Pretty much everywhere you look in the bay, there are striped bass to be caught; the only challenge is figuring out where there are larger fish, if that is your goal.
If you’re a light tackle or fly guy and aren’t overly concerned with the size of the fish you are catching, then Barnstable Harbor can’t be beat. There are just absolutely a ton of schoolies along the edges of the outer bars, inside from the Great Marsh over the Sandy Neck salt marshes, and around Horseshoe Bar. If you can time an early morning turn to the outgoing, you will find yourself surrounded by surface feeding fish.
Shore anglers working the waters around Scudder Lane and Rendezvous Lane have been mainly picking up smaller bass, but with an apparent flush of larger bass moving into the outer stretches of the harbor, there is a very good chance that tossing big soft plastics, swimmers, and spooks before first light will produce something larger. Boaters can drift this same stretch from Calves Pasture to Blish Point, or they can elect to work the bars and marsh edges behind Sandy Neck on a high dropping tide, again before first light.
The same is true right now on the flats to the east of East Bar and around the inside creeks, with some great sight fishing and the very real possibility of picking up some larger stripers when they come in to feed on the shoals of sand eels and crabs. Although it might seem counterintuitive when the fish are feeding on small bait, but tossing topwater plugs such as spooks, including the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow, Heddon Zara and Super Spooks, and Rapala X-Raps and Skitterwalks will often get a big response. The same is true with choosing soft plastics; small fish love small Skinny’s, but going with seven or ten-inch Originals in white or bubblegum can work on larger bass in the area.
I ran into a small boat angler at the Blish Point ramp around noon yesterday and he had done very well using chunk mackerel, unlike the vast number of boats that run out of the harbor to get live mackerel and then fly back in to fish their favorite holes and drifts. He said the mackerel were so thick yesterday that he managed to jig up enough to last him all season. His largest fish this season has been 35-pounds and I saw a number of boats with rods that appeared to be bent over by larger fish.
Billingsgate Shoal is fishing really well right now; I fished there with Jeannine and Jim Leffel on Thursday and on the beginning of the incoming tide there were fish of all sizes erupting on sand eels and the bottom was paved with fish as well. They managed plenty of nice bass on Epoxy Jigs, Barbarian Jigs, and small soft plastics rigged on Hogy’s 1/8 and ¼ ounce Classic Jig Heads. These jig heads provide a bit of extra casting distance and have hooks that not only pair up well with slender small soft plastics, but feature super strong hooks that stand up to big bass.
Paul Newmier from Blackbeard’s in Eastham also reported that boat fishing from the target ship up to Stony Bar have been picking up bass to the mid-30-inch class.
I have heard good reports from the waters off the Brewster Flats and there were a number of boats working there yesterday, but with high water and a good amount of chop in the afternoon, sight fishing on the flats was impossible and we got no reaction tossing spooks and bigger Hogy’s around the grass patches in the area. With the right tide and conditions, however, I have received a number of emails reporting that there are plenty of fish there.
The jig and topwater bite up around Provincetown has been consistently good and there are still some nice schools of mackerel in the area. Paul Newmier from spoke to a friend who was planning on going out for some haddock earlier this week, but his plans changed with all the fog. He did manage a 43-inch bass amongst several others north of the Race.
Paul said the bayside beaches are also producing bass, including smaller legal-size bass, mainly on bait, with topwater plugs effective in the morning off of Sunken Meadow and sand eel imitations a good choice around the Pamet.
The one thing I can tell you is that if the Doc musky plug was a secret at one time, it isn’t anymore; I have seen boats tossing them from one end of Cape Cod Bay to the other. I have even seen some boats tossing them around the east entrance to the Canal as opposed to most anglers who are livelining mackerel or using jigs like the Savage Sand Eel; those latter techniques have been producing some nice bass, according to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore.