July 11, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Perhaps it’s warming water temperatures, but whatever the reason, the fluke fishing is definitely on the upswing around the upper bay.
Tommy at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay told me that he sent someone over to the Mashnee Flats and he caught some really nice fluke in the six-pound range, along with a number of throwbacks. That’s really good news because for the last several years most people have been saying that the only place they have caught big summer flatties has been along the edges of the Canal in deeper water.
Numerous bait options exist for fluke fishing, but one of the absolute best are sand eels and Tommy said they are getting their first delivery of fresh ones on Friday.
With the sea bass spawn over, the fish are definitely on the smaller side as the larger males drop off into deeper water around the Elizabeths and Noman’s. While fishing in Woods Hole yesterday, I saw the Miss Chris, a headboat that runs out of Onset, passing through, a pretty good sign that larger fish are more difficult to catch in the bay since it costs less in terms of fuel to stay closer to home if the fishing is good enough.
Scup fishing remains good and some folks continue to liveline them in hopes of catching a larger striper, but A.J. Coots from Red Top has been marking large schools of pogies that often have big bass on them. Then again, there are times when the linesiders have eaten too well and won’t even look at another menhaden. That’s when tossing a large walk-the-dog or splashy topwater plug can pay dividends, especially when the bait and bass are stacked in relatively shallow water.
Bluefish numbers continue to be way down in the bay, but there are still enough schoolies around, especially in the early morning before the boat traffic gets going, as well as at dusk. Bigger bass definitely are nighttime activity.
People too often associate fluke fishing with simple bottom fishing, where you put a piece of bait on a hook and drop it to the bottom and leave it there. The best fluke anglers, however, keep their offerings moving, typically either with a rapid, tapping motion or longer, slower sweeps of the rod, thereby taking advantage of a summer flatty’s aggressive nature.
July 4, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Folks in the know have been fishing deeper water if fluke is their targeted species.
I just can’t give B-Bay a higher rating simply due to the lack of bluefish. A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay said that it has been a couple of years since there has been anything close to the typical numbers of these fun-to-catch fish.
A.J. also mentioned that he and others are hoping for a repeat of the king mackerel action off of Old Silver Beach and other North/West Falmouth locations. Deep Diving Yo-zuri Crystal and 3-D Crystal Minnows were a hot item last year for trolling up these fish.
Early mornings and dusk/night are definitely the best time to plug fish for any bass approaching legal size around the west entrance to the Canal, with some folks still gathering pogies and livelining around Hog and Mashnee Islands, as well the deep water off Onset.
Although most Cape anglers never make the run far enough west to fish the waters from Marion to New Bedford/Dartmouth, A.J. pointed out that the variety of fishing opportunities in those waters is phenomenal, including the salt rivers, bays, and harbor and the ledges that harbor black sea bass, fluke, and scup, as well as stripers. Pogies and live eels are typically very effective, but early morning activity with topwater plugs such as the Hogy Charter Grade Poppers, Dog Walkers, and Floating Sliders can be excellent along the backwater marshes and rocky shorelines.
Schoolies still remain in good numbers in pretty much any backwater from Bourne to Falmouth, but with the increase in high, midway sun, get out early or at night for best success and consider a switch over the lures that work better with slower retrieve speeds, especially at night.
Fluke fishing remains OK and should improve with an increase in water temperatures; while squid strips are common baits used to tip rigs and jigs when fishing for summer flatties, fresh sand eels, which Maco’s in Buzzards Bay and Monument Beach typically get deliveries of in time for the weekend, and Berkley Gulp Swimming Mullets are excellent options as well.
Not to be forgotten, you will have to look to find spots where there aren’t sea bass, they are so common. But there are more sublegals than monsters, as they seem to have moved south of the Vineyard into deeper water.
Practice your knot tying skills with flexible wire, heavy fluorocarbon, or even stainless steel piano wire if you intend to fish for king mackerel, if they show up. They have teeth that will truly cut your line like a hot knife through butter.
June 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
The sea bass fishing remains solid in the bay and there are fluke in the mix as well.
Jeff Hopwood at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay and Monument Beach said the black sea bite remains really good, with quality fish taken from the old Canal markers around Pocasset where a group of kayakers has been catching both on a regular basis.
He was fishing there recently with his daughter and hooked up with what he thought was a monster sea bass and called for the net, which proved even more fortuitous since he had a 26-inch fluke on the line and you know what happens when you try to life a big fluke out of the water and into the boat.
Other popular spots such as Wing’s Neck, Southwest Ledge, Bird Island, and the ledge in front of Cleveland Light continue to fish well for both species, with plenty of scup in the mix as well.
When it comes to fluke fishing, sand eels are a vastly underrated bait. It might be because most shops only carry frozen ones that don’t last long on the hook, but Maco’s gets deliveries of fresh ones each week.
The schoolie fishing remains solid pretty much anywhere you look in the protected waters from Bourne to Falmouth, but changes of tide in the morning and evening increase your odds.
Jeff said there have been some larger bass caught around the schools of pogies that have been hanging out from Wareham over to Mattapoisett and Marion; these are resident fish that will hang out close to certain areas all season long.
Some of the fish that have been moving into the west entrance of the Canal continue to filter out into the west entrance around Gray Gables, Onset, and the Hog Island Channel. I saw a couple of boats running through from the east end on Tuesday that stopped around the Maritime Academy and Gray Gables, a pretty good sign that they had something in mind because they were headed to such a specific area.
Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth frequently speaks to an angler who fishes these waters on a regular basis and he did well, as he often does, with topwater plugs earlier this week. He couldn’t find any pogies which he had been livelining, but the big spook that he prefers didn’t let him down.
Although many fluke sharpies tip their bucktail jigs with strips of squid or other natural baits (Ellie Hopwood used to carry mummichogs or chubs that you could combine with sand eels or squid to make a “fluke sandwich”), David Jeffers from Red Top in Buzzards Bay told me has been catching fluke from shore and he uses Gulp Swimming Mullets to sweeten his jigs.
June 20, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
The black sea bass bite remains strong in the bay, from spots that draw plenty of attention, such as Cleveland Ledge, to those little pieces of structure that the sharpies do their best to keep to themselves
Variety is the name of the game in Buzzards Bay, producing its well deserved rating this week.
A Woods Hole regular who had guests that wanted sea bass eschewed the great fishing in the sounds and made the run to Cleveland Ledge, where they caught some of the largest sea bass he has ever seen. There are all kinds of rigs designed for sea bass, but Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth makes one of the most productive. Jim spends the winter dressing hooks with a combination of nylon hair and flash; he then uses three of them on his rig, with a snap at the bottom where one can attach a bucktail jig or metal/epoxy offering as weight. Tip the feathers with a small piece of squid and triples and quadruples aren’t out of the question.
Then again, “tapping” jigs by themselves near structure will often produce the largest BSB and keep the scup away.
All of the big bass around the west entrance to the Canal haven’t moved into the land cut and passed right through – yet. In fact, there are resident fish that hold around the numerous pieces of structure from Hog Island and Onset out past Stony Point Dike and from Wareham to points west. There are also still some good sized schools of pogies in the upper Bay that the regulars have been following since large bass often accompany them.
Small bluefish and stripers are also hard to miss, especially on the turn of the tide, for boaters, while inshore waters remain sufficiently cool, which combined with large amounts of small bait such as sand eels, silversides, and mummichogs has shore anglers happy. Targeting structure with spooks and poppers is a lot of fun, but subsurface presentations with soft plastics or flies will also produce plenty of schoolies, with a dead drift approach often the best way to go as opposed to a constant retrieve, especially one with too much zip to it.
Bass of all sizes are still being caught in the numerous coves from Onset to Stony Point Dike and around the necks on the Cape side of the bay, with a number of folks commenting that they have been surprised by the number of bass in the 30-inch class that have been hitting their topwater plug.
Small three to four-pound bluefish are also more prevalent this year, with outgoing tide around spots such as Quissett, Megansett, Wild Harbor, Pocasset, and Monument Beach good spots to check out. Wareham Bay also has a number of locations such as the Castle to Butler Point and around to Planting Island where the choppers might not be showing, but they can be raised at this time of year with topwater plugs.
If there is a downside to the bay angling right now, it is the slow to start fluke action. Then again, it just might be that not many people are focused on them yet since the sea bass and scup fishing is so good.
As is true of so many anglers, folks from upper Buzzards Bay locations often focus their attention on areas outside their home ports that have developed reputations for good fishing, such as the Elizabeths and the Vineyard, while in truth they would do well to learn their local waters and all of their fish attracting structure. At the very least, before racing off somewhere else, get an extra early start and try some plugging and soft plastic tempting close to home. You might just be rewarded with the only sizeable fish you catch all day or even any fish of any size.
June 14, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
Light tackle activity on both bass and bluefish has been solid throughout the bay this season.
Rick Dunn emailed me to report that the fishing for schoolies was solid from when he left his slip at Kingman’s Marine, with fish taking soft plastics around Bassett’s Island and the Maritime Academy. His experience pretty much matches what other boaters have told me, with bass feeding both in close around structure and out in open water.
Shore anglers also continue to enjoy excellent early season angling, with the greatest challenge being access. That makes early morning/first light or evening/night fishing the way to go as you can sometimes slither into spots if you are quiet when everyone else is asleep.
If larger stripers are your goal, then livelining or chunking pogies or mackerel is advised, with a school or two of sizeable fish hanging around the Hog Island Channel, where they move in towards Onset before working their way into the Canal.
There are more bluefish in the bay as well, with their average running about four to five-pounds as opposed to the one to two’s that were so prevalent last season.
Black sea bass fishing remains excellent around pretty much every patch of structure in the bay; as seems be the general rule, bait fishing with squid will generally result in small fish, as well as intense competition from scup, while employing metal or bucktail jigs, with or without teasers, will increase the average size of your catch.
Fluke reports and catches are hard to come by, apparently because most everyone seeking groundfish is targeting sea bass or scup.
If you take a moment to watch anglers who consistently catch larger sea bass or fluke, you will notice that their rod is never still. Instead, they are employing some sort of jigging motion that I often refer to as tapping their rod up and down. It’s not an aggressive movement, but one that provides an extra, tantalizing flutter or flash to a jig or rig.
June 6, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
The black sea bass bite is still very good, but you are typically going to have to put in more time and check out a number of areas to find the larger ones that everyone wants.
I have heard from more than one person that some of the big bass in the Canal are moving into the west end from Buzzards Bay when the current goes east, meaning that there is at least one school of big bass from the Hog Island Channel to the Stony Point Dike and in various spots from Wareham to Marion. In these waters, these cows apparently are feeding on pogies and have been tough to coax into taking a plug or soft plastic, so snagging and dropping has been the best bet at catching one.
There are schools of bass up to the 30+-inch range feeding on smaller bait throughout the bay, especially on the turn of the tide. Sometimes, they are feeding on sand eels, while at others the forage that is getting their attention looks like juvenile sea herring. There are also reports of some bluefish mixed in among the bass.
Shore anglers are still having plenty of fun catching mainly smaller bass among the coves, harbors, and rock piles from Bourne to Falmouth, but I have heard a few reports of larger fish being caught at night on metal lips and other swimmers.
The sea bass bite remains excellent – when boaters have been able to get out, that is. The weekend looks great and remember that there are a multitude of pieces of structure that hold these fish in upper Buzzards Bay, so there is no reason to hang around a fleet if you prefer solitude. Matt Sheehy at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay emphasized that you will most likely have to move around to find any kind of concentration of larger BSB, with actively jigging bucktails and Hogy Epoxy/Herring Jigs often the best way to get the attention of larger specimens as opposed to using bait.
Buzzards Bay is a great area to use topwater plugs. While it is common to look for birds working over bait and bass or blues, tossing Hogy Poppers, Dog Walkers, and Sliders around the many rock points and boulder fields is a blast – pun intended!
May 30, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’m going to give B-Bay the nod over CC-Bay mainly because of the variety and quality of fishing that is available right now.
First off, Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth spoke to an angler who fishes the west entrance to the land cut on a regular basis. This guy loves to plug fish, but he turned to livelining pogies around the Hog Island Channel and managed to catch bass over the 40-inch mark. Some boaters are also slowing trolling pogies as opposed to livelining them.
Finding the one or two big schools of pogies is the way to go since the bass are hanging right with them, but Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said that some quality fish up to the 30+-pound class have been caught by folks using white or mackerel paddletails, which leads him to believe that the bass are also feeding on small macks.
I haven’t heard anything about folks running through the Canal to jig up some mackerel and then running back to the west end to liveline them, but that method is favored by some highliners who fish the waters from the Maritime Academy to Stony Point Dike and over to the waters between Bird Island and Marion.
The change to the west tide proved to be disappointing for Smoky Anderson and I on Tuesday as a couple of schools of surface feeding bass moved through from the Maritime Academy down to Mashnee Flats, but they were gone far too soon and proved to be far too finicky. We did manage to catch some of the smallest bass I have seen in a long time inside Monument Beach, as well as one really nice black sea bass.
Speaking of BSB, the bite has been OK, but there are still far more small fish around and the crew at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay advised that you are going to have to work a little to find the quality humpheads. They are there and pink or chartreuse bucktail jigs, rigged with between one and three teasers above, continue to account for the higher percentage of larger fish.
The scup fishing remains very good, while the tautog bite is slowing down.
According to Evan Eastman, catching schoolies from shore remains a consistent bet, especially if you toss small white bucktails, white plastics (rigged in a multitude of ways), or small surface plugs. Evan likes West Falmouth because it is close to home, but I have heard of good numbers being caught inside Megansett, around Old Silver Beach, and Pocasset.
With so many small bass around, some of them amazingly small, there are some tips that folks should follow. One, bend the barbs down on your hooks and use lures that feature single hooks. Also, pay attention to your fishing so you are ready to set the hook, thereby avoiding (hopefully!) fish that are hooked deep around the gills.
In addition, ask yourself how many small fish do you want to catch from a given spot; it might be possible to catch a large number and some folks love to count fish, but perhaps a better idea would be to move around and see where you can catch a fish or two, thereby creating another challenge.
By the way, some of the schoolies were so small, that I am going to carry a tape measure just to see how tiny they really are. I hate the idea of yanking a fish into the boat or dragging it up on the beach or rocks just to take measurements. Then again, I brought a really big fish into my boat assuming we were going to keep it, but the angler decided it would be best to release it. Some prior planning in the form of talking about what the plans were would have been a good idea; I could have held the fish in the water and then allowed him to keep it there for a quick photo. This certainly would have made for a cleaner release.
May 24, 2019 Weekly Report
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon, but the black sea bass that are paving the bottom of the waters in the bay are at times raising havoc with anglers who are targeting striped bass. This is especially true when bigger stripers are mixed in with sea bass, as the latter are far more aggressive to a lure such as a buck tail, metal, soft plastic, or Epoxy Jig® Lures dropped down on a large target viewed on a fish finder.
Speaking of sea bass, there are plenty of fish throughout the bay, although they seem to be larger on average down towards the Elizabeths as opposed to Cleveland Ledge and even stretches of the upper Bay, but that should change soon.
Scup fishing remains very good and at times anglers seeking sea bass have been avoiding using bait in any form, whether alone on bottom rig or on a jig, to avoid being covered up by those expert bait stealers.
Flyrodders and light tackle anglers are having a great time with stripers from really small schoolies up to the 30+-inch class, with the both the morning and evening tides fishing equally well. Typically, on the turn of the tide, the fish are on top and can be found by looking for flocks of gulls or terns, but there are numerous patches of structure such as points, ledges, and coves where fish typically hold throughout the tide and can be targeted with surface plugs such as Hogy Popper or Dog Walker.
The Wareham rivers are still producing quality fish as the cool, wet spring we are experiencing has kept water temperatures down and the bass willing to hit plugs and plastics aggressively.
Unlike sea bass, which I rarely hear about being caught from shore, tautog in the spring are often caught by shorebound anglers working hard structure with relatively deep water nearby. David Jeffers from Red Top in Buzzards Bay told me he caught a six-pound tog fishing from shore in the Bourne area and the Wareham Narrows are known for their tautog fishing at this time of year when they move in to spawn.
Shore anglers continue to enjoy a banner spring from Hog Island down to Quissett, with bass willing to hit pretty much everything, although Evan Eastman from Eastman’s Sport & Tackle continues to stick with white bucktails or plastics and has little trouble around his home waters of West Falmouth.
It’s not uncommon at this time of year to hear of some weakfish being caught by boat anglers fishing for other species. Weakfish are very fond of yellow bucktail jigs and plastics and they are definitely a schooling fish; where you catch one, it is not uncommon to find others, so if you do hook up with a squeteague, keep track of your drift and repeat it, looking for marks on your sonar.
May 17, 2019 Weekly Report
While much of the early season action in this area typically takes place in the numerous rivers, harbors, bays, and estuaries that empty into the bay, there are far more reports of fish activity out in open water.
In fact, many anglers targeting tautog have been overrun by schools of small bass that strip the green crabs of their hooks. An obvious solution would be to move to another area, but some toggers, when faced with this scenario, elect to go with jigs tipped with a piece of crab that move through the bass quicker and get to the bottom where the tautog are hanging.
I have heard from some folks that there are terns working over bait out in the open water of the bay, which is typically a sign that there are sand eels or other small bait in the area, which makes the slim profile of a Hogy Pro Tail Eel or the Skinny Series, fished on jigheads or weighted swimbait hooks, excellent choices. If you aren’t carrying any Skinny plastics, the seven-inch Original series will work just fine in most cases.
You can typically get close to these schools of bass at this time of year and stay with them by drifting with the current, but if you need extra casting distance, the olive, green, or silver Epoxy Jigs work really well.
While my preference is typically to locate schools of surface feeding fish at this time of year, if this scenario is not playing out, then using your electronics to mark a school and then dropping a heavier Epoxy Jigs, Hogy Sand Eel Jig, or one of the Hogy soft plastic offerings rigged on a heavier jighead is a good idea.
On days when you are faced with cool, gray, and rainy conditions, don’t forget to revisit areas where you had good activity on top when the weather was warmer and sunnier. The change in weather might have the bass holding deeper in the water column or they might be less active.
According to Evan Eastman, small white surface plugs have been working well for him around West Falmouth and that seems to be the case from Monument Beach to Quissett and across the bay from Wareham to Mattapoisett. Especially on cloudy, raw days, your best bet is to look up inside, where water temperatures are more likely to be in the striper zone.
Along with an increase in the number of stripers above the 28-inch minimum in the Weweantic and Agawam Rivers, the latter has produced tautog up to six-pounds for shore anglers fishing around the Narrows.
With fish moving up and down in open water during the spring and early summer migration, it is very important to target the end of one current and the first part of the turn. It is very common, especially around the west entrance of the Canal, say from Scraggy Neck up to the Maritime Academy, to enjoy some great action when the current changes direction and begins to move towards the east end of the land cut, only to have it shut down in what seems like an instant.
In this case, some of these schools will move right into the Canal, putting them off limits to boat anglers; if you aren’t on the scene when things are happening, in the spring you will often be left lamenting the fact that you decided to catch a little more sleep.