For boaters, the bay just seems to be filled with bass everywhere you look, including some larger bass in the mid-30-pound class.
Outside the east end of the Canal, some of the mackerel are so large that Bruce Miller watched as an osprey struggled to get airborne after picking up one in its talons. Finding the schools of macks and using sabiki rigs to catch some, followed by livelining, has been productive, but Bruce is a proponent of trolling bunker spoons on wire line to get down to where some of the larger bass are holding.
Livelining is a way of life around Barnstable Harbor once the mackerel begin to concentrate out around the bell; there are numerous holes and dropoffs where this method is particularly productive. Wireline jigging with green parachute jigs is preferred by those who don’t want to deal with gathering bait.
Early morning tide changes are producing some excellent surface activity from just outside Blish Point to East Bar and the flats that stretch to the east. Generally, these bass will be feeding on sand eels, making Arkansas Shiner, white/pearl, and bubblegum soft plastic stickbaits an excellent choice; they can be fished unweighted on an offset worm hook or a swimbait hook when working the flats or you can switch over to a weighted swimbait hook as the tide rises and the surface activity quiets, but you can see the fish on the bottom. Small 1/8 to 3/8 ounce jigheads also produce fish when paired up with plastics between 3.5 and 6-inches in shallow water, but increasing the weight of your offering is something to keep in mind when casting into deeper water.
Early, early mornings (we’re talking well before first light and up to just when the sun cracks the horizon) will see some larger bass move into the stretch just west of the entrance channel to the harbor proper, as well as the edges of the marshes behind Sandy Neck and the marshes and creeks from Mill Creek to Bass Hole. Walk-the-dog plugs are a top choice, as are Bombers and metal lip swimmers, but large soft plastics such as the Hogy 10-inch Original in black are an excellent choice as well.
There are mackerel off of Sesuit Harbor and you can concentrate on livelining them or concentrate on fishing paddletails such as the Hogy Pro Tail Paddle; these are a great choice when the fish are on larger baits, while the Eel Tail model is an excellent sand eel imitator.
Open water fishing is still wide open from Brewster to Billingsgate and from Wellfleet up to the Race; finding the birds just might be the most difficult part of this fishing. Concentrating on the structure of the shoals will pay dividends as the sand eels pile up there, making everything from Clousers and Half-and-Half’s to soft plastics and Hogy Epoxy Jigs in a variety of colors to using wire line with either parachute jigs or umbrella rigs a good choice at times.
If you fish the waters from Wood End to the Race, you can expect crowds and people using a wide range of methods, but that’s the tradeoff is you want to get a shot at the stacks of bass there. Vertical jigging with Pro Tails, Epoxy Jigs, Sand Eel Jigs, or Deep Minnow Jigs is a lot more fun and far more effective when you locate a school of fish and can accurately present your offering right to them. Just make sure you are using a lure with enough weight for the current and depth you are fishing.
Beach anglers continue to catch stripers on plugs at Sunken Meadow and Wellfleet, with Connie at Blackbeard’s in Eastham mentioning yellow stickbaits as one hot item according to some folks she spoke to this morning. Bluefish have yet to move, meaning you can also fish chunk mackerel on the bottom without fear of getting cut off, with sand eels another good bait to use.
Wade anglers working the tides from Paine’s Creek down the Brewster Flats are catching plenty of nice bass; you’ll see plenty of white/bone/pearl or bubblegum soft plastics being use, but topwater plugs at first light and swimmers at night can produce some of the largest bass. For flyrodders, while it is tempting to use some sort of sand eel pattern since there are large schools of this baitfish around, think outside the box and recall that stripers often come onto the flats to eat crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans.
Soaking seaworms is a favorite around Sandy Neck, while big wood such as pencil poppers and Polaris’s cast from the beaches flanking the entrances to Scorton and Old Harbor can pay dividends in the morning as stripers in the area herd the mackerel and other baitfish up against the beach.