Commercial striped bass season opened yesterday and the word from most local tackle shops is that eels are in high demand; one shop even tried to order more from his supplier, who was out of snakes. There has been no mention so far this year concerning the use of eels around Provincetown, which was where there were somewhere between 250 to 400 boats at dawn, with many, many “commercials” fishing well before the opening at 12:01 AM. Reports are wildly varied among the commercials and recreational boats alike, with one of the former getting one 32-inch fish and others having no problem getting their 15-fish quota; overall, it was tough finding fish where two days ago it was solid fish as far down as your sonar could go. There are fish to 40-pounds around and plenty of photos of big bass from the charterboat crew, but with that much pressure, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to fish out that stock. Vertical jigging definitely was the top ticket among the recreational crew this week and some boats are electing to run down the backside to get away from the crowd.
Elise Costa said she went out in the snot on Sunday and didn’t have to go farther than the north edge of Billingsgate where she picked up bass over 40-inches trolling blue Bombers on mono. Right up on the shoals and along the southern edge, there were incredible numbers of smaller fish up to the high 20-inch class willing to take unweighted soft plastics and the olive Standard Issue Epoxy Jigs really worked well. It was interesting to see folks tossing huge soft plastics and plugs at bass surface feeding on the huge masses of sand eels.
Around Barnstable, folks are still livelining mackerel; we found big schools of tinkers and spikes on the flats to the east of the harbor; they were pushing water and looked like bonefish. There were bass underneath and again the olive Epoxy Jigs did the trick; these are perfect fly rod and light tackle fish. I know there will be some folks out there who will criticize my use of really light line (six pound test) and matching rods and reels on these fish, but frankly it takes no longer to get the fish in once I instruct folks on proper fish fighting techniques – and it’s a lot more fun than dragging the bass across the surface.
Trolling SP Minnows and Bombers has been working for folks trolling between Barnstable and Sandwich, with fish up to 47-inches reported. There are fish between the Fingers and Barnstable as well. From shore, anglers putting their time in at night have been catching bass in the 20 to 24-inch range along Sandy Neck tossing plugs such as the Yo-zuri Mag Minnow. It’s mainly schoolies inside the Sandwich creeks, but an occasional legal fish has been caught on, especially on swimming plugs or eels.