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"When I'm Not Selling Houses in Wellfleet, I'm Fishing For Stripers"


Jim Chudomel, 3Harbors Realty

Although I've been fishing most of my life, I really do not consider myself an "accomplished" fisherman.  I grew up in New York City where the fish were few and, even then, one didn't dare eat what they caught.  Having lived in Wellfleet over the past 20+ years, I have been able to learn a few things from "locals" who consider fishing a career, and work a past time. 

Wellfleet is surrounded by ocean and bay water - both breeding grounds for fish of all kinds, but especially stripers.  If you decide that you want to go after one of these great eating species.  Here are some ideas on where to begin.

First, if you are here in the spring or fall, walk the ocean shoreline with light tackle. Stick to the Oceanside unless you have access to a boat.  I'd say you need no more than 12 lb test line on light spinning gear and fanny pack to carry extras - leaders, tackle, maybe a pair of pliers.  I see so many summer folks out on the beach with extra "stout" gear (30+ lb test and 12 foot poles) and they get exhausted lugging all of that equipment around.  So if you are "throwing" tackle and not bottom fishing, then light tackle allows you to throw to spots and walk around without getting tired.  I tend to be an "active" fisherman - by that I mean I like to get my walking in at the same time I am fishing.  So I throw, work the bait in the surf, and then walk a bit.  Generally speaking, fish will hit your bait (lure) within 25 feet of the surf line, even closer as you get to the ridge line of sand and pebbles.  They love to cruise in and out of that area looking for smaller bait fish.  Besides, that close in, they are somewhat protected from the seals that have recently over wintered here in great numbers.  But that is the subject of another post - Seals - Can't live With Them, but Can Live Without Them. 

When I am throwing lures, my personal favorite is to use the rubber variety - Slug-Go is great, but there are so many others on the market now.  They are carried everywhere  and you shouldn't pay more than $10 for a package of 5.  I like them because they are cheap and effective - if I lose one to a fish - then it's not like losing a $15 painted lure.

Color does make a difference and I generally use something in a light brown (Shad), with a light underside (ventral) color.  You may have to attach the rubber worm to some of the lead/hook variety (jigs), depending upon the amount of wind and the distance that you hope to carry.  I generally like to carry several jigs, starting at ½ oz and then in increments of .5 oz, right up to 2 oz.  Since each cast is different you might want to play with the weight you are using to get the bait (lure) down further into the surf - but do not over do.  Stay as light as you can.

The two factors working against you will be (besides the seal population!) the wind and the current.  Adjust your jigs accordingly.  Always fish the incoming tide.  That's not to say that you won't catch fish during the other times, but to give yourself the best opportunity fish incoming - start about 45 minutes before high tide and fish through it.  Tide charts are found everywhere on Cape Cod and especially in the local newspapers.

Once the cast is complete, allow the jig/worm to settle to the bottom.  Then in a medium reel speed, start reeling.  Stop every 3rd turn or so to twitch the rod head and make the lure speed up and then start to sink.  Generally speaking the fish will strike as the jig starts to sink.  As you get closer to the shore line - do not give up.  This area is prime for feeding fish.  Dangle the lure like you are playing with a cat and string.  Then move on unless you get a strike.  If you do get a strike, go right back to the same spot and do it all over again.

Last bit of advice for this posting - Be Prepared!  There are several varieties of fish out there when the weather warms and they become very active.  Notice I have not asked you to use a leader to connect the Slug-Go to the line.  Stripers can be very finicky and leaders can spook them.  You can use a "shock leader" - basically a leader made out of mono-filament line of higher strength - but I suggest a direct tie for the best "feel". The "Be Prepared" part of this has to do with Bluefish - the other competing species relatively abundant during the warmer weather.  Even a smaller Blue is likely to give you a heck of fight in the surf and current, with light gear.  As with any fish, just let them play out and get tired.  Then once you have them close to the surf line, on the next wave don't reel them in, just back up with the wave coming on shore.  So many fish are lost right at the surf line because fishermen want to pull them up using the pole.  Back up with the next wave, and you'll be happy with the results.  Also, part of being prepared - once your fish is flopping around on the shore, keep an eye out for Seals.  They will come out of the water to take fish.  If that happens to you, let them have it.  The National Seashore takes a dim view of humans coming in contact with sea mammals, so back off.

Good luck and enjoy the walk, it's not only about catching fish.  I'm in the Truro office of 3Harbors Realty (across from Jams).  Stop by and we can share fish stories.  JC

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