendly the locals could be, I was not sure what to expect. But on the days I fished the Canal, I certainly didn’t experience any problems from other fishermen, and met some really nice friendly anglers such as 'Bull', a highly experienced Canal striper angler who was able to put one of my Samson long casting lures around 150 meters across the canal.
Unfortunately the big stripers weren’t running at this time but I did have a lot of fun hooking lots of schoolies in conditions very different to what I was used to successfully fishing back home. It was also great to see that the Samson Enticer range were proving themselves as deadly lures for stripers, just like they are for their European cousins!
With the lures working well, I met up with a few other English anglers that make the trip each year to target striped bass. Again, I had a lot of fun and success fishing around the estuaries with them. Although estuary fishing is not my usual type of bass fishing, I found it a lot of fun and ended up having some enjoyable sessions catching schoolie stripers and bluefish.
The most significant difference I noticed in fishing lures for stripers compared to European sea bass was the numbers. It was so much easier to find fish and to get them to commit to hitting lures in very calm seas and clear water. After doing a couple of night sessions and hooking into some better size stripers, it was time to move on and look for some rockier grounds - more like what I am used to from my bass fishing along the coast of Portugal.
Fishing over rocks and reefs is where I feel most at home, so after finding some good looking marks I was really excited to be back fishing in my natural element, clambering over slippery rocks and throwing my lures into the swell running over the weedy broken ground.
The fishing was excellent and I found that the same fishing tactics that worked back home could be applied here. The bass loved to move in close in the white water, with hotspots being around where the waves broke. I had great success on the Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait, long casting Enticer Minnow and the Mini Candle. All these models proved themselves as effective lures for stripers, being eagerly inhaled by the fish and accounting for numerous nice bass each.
With plenty of fish around compared to what I was used to, I also had the chance to test some prototype airbrushed Samson lures to see what colors worked best. Like back home, I found the natural mullet color very effective and when things got quiet, a quick change of color could also be a good tactic. The Samson long casting lures had been very effective on the Canal blasting out as far as possible and also proved ideal over the kind of more rugged rocky areas they were originally designed for. As well as testing the new airbrushed designs, I spent a lot of time fishing the natural white color, spending action packed mornings enjoying the fantastic sport.
Although many fish could be found close in, with low tides it was vital to have a long casting lure that could be worked effectively over the shallow rocky ground.
Although no monster striper were caught, I did have a great time landing some lovely striped bass and I was also fortunate enough to get into some big bad bluefish.
Blues are another fish I have become quite familiar with over the years fishing in Portugal and I've always enjoyed their hard fighting qualities and aerial acrobatics. With striped bass tending to hunt more around the white water and rocky beaches, I found another nice spot with a deep sand drop off ideal for bluefish to cruise up and down in search of bait fish. On a recent trip to Portugal I had managed to catch my personal best bluefish of 18lbs and I didn’t expect to be beating that anytime soon. I was certainly pleased to be proved wrong after enjoying four days of epic bluefish action.
On my first session, I enjoyed nice warm calm conditions and I was successful using 50g Samson lures for bluefish. With a storm rapidly brewing, however, I knew I was in for some extremely windy and challenging conditions. In some of the wildest conditions I have ever fished, I opted for 90g Samson lures that not only allowed me to cast further, but also held better in the water.
With the wind being cross/offshore, I was able to cast over 100 meters offshore to the patrolling bluefish and get into some fantastic specimens. Over the course of the four days, striper fishing in the mornings and bluefish fishing in the afternoons, I managed to land around 30 double figure bluefish with a few being over 20lbs. I certainly didn’t expect fishing of this quality in the US and I'm now looking forward to getting back and seeing if I can find one of those monster stripers I’ve been dreaming of!