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.