The quality of the fishing in the bay is quite good if you’re a recreational angler, with large numbers of bass in the 28 to 32-inch range being taken in many locations.
On the other hand, the “recremercial” sector is struggling to find any significant number of bass over their 34-inch minimum length limit, with most boats catching anywhere from two to four fish per trip.
There are still some mackerel off the east entrance to the Canal, but there are far more bass of size inside the land cut than outside, so a number of boaters are electing to flaunt their disregard the law and drifting in with their live baits as far as the power plant.
Bruce Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore said this isn’t necessary, however, as some big bass are being caught on bunker spoons and Rapala Magnums from the Dump over to the Fingers, as well as around Scorton Ledge on the tube-and-worm, especially red or orange tubes. Bruce explained that this new moon phase typically triggers a worm hatch this time of year on the ledge and that draws more fish to this area, and once the breaking tides in the Canal pass next week, there is a good chance that the fishing will only get better.
A number of shops are reporting increased sales of eels, but this can mean a couple of things: there is either an eel bite going on somewhere or guys are having trouble finding live mackerel, since pretty much any angler who uses live bait would rather get it for free rather than have to pay for it.
Jeff Clabault at Canal Bait & Tackle on Route 130 spoke to a shore angler who did well on bass walking along Sandy Neck while tossing a bucktail and there have been some fish in the mid-30-inch class caught at night on mackerel and sea worms. There is a chance that an increase in shore activity from East Sandwich to Sandy Neck is a precursor to a live eel bite that produced a massive number of sellable bass a couple of years ago, but nothing definite has been reported at the moment.
Around Barnstable Harbor, there are still good numbers of small bass providing lots of fun for light tackle and fly rod anglers, with the change of the tide typically spurring an increase in surface activity. This weekend, low tide is around 7 AM, which sometimes results in a combination of fish flooding onto the flats between East Bar and Chapin Beach, with flocks of birds providing plenty of signs where they are most active.
The charterboats from Barnstable to Rock Harbor and Wellfleet are reporting very little trouble catching limits of recreational size bass for their clients, whether they are snapping wire; trolling umbrella rigs; dragging swimming plugs such as Bombers and Rapalas or spoons like the Huntington Drone; or Hootchies on top of the shoals, said Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham.
The lack of bluefish has folks scratching their heads, as typically by this point in the season there are good numbers being caught on the troll off of Wellfleet and around the Path.
Schools of bass have also been reported moving between the Brewster Flats and Billingsgate, with any surface activity reportedly coinciding with the drop and the turn to incoming. Anglers who have experience fishing the flats in the dark, including just before and up to first light, are catching bass on plugs and soft plastics; it’s common practice to match the hatch when there are sand eels around, but low light conditions have produced some of my largest bass on Original 7- and 10-inch Hogy’s in bubblegum.
Paul added that not many people are fishing the bayside beaches, such as Sunken Meadow and those around the Pamet River. This weekend the preferred incoming to high tide occur after midnight and then again in the early afternoon; the former isn’t really a problem if you don’t mind fishing in the dark, while the easily accessed beaches are closed or limited due to the summer crowds.