The word from Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis is that the pressure from the commercial fleet that descended on the waters from Herring Cove to Race Point and down to the Golf Balls has stirred up the schools of bass and so far they have yet to settle down into one area.
Since they are moving around so much, there is no rhyme or reason as to why some folks are catching and some are scratching, meaning that a myriad of lures and methods are being used: trolling Magic Swimmers, vertical jigging, livelining mackerel, and drifting eels are all being used with varying degrees of success.
Paul Newmier reported that his buddy went out last Sunday in preparation for commercial season and there were miles of bass along the backside, but come Monday, they weren’t making their presence known in such great numbers. There was no real surface activity to speak of, and although it wasn’t uncommon to mark fish, getting them to eat was another story.
Around Billingsgate and up around the Path, the Rock Harbor crew are trolling umbrella rigs with a spoon as the stinger or bouncing orange or red hair jigs along the bottom on wire, creating puffs of sand that imitate crabs scurrying on the bottom. When I asked Elise what has been the best option, she replied, “They’re doing whatever they have to do to catch fish and that pretty much changes almost day-to-day.”
There are still schools of fish on top throughout the shoals on the dropping tide, but on some days they have been more up-and-down than they were in the early season. A good number of the bass being caught by casters up on the shoals have been caught on sand eel imitation soft plastics fished on small jigheads, while silver Epoxy Jigs and Standard Issue Sand Eel Jigs have been effective in the deeper water when vertically jigged. Some of the best action has been well east, closer to Wellfleet.
Bluefish have also shown up in the bay, Paul said, with boaters doing well on good-sized fish off Sunken Meadow and around the Path, while shore anglers have been working the tides so that they can get into the water and increase the distance they can cover.
A few blues are also showing up on the Brewster Flats and near Paine’s Creek, but generally folks are targeting bass, which unfortunately are becoming far spookier with all the boat pressure thereabouts. Crabby, shrimpy kind of flies are often outfishing sand eel patterns for the flyrodders while some folks I spoke with have suggested that the fish on the flats, particularly the large ones, have wised up to the loads of soft plastics thrown at them. Some of the best fishing has been in the early morning on plugs such as Bombers and Daiwa SP Minnows, as well as spook types worked very slowly; there are a number of hardcores that work the flats at night, but they have a great deal of familiarity with these waters.
There are still good numbers of mackerel in the bay and Sheila Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore reported that they weighed in a 36-pound bass for a young angler that was caught on a livie. Some folks stick with dark green jigs dragged on wire and a few really nice fish have been caught this season by folks casting jighead/soft plastic combinations or full sink lines and sand eel imitations on the fly rod.
Not to be outdone are the waters around the east entrance to the Canal; Jeff Miler said that weighed in a 51-pound bass for a lady angler last Sunday that was caught on a live mackerel and Jeff emphasized that isn’t the only big fish they have weighed in from these waters. Mackerel pattern Magic Swimmers and Stick Shadds have been a good alternative for anglers who prefer to fish artificials, with Savage’s and Al Gag’s in both white and mackerel picking up larger fish that are holding below the main school of smaller bass.