September 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I have been hearing that there are albies around the west entrance to the Canal and Jonathan Gitlin was good enough to confirm that they were active all along Stony Point Dike on Wednesday during the afternoon dying west current and the turn to the east. They were chewing on peanut bunker and were very finicky, although Jonathan said his go to 21 gram Hogy Heavy Minnow Jig in Silverside did the trick, while other folks were frustrated by the finicky nature of these fish. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow and throw some flies at them, especially patterns in tutti frutti that have worked in the past when the funny fish are on small bait.
The bonito bite has definitely slowed, with no recent reports of Spanish mackerel either. Overall, Gerry Casale from Maco’s in Buzzards Bay emphasized that the funny fish have been particularly fussy this week.
On the other hand, there are still schools of small bluefish and bass feeding heavily on small bait, with both boat and shore anglers getting shots at them. Early morning and evening tide changes have been best, with marshy areas inside Monument Beach, Barlow’s Landing, and West Falmouth Harbor popular spots to look for actively feeding fish.
Gerry said the scup bite is still OK and there are still some fluke being caught along the edges of the Canal and on the Mashnee Flats, but if you are hoping for at least one more summer flattie meal, remember that the recreational season closes on October 9.
As far as tautog goes, Gerry said the bite has been on the slow side, with mostly smaller fish, including some legal fish just at or slightly over the legal recreational size limit of 16-inches. The bag limit is still three fish, but that will increase to five on October 15. Gerry expects that some larger fish will start moving in as soon as next week to feed on the numerous pieces of hard bottom structure in upper Buzzards Bay.
September 19, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I’m hoping to get out into the bay tomorrow to see for myself what is going on, as reports from this area have been widely divergent.
On the one hand, I know that one well-known charter captain ran all the way up to the Canal and saw nothing and even a run to Newport resulted in no love.
Other folks insist that the albie fishing has been very good around the west entrance to the Canal and inside Scraggy Neck, with some spurts of activity near Old Silver Beach. I am in no way doubting the veracity of these reports, but they certainly show how an area can be hot on one tide and dead on another, or even for a certain stage of a tide when some folks are lucky enough to be in on the action before that area becomes a ghost town later on.
One area that has been apparently harboring some good funny fish activity is the edges of the Mashnee Flats closest to the Canal. This area harbors two factors that often result in albie action: stronger currents and a dropoff/edge near this type of moving water.
Shore anglers have been getting shots casting from the areas around Hog Island and the beaches up towards Gray Gables, but remember that you have to access the latter legally. Parking on streets in this area will garner you a ticket, or even worse, a tow. Some guys park off site and bike in, but even in this case, it is best to keep a low profile and leave no signs that you were there.
There are lots of bluefish around, mostly smaller ones, and shore anglers and boaters who like to fish in skinny water around marshes and protected water have been enjoying some solid schoolie fishing. There’s nothing more fun than watching small bass bop surface plugs around, but keep in mind the damage that trebles do. After catching a few, I have often resorted to using a hookless plug or fly rod popper with the hook cut off at the bend to elicit strikes, laughing at the antics of these small fish.
I can’t tell you what the adult pogy situation is in the upper bay, but I haven’t even heard any whispers about them or any bigger bass that are hanging around them.
On the tautog front, the fishing is good, but generally you will be catching fish that are at or just a couple of inches above the 15-inch recreational limit. The bigger tog haven’t moved inshore, but all of this cool weather should start to bring temperatures down, even with the couple of unseasonably warm days predicted for this weekend and into early next week.
There are still some king mackerel around, as well as some Spanish mackerel, and folks are catching them more often with Epoxy Jigs and other funny fish lures while casting as opposed to most years when fast trolling with deep diving swimmers has been most effective.
September 12, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the west entrance to the Canal down to West Falmouth, the albie and bonito fishing remains pretty good, noted A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay. There is a ton of small bait in the bay and a general rule of thumb is to follow the direction of the current to find the fish.
Folks are still catching Spanish mackerel and a number of them have told me that they haven’t seen the actual fish; instead, they are casting towards “funny” looking water and hooking up.
A.J. added that Wareham Bay was alive earlier this week with small bass and bluefish putting on an impressive surface display. His report echoes what I have heard from many folks who have found schoolies pushing bait right up against the shoreline as well as in open water.
The tautog bite is just starting to pick up steam as the water is still pretty warm in the bay.
The one thing that is lacking, as it is pretty much throughout the Cape, is bigger bass. I haven’t even heard of schools of pogies that typically fill up the bays, coves, and harbors in the upper bay.
Topwater plugs are great fun when the schoolies are thick, and after catching a few, it can be a blast tossing one without hooks and watching as it gets batted all over the place.
September 5, 2019 Weekly Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Other than talk of bonito between West Falmouth and Old Silver, as well as inside Megansett and off Scraggy Neck and Wing’s Neck, things seem pretty quiet in these parts.
I made the run up to Megansett yesterday and saw an occasional splash, but nothing to write home about. But we did happen upon some exciting bass action right in against the shoreline outside of West Falmouth; there was a huge gathering of birds working over the scene and any shore angler would have had the fish right at his or her feet, but there was nobody in sight.
In fact, the only two boats we saw were running around looking for funny fish.
The waters between Mass Maritime and the Mashnee Flats are still holding small bass and bluefish, while the action has been really good on the end of the incoming and beginning of the outgoing tide from Stony Point Dike to Sippican Neck.
I spoke to Capt. Nat Chalkley last Sunday and he said on his last trip to look for pogies inside all the coves and harbors where he typically finds them produced no bait at all. Even Padnaram, which is usually a given for these baitfish, was quiet.
At least a dozen people on Sunday came into Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth and asked what they can do to catch the bonito they were seeing.
Obviously, we went into lure selection, including Hogy Epoxies and heavy metals, as well as light leaders and proper casting. But from what I heard, a little less running and gunning would be helpful, as would thinking out of the box.
For example, one guy came in looking for a very small freshwater Rapala that he said another guy was killing it on. It certainly looks like a peanut bunker, and even though it most likely wouldn’t case a long way, the fish are sometimes right next to the boat anyway.
August 29, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
It was interesting to hear from some shops that reports were tough to come by due to the wind direction this week, which kept a lot of boats tied to the dock or their moorings.
Frankly, I didn’t think the winds were that bad and I did hear that some folks ventured out and found good fishing.
In particular, A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay said that there have been so many small bonito around Wing’s Neck, that some folks are considering them a nuisance, which is pretty amazing considering how many people spend so much effort trying to catch them.
The Scraggy Neck area also saw some incredible bonito action this week, with Evan Eastman at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth relating that he spoke to one angler who was the only one around to enjoy action that lasted for hours.
I suspected that folks were keeping information about the funny fish action up around West Falmouth and Old Silver Beach to themselves and that appears to have been the case, with the word getting back to me that a decent number of king mackerel have been trolled up in these waters. Whether that is still taking place or not, I can’t say for sure, but if you are in the area, it just might be worth the time to drop a few swimmers designed for fast trolling behind the boat or even give the Charter Grade Sliders a shot; I have seen them in action myself and they perform flawlessly in this type of scenario.
Over around Wareham, there is a ton of small bait and that has resulted in some solid schoolie and small bluefish activity, with some bonito mixed in as well.
Overall, there is no lack of small blues in the bay and anglers are enjoying increased bass action up and down the shoreline, whether they are fishing from boat or the shore.
From what I have heard, smaller Epoxy Jigs and Heavy Metal Jigs have been doing the trick this season, with folks reporting that some of the peanut bunker have been as small as their thumbnail.
August 22, 2019 Weekly Rating: Unrated
I know it might be a copout, but there isn’t much to go by when coming up with a rating since everyone is keeping very quiet about the bay.
Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth said some folks have come into the shop and said they have seen boats looking around West Falmouth and Old Silver Beach, which are typically hot bonito and false albacore locations. Last year, a number of king mackerel were also trolled up in these waters using deep diving, plastic minnow lures, with bright colors such as pink and green mackerel productive.
There have also been reports of bonito between Monument Beach and the Maritime Academy as well.
As is true of so many places on the Cape, Buzzards Bay is filled with small bluefish and there are still schoolies popping around the Cape shoreline, especially in the early morning and again in the evening. There is a ton of small bait around, particularly peanut bunker, so flyrodders are doing well with broader profiled patterns with olive and white as major colors, along with pink and yellow tinting and plenty of flash. Poppers are also working well.
Although smaller Hogy Originals and Skinny’s will get you bit, the smaller Hogy Pro Tail Paddle, especially in the Bunker pattern, is an even better choice. The small Hogy Charter Grade Poppers are excellent plugs for working around rocky shorelines and marshy edges, while you can work slightly subsurface with smaller Hogy Charter Grade Sliders if the sun is up and the fish are light shy. Both the .75-ounce popper and 1.5-ounce slider come in Bunker, realistic peanut bunker/pogy coloration.
When you are fishing plugs, it is typically best to “give them their head” by using a loop knot or large enough snap to allow the lure to do what it was designed for, whether swinging its head side to side or digging into to the surface to make a loud pop. When it comes to snaps, I was always a fan of the duo lock snap design, but I have switched over to the new clip style. Just make sure you have the lure pulled all the way to the bottom of a clip.
August 15, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
It should be interesting on Friday if a recremercial crowd shows up at the west entrance in hopes that the bass have moved out of the Canal and are feeding in the wee hours of the morning somewhere, with past feeds happening around the Maritime Academy, Gray Gables/the pilings, Hogy Island, off Widow’s Cove, and as far down as Stony Point Dike.
During those short-lived blitzes, topwater plugs were the ticket, but some folks did well trolling parachutes and wire and even livelining mackerel.
Most of the larger bass were fish that came out of the Canal at the end of the west tide, but there are deeper holes that hold resident fish all summer and they are being caught by folks chunking fresh bait such as mackerel or pogies, or livelining them if they can find them.
Some mornings it has been all schoolies as the bigger stuff stayed in the land cut, so it’s clearly a crapshoot. Then again, the small fish are just fine for the handful of flyrodders who toss baitfish patterns on intermediate lines or poppers on floating string. I imagine you could try and coax something larger with a lead core shooting head and a heavily weighted Half-and-Half during the slower stages of the current, but folks using spin or conventional tackle who prefer to fish artificials have the advantage of using jigs, especially paddletails in the correct weight for the depth and stage of the current.
Tommy over at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay said a buddy of his caught a few nice 20+-inch fluke around the Mashnee Flats, but overall the best ground fishing has been for scup. They’re not the monsters you find during the spawn, but you can pick through enough smaller fish to take some home for a fish fry. This is the time of year when you really need to pay attention to your electronics as they can help you pinpoint concentrations that are more scattered.
Although there have not been any confirmed sightings of bonito or false albacore around the Cape side of upper Buzzards Bay, the waters around Scraggy Neck, Megansett, Old Silver Beach, and West Falmouth are typically funny fish hotspots. In fact, last year, there were a number of king mackerel caught there on the troll. Folks I have spoken to say there is plenty of small bait around, especially peanut bunker, so things should pop soon.
August 8, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Matt Sheehy at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay said that while the Canal has been the big story, on occasion some of the larger fish around the west end have chased mackerel out into the waters from the Maritime Academy to Hogy Island and beyond, but it hasn’t been a guarantee every day. Many folks are jigging up mackerel in the area and livelining them.
Many folks are jigging up mackerel in the area and livelining them, but a boater came into Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth and said that last Saturday he picked up fish to the 30-pound class jigging wire and parachutes.
A.J. Coots from Red Top added that at times there has been a topwater bite similar to what takes place in the spring when the bigger fish start showing up. Big plastic spooks have been very productive at this time, especially in bone.
Hogy Sliders are a very effective trolling lure and their action makes for a perfect imitation of fleeing mackerel.
Matt added that the fluke fishing is definitely picking up, especially around the 11 and 13 cans outside of Onset. Quality summer flatties in 21 to 23-inch range are being caught, with some doormats in the mix as well. While bucktail jigs tipped with an assortment of squid strips, sand eels, silversides, and other baitfish are a fluke staple, there is also a heavily dressed jig that features a rubber skirt similar to what is used on a freshwater spinnerbait that is really catching on.
There are schools of three to five-pound bluefish around, but no reports of funny fish yet. That said, it’s hard to imagine that the combination of warm water and plenty of small bait, including peanut bunker, won’t have them showing around soon.
When preparing frozen bait for use, remember to thaw it in a bucket of sea water and then put it in a slurry made of crushed ice and more sea water. Simply leaving it out to thaw on its own will only result in a pile of mushy bait that will be difficult, if not impossible, to keep on the hook.
August 1, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Jeff Hopwood from Maco’s in Buzzards Bay and Monument Beach said that folks are catching fluke around the edges of the Canal and the west entrance of the land cut, with some good-sized ones in the mix such as the 8-pounder he caught last weekend outside of Onset. Limits of larger fish are tough to come by and there are far more sublegal fish, but the action has been consistent.
While squid, especially locally caught squid, is a fluke fishing staple, Jeff mentioned that he also sells frozen smelts, sand eels, and silversides. When properly cared for (thawed in a mixture of salt water and crushed ice) and kept out of the sun, these baits can be used as part of a “fluke sandwich,” which can include a strip of squid, a mummichog, and even an artificial bait such as a Gulp! Swimming Mullet. The key here is that big baits typically keep the small fish away and attract the larger ones.
During the tail end of the west current (outgoing) in the Canal, some schools of fish that were in the land cut have moved out into the west entrance around the Maritime Academy and Gray Gables, as well as Hog Island to the Stony Point Dike. These are big fish that are following baitfish such as mackerel, pogies, and even squid, but once the current switches back east, the bass move right back into the Canal, giving boaters a short window of opportunity. Some anglers are trolling tubes, but chunk baits and large subsurface glider and multi-jointed plugs are generally more effective.
There are also schools of small bass and blues feeding on peanut bunker in Monument Beach, Jeff said, and it’s possible to look for terns and find more of them in open water from the west entrance down to Quissett.
But perhaps the biggest news came courtesy of Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth who told me that Charley Soares reported there were bonito and false albacore off New Bedford and it is a short run from there to the Cape shoreline.
With peanut bunker already showing in upper Buzzards Bay, along with concentrations of other small baits such as sand eels and silversides, and reports of funny fish to our west, it’s time to make sure you are properly stocked for funny fish season. For me, that means carrying several boxes of assorted sizes and colors of Epoxy Jigs and Heavy Minnow Jigs. Albies and bones can change their preference in color or size in minutes and it pays to be prepared. When they’re on peanuts, Hogy has you covered with E-Jigs, Sliders, and Pro Tail Paddles in highly imitative bunker coloration, as well as the highly successful Peanut Bunker Jig.
July 25, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Bottom fishing is slower, there are simply small concentrations of larger bass that are moving constantly with the tide, and even small bass and bluefish aren’t that prevalent, making fishing in the bay a challenge at this time of year.
Last weekend, a school of bass herded mackerel out into open water from the Maritime Academy to Stony Point Dike and then kept them there, resulting in some really solid action.
One angler who was there came in and told Evan Eastman at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth that he had caught around 100 bass, with 40 of them what he called “keepers.”
Bruce Miller said that the boaters have been using mackerel swimmers, with some opting for the smaller, 7.5-inch size to mimic the size of the bait, which have generally been in the spike to tinker range.
Apparently, there has not been a repeat of that craziness since, with one plugger who fishes the west entrance on a regular basis telling Jim Young at Eastman’s that he had only one good day recently using big walk-the-dog plugs, which typically aggravate enough big bass to make for a good trip.
Most boaters looking for sea bass have moved down Buzzards Bay to the waters south of Cuttyhunk or in Vineyard Sound from the northside of the Vineyard out to Noman’s.
The fluke bite has been spotty, with the better summer flattie anglers making a couple of drifts in an area before moving elsewhere if they don’t hook up. Fluke are structure fish and if you work an area without results, there is little reason to hope that a different stage of tide will bring them in.
There has been no confirmed word of king mackerel around North and West Falmouth as there was last year, but this is about the time they showed up last year. Kingfish, as they are called down south, have a nasty set of dentures, so make sure you are familiar with the proper knots to tie your braid or mono main line to a trace of wire or heavy fluorocarbon. Trolling is most popular on the Cape for king mackerel and using a loop knot on your plugs is a good idea since a shiny piece of hardware will often result in a cut off since mackerel love shiny objects and will hit a swivel or snap that gives off a glint in the water. That’s why coffee colored or dull finish wire is the way to go.
July 18, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Groundfishing remains the best bet in the bay right now, especially in the waters from Bourne to Falmouth. You are most likely to encounter schoolies if you toss soft plastics or plugs in the hours before sunup. The scup and sea bass are definitely smaller around the Old Canal and off Wing’s Neck and Scraggy Neck, with the fluke bite OK on the Mashnee Flats.
As is often the case at this point in the summer, the waters from Fairhaven to New Bedford and Westport produce the largest bass in upper Buzzards Bay.
If the bait around the west end of the Canal moves out into open water from Onset to the end of Stony Point Dike, then livelining pogies, mackerel, or eels is a popular way to target any larger fish holding deep around structure.
You are most likely to encounter schoolies if you toss soft plastics or plugs in the hours before sunup, but Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth spoke to a plug angler who had been doing well using big spooks in the waters leading up to the Canal, both in the early morning and again from dusk into darkness.
The scup and sea bass are definitely smaller around the Old Canal and off Wing’s Neck and Scraggy Neck, with the fluke bite OK on the Mashnee Flats.
Unlike parts of the season where you can concentrate on finding fish by looking for birds in open water, summer is more of a structure time around upper Buzzards Bay. Whether you are fishing from shore or boat, rock hopping is relaxing as you select pieces of structure to toss plastics and plugs at and concentrate on making your offering act just so. And every fish is a surprise and a treat at the same time.
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.