Provincetown remains on fire, with 40+-inch bass being caught pretty much by anyone who can mark where the schools of fish are (try the lobster pot line) and then drop a metal or Epoxy Jig on their heads, as well as heavily weighted sand eel flies fished on fast sink lines and thin profiled soft plastics rigged on heavy enough jigheads to get down to where the bass are holding. The key to success is making your offering look natural, but at the same time stand out around all of the real, wriggling stuff. When the current is moving well, there are schools of fish on top and they are not reluctant to hit white or yellow pencil poppers, both solid color and those with red heads, and needlefish; unfortunately, the treble hooks used on plugs do a great deal of damage to fish when practicing catch-and-release since they are typically yanked out of the water and dropped on the deck of the boat, where a wrestling match ensues during the attempt to remove the hooks. Simply put, single hook soft plastics, whether you like swimbait style or traditional offset worm hooks, are cleaner and easier on the fish; it is possible to lean over the side of the boat, hold the fish by the lip, and pop the hook right out without removing it from the water.
And if you want to take advantage of this action, you had better do so as commercial bass season starts Thursday, June 23 and runs until the 869+ thousand pound quota is reached. Now, given that the large majority of bass that are being caught up around Provincetown and around the backside to Truro meet the minimum commercial size limit of 34-inches, you can pretty much guess where every yahoo who calls himself a commercial bass fisherman will be. Although fishing is limited to Monday’s and Thursday’s, you can count on folks racking and stacking fish on non-fishing days when they get on them since there is no guarantee that they will be able to find anything on open days.
Billingsgate has been hot-and-cold; the charter boats dragging the tube-and-worm or umbrella rigs have had more success since they have been able to cover more ground when things are slow. Low water is seeing some fish become more active on top, following the large schools of sand eels, making thinner profiled topwater plugs such as needlefish and pencil poppers popular, although soft plastics with the profiles similar to Hogy’s are meant for this type of fishing.
The flats from Brewster to Sesuit are holding some really big bass, but they are tough to coax to the fly or plastic when the sun is high, and forget about trying to pursue one of these schools of bass. You’re better off anchoring near the pathways that these fish take onto and off the flats; they can be so spooky that they will react to the movement of your rod, especially fly rods, so practicing a lower profile, side warm presentation is a good idea. Once advantage that spin anglers have is that they can cast much farther than fly rodders and get hits farther from the boat, whereas a 40-foot cast means you have about two or three strips before a fish sees the boat and shies away. If you find that the fish are tracking your offering but not committing, try to get it down to their level or on the bottom so they aren’t looking up and seeing you.
Barnstable is OK, but a good number of the larger bass that were there have moved on. A few nice fish are being caught in the wee hours of the morning before first light and the flats are generally filled with mini-schoolies that will generally intercept your fly or lure when a big fish is being tentative and just inspecting it.
Sandy Neck and the Sandwich creeks are mainly producing schoolies, including the 10 to 12-inch twinkies that so many people are seeing all over the Cape. Wading anglers are also enjoying pretty consistent action on small fish up inside Scorton and Old Harbor, as well as along the edges of the channel into Barnstable on east and west bars.