Trophy Striped Bass Tips with Capt. Matt Zimmerman

I first met Matt Zimmerman, a.k.a. Zimm, in the summer of 2018 when I moved to Massachusetts for a seasonal job. We spent the rest of that summer meeting up at a boat ramp at 4:30 AM to chase busting bass before work. One of these mornings, I got to witness something truly incredible, a boat side eat from a 45″ cow striper in the wash. Now I’ve never personally hooked into a true “cow” striper like that, but needless to say after witnessing that go down on the bow, I knew I needed to chat with Zimm before this Striped Bass season to attempt to glean some tips and tricks!

Flylords: What setups are you using when you’re targeting larger bass?

I’ve been fishing Cheeky Limitless 425 and Boost 400 reels paired with intermediate, and 350g sink tips. For rods, whatever isn’t broken, mainly 8-10 WT Orvis Helios 3D rods

Flylords: Any tips for fishing off a boat for stripers in the open water?

Having confidence is the name of the game. Knowing how to identify “fishy water”. Birds & bait are the #1 indicators, especially in moving water around the sub-surface structure. Sometimes you’ll even smell the bait before you see it. Spend time learning areas, fish are only going to be in certain areas during specific tides. Just because you don’t catch big fish in areas doesn’t mean they aren’t there. 

Secondly, practice your double haul. It’s the difference-maker between casting, and “fishing”. Being in the zone, presenting your fly the right way. “Fewer casts” are better, no more than 2-3 backcasts, and let it fly.

Flylords: What is your most memorable trophy striper to date?


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That’s a tough one, you never forget your first 40” on the fly. But I’d have to say my most memorable was w/ you Dan, a 45” tank that ate boatside in the rocks out of my 12’ “ Tin Whistle”. Since then, I have landed a few fish in the 48-49” range. 

What tactics have you found most successful to get those large stripers to take a fly?

  • Being in the zone, tight to the rocks where most boats feel uncomfortable. 
  • Large 8” flies to imitate the mackerel/bunker we have locally.
  • ALWAYS watching my fly, looking for any signs of a bass slowly following. They are lazy, 90% of my big fish come within feet of my boat. 
  • Strip to the tip, and hit ’em hard!
  • Don’t palm the reel, let your drag/rod do what they are supposed to.

Where can people find and book your guided trips?

Currently, it’s all word of mouth through Instagram. My personal account is @mzimm03 or my charter page @backeddycharters – Located on the North Shore of Massachusetts. 

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