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Pro Talk: Floating Soft Baits Over Boulders for Big Stripers, Cape Cod

15 Minutes with Capt. Mike Hogan

Introduction:

I designed and tested the Hogy 14-inch Floating Baits along the Elizabeth Islands for striped bass during Vineyard Derby season. These famed islands are more than ideal for striper fishing. Submerged boulders and rocky ridge lines hold fish. While fishing with live eels is a common method, artificials can often give you an edge over the real thing as you can fish them faster and cover more ground.

Location:

Woods Hole and Elizabeth Islands, Cape Cod

Approach:

There are two approaches really.

  • Woods Hole: Cast Up tide, and work the bait as it swings over structure. Meanwhile, have a captain hold the boat in position against the tide, as close to parallell to the strike zone as you can practically get.
  • Elizabeth Islands: Fish any of the boulder fields along the islands and expect to catch fish. The floating soft baits will create a lot of surface commotion and draw strikes. Be ready, there are some very large fish.

 

Lure: Hogy Floating Series 

I say the bigger, the better.  Sure, the 10-inch Hogy works, but I’m a huge fan of the 14-inch bait. Not only does it resemble an eel, it is also visible from a great distance and it’s a big enough meal to be worth swimming that great distance.

Why:

  • Floats when rigged with unweighted hook.
  • Sheer size draws fish from greater distances. High return on energy factor. (In other words, worth the effort)
  • Long profile has plenty of action and is a great eel imitation.

 

Bait Size: 14″

 

Colors:

Hot colors such as bubble gum is easy to see. When you spot a fish following your lure, you’ll be able to determine the best retrieve. And you can easily see where the bait is relative to structure.

 

Rigging:

You have two options:

  • The 10/0 un-weighted swim bait hook. The sheer weight of the hook is enough to weight and keel the bait so it submerges when twitched, but will let the bait float to the surface when the retrieve is stopped. It’s about 3.5 inches long, so it helps to keep the bait upright for better walk-the-dog style presentations.
  • The 8/0 Soft Circle Hook: Unlike the 3.5-inch swim bait hook that adds some stiffness to the bait, the Soft Circle Hook attaches to the bait by the small cork-screw style keeper that is screwed into the nose of the bait. Because of this the bait will have even more action.

 

Retrieve:

 This bait is all about the hang time. Keep the bait in target areas with short and fast twitches, but a very slow retrieve. Simulate a baitfish that can’t make it to safety. Work the bait over structure. Visibility is key, so this is a technique that is best for relatively clear or calm water. The only challenge here is that a slow moving bait is easily sized up by a larger, experienced fish. We recommend that after causing a lot of commotion, pick up the retrieve speed for a few cranks. This will often make the fish commit.

 

Hook-set:

If you get a hit with any slack in the line, make sure you reel down on the fish an instant before setting the hook. Unless you are fishing this bait at high speeds you’ll notice that large stripers will attack the 14” floating Hogy at the front of the bait.

 

Outfit:

  • Rod: St. Croix Avid Inshore 8′ Heavy Power
  • Reel: Shimano Sustain 5000
  • Line: 40LB Power Pro
  • Leader: 40lb Flouro
  • Knot: Loop Knot

 

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Posted in Striped Bass, The Hogy Floating Series Tagged with: , , ,

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