With the large body of big bass that was holding outside the east entrance to the Canal from the CC Buoy over to the Fingers having followed the schools of mackerel into the land cut, options for the boat crew have definitely taken a downturn in these waters. In addition, Bruce Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore said that there has been no bite to speak of around Scorton Ledge and the parking lot yet.
Well, that’s not completely true as there are some big bluefish tearing up gear in deeper water off of Sandwich, especially around the Fingers.
Shore anglers working the beaches from Town Neck to Scorton Creek have been catching mainly small bass, with an occasional legal fish for folks chunking mackerel or pogies, while seaworms and sand eels are a top producing bait around Sandy Neck.
Down Barnstable Harbor way, there are a ton of small bass around that are perfect for flyrodders and light tackle anglers. Anything that resembles a sand eel is a good place to start, with Arkansas shiner, pearl, and bubblegum colors that will cover most situations in terms of water clarity. That said, chartreuse could make the difference when the water is particularly cloudy. Many boaters prefer to fish the channel, drifting along while jigging a combination of a jighead and a thin profile soft plastic; the Hogy Skinny series is a good place to start and going with a larger bait and a heavier jighead is one way to try and get through all of the schoolies.
The flats/shallows to that stretch from East Bar to Chapin’s Beach continue to hold large numbers of very small bass; at times they are making a ruckus with terns and even a few gulls working over them, especially on the end of the drop and the turn to incoming water. That said, there are numerous channels that intersect the flats and standing on a bar or positioning your boat on the edge and casting into deeper water is very effective; kayakers often paddle out during the drop and fish the turn, but boaters can anchor up, hop out, and enjoy the fun rather than encroaching on those who are wading. As the water rises, flyrodders will sometimes find a sinking line more effective and spin anglers can add some weight to their offering to accomplish the work a bit deeper where the fish are holding.
At this time of year, you will also see a handful of boats trolling the tube-and-worm along the dropoff where the shallows end and as the tide rises, they will move in to fish the same channels that bass and bluefish use as paths when moving between shallower and deeper water.
I heard through a reliable source that the Brewster flats had their moments at times this week, with a number of 40+-inch bass caught on crab patterns. There are plenty of crab and shrimp patterns that mimic the real thing to a T, but some of the most successful flies employ materials that work because of their movement, even when they aren’t being stripped. The myriad number of silicone and rubber legs that are available are perfect for adding to any pattern, while materials such as rabbit, marabou, and long, thin hackles like those used in flat wings are great choices when creating flats flies.
Billingsgate has been slow up on the shoals, with the water having warmed up enough to drive most of the bass into deeper water off the north edge in water between 40 and 50-feet, explained Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham. A good portion of the Rock Harbor boats have been jigging between the Brewster flats and Sesuit and they are picking up some bass in the 20 to 25-pound range, but Paul reported that a number of them have come in to purchase seaworms, indicating a change over to the tube-and-worm.
The bluefish that had a number of the charterboats working from Sunken Meadow to the Path have pretty much disappeared this week, which had Paul confused since when they show up in this stretch they typically stick around and provide action while trolling Hootchies.
Meanwhile, Mike Thomas from M & D’s in Wareham provided a pretty good example of how poor things are up around Provincetown; an angler he knows who sells bass caught 225 stripers the other day to come up with seven fish that met or exceeded the 34-inch commercial limit. That means you can be assured that a lot of gaff-and-release is being practiced due to frustration and a wanton disregard for the resource. In the long run, belly gaffing short fish is an affront to any angler who fishes for bass.
Elise Costa from The Powderhorn advised that some bluefish are being caught out around the southwest corner of Stellwagen. With bluefish around, many boats are fishing them under kites, while anyone lucky enough to find a good number of mackerel have a prime bait as well. It is not uncommon for these fish to occasionally blow deep into the bay, with Bruce Miller reporting that they have been seen as close in as the Fingers.