The word I received was that there was plenty of life in the upper Bay from Mattapoisett to the west entrance of the Canal and I was able to see it for myself this morning when I had the opportunity to fish with Capt. Mike Hogan and Matt Rissell.
When we came out around the corner of the Maritime Academy, there were clouds of terns and gulls working on bait, with the occasional bass breaking the surface. The sounder showed that there were far more fish down below, but the challenge was trying to figure out just what they were feeding on. We saw squid and some smaller baitfish that might have been sand eels, silversides, or small sea herring.
We eventually made the run down towards Cleveland Ledge and Bird Island and there were even larger flocks of terns working over bass and bait. Mike eventually got things dialed in with a silver Pro Tail Paddle Tail that produced a solid 30+-inch fish. The tough thing with fish feeding in open water at this time of year is that they tend to move very fast and that was the case as the clouds of birds broke up for the most part, with occasional bursts of activity. Setting up long drifts and working deep with Pro Tails helped in locating schools of bass that were holding deeper in the water column. Overall, however, I thought we would see more fish caught given a fair number of boats working the area.
Steve Drake texted me to report a 30-pound bass that was taken from the west entrance this morning by an angler who was livelining mackerel, schools of which have been moving in and out of the east end of the Canal, many of which are on the large size, said Bruce Miller. Some years schools of mackerel move up Buzzards Bay, resulting in some incredible topwater fishing; given the reports of large schools of mackerel down around Gay Head and the presence of so much small bait they feed on, this could shape up into one of those years.
There has been some good early morning activity from Stony Point Dike over to the entrance of the Weweantic River, with the occasional legal fish mixed in with the schoolies. Mike Thomas said that up in the Weweantic, they are working around the high tension lines, making access tough at times, but plugs, plastics, or bucktail jigs in white or bone have been productive; he recommended that if you prefer to use topwater plugs, then spook styles would be a better choice than, say, pencil poppers, as the former can be retrieved slower and even just worked side-to-side with a minimum of forward motion when a fish swirls on it. Although many folks believe that early season bass won’t hit topwater offerings due to the cold, the reality is that they are more lethargic, yet still can be coaxed into taking a plug. Mike did hear of a bass in the 25-pound class taken from one of the rivers in Wareham, but overall the majority of the larger bass have been in the low 30-inch class.
From Monument Beach to Woods Hole, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of schoolies, but there are also some fish pushing the legal limit in the warmer backwaters, such as the 26-inch bass that Matt Rissell managed on the fly rod inside Quissett after visits to other prime early season locales came up empty.
With the water still on the cold side and the combination of overcast skies and rain doing little to help it, the tautog bite has been a bit slow. Mike Thomas asked me to emphasize that there is no spring commercial season and iffy weather so far this spring has kept many folks at home. This morning, there was a concentration of boats from Wing’s Neck to Scraggy Neck, particularly on Southwest Ledge. No monster tog have been reported, but there are enough 18 to 19-inch fish to make it interesting for the regulars who have little trouble picking up their three fish at 16-inch minimum daily bag limit each time they are out.
Like the tautog, the Lady K out of Onset is reporting that everyone on board is limiting out on scup (or porgies, as folks Rhode Island to New Jersey call them) and the fish are in the jumbo class, a good sign that inshore spawning is occurring.