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.