The fishing in and around the bay continues to be as good as it gets, with a wide variety of techniques catching bass.
Starting at the east entrance to the Canal, out to the CC Buoy, there are schools of mackerel and that means livelining, vertical jigging, and bunker spoons. These fish are not inclined to work their way up into the upper water column, so the Hogy Pro Tail Paddle can be a very effective choice. As is the case with a good portion of the fishing in the bay, having good electronics is a huge advantage because if you can mark the schools of bait accurately, then the odds are you going to find the bass.
Around Barnstable Harbor, it’s your typical early June story: run out into the bay, typically around the Bell, sabiki up some mackerel, and run back into the harbor to your favorite hole or edge and start drifting and livelining. There are spots that produce all the way from in front of the Sandy Neck colony to Beach Point and from the dropoff where Mill Creek dumps into the channel and all the way to the inside of East Bar. Anchoring up and interfering with a popular drift will not get you many friends.
A few diehards continue to troll wire and either use dark green or chartreuse parachute jigs or umbrella rigs.
With the turn to incoming water in the early morning through sunrise this weekend and with a full moon tomorrow, there will be a lot of water moving in and out of the bay and onto the east flats and creeks around from Mill to Bass Hole, as well as in front of Sandy Neck. This could make for some great topwater activity, with a mix of everything from 12-inch mini-bass all the way to 30+-inch fish chowing on sand eels. Typically, sand eel, bone, and bubblegum soft baits are at the top of the list; they can fished at different stages of the tide easily be simply adding or subtracting weight from your rig. If you prefer plugging the holes, troughs, and creek channels, working spook-style plugs can produce some great blow-ups.
The same game plan that is used when fishing the shallows around Sandy Neck and Barnstable/Yarmouth can be employed on any of the flats from east of Sesuit down to Orleans. Most folks refer to this wide stretch of sand as the Brewster Flats, making it a challenge to even get a sense of where they found fish. With incoming water in the early morning and again at dusk, it will be possible to find bass staging off the flats and waiting to follow the channels in so they can begin to feed. Sand eels obviously provide readily available forage, but crab, shrimp, and generally buggy, crustacean-looking flies work well, too.
It makes sense that sand eel imitating soft plastics work here, but using larger models, including the seven to 10-inch Original Hogy’s, have produced for me when used on incoming water. These can be tossed well away from the boat or where you are wading; that can make a huge difference since with every passing day of more and more boats and anglers harassing them, these bass get smart and finicky pretty fast. Ultimately, sight fishing is a lot of fun, but some of the best catches are made at night by anglers experienced in how the water operates here.
You’re going to hear a great deal about Billingsgate and for good reason: there are lots of bass there. Falling water has produced some great surface activity, with one of the challenges getting through all of the 20 to 24-inch bass to the larger stripers hanging below their friskier brethren. For flyrodders that can mean a fast sink line and a more heavily weighted fly, while using weighted soft plastics or any number of jigs. I have done really well with the ¾ to 2-ounce SE Barbarian Jigs, the Hogy Pro Tail Eels from one to two ounces, and Epoxy Jigs from 7/8 to two ounces. Obvious color choices include anything olive, bone, or glow, but the silver Epoxy’s did very well for me last year as their action combined with the extra flash made them stand out among the clouds of sand eels. Remember that most of the charter boats who fish this area employ wire line and weighted lures to get down to the larger fish and pay attention to lure weight as the tide moves in and out, as well as when you decide to drop off the flats into deeper water when the fishing quiets.
Although it certainly is an ideal scenario to find feeding fish and birds all to yourself somewhere between Wellfleet and Provincetown, but the odds are that unless you are adept at using radar to find the birds or have encountered this kind of action on previous trips and have those numbers punched in or are familiar with areas of the bay that feature bottom changes such as humps, holes, and edges, you will eventually find yourself joining the fleet that has been concentrated from Race Point to the Golf Balls.
The direction of the current usually determines where the bait and fish are concentrated, but remember that even when the masses move off, there can still be schools of bass around and you can enjoy some relatively alone time. And that’s a real bonus, since so many boats employing a myriad of methods from wire line jigging to vertical jigging to fly fishing to livelining and even tossing topwater plugs can make for an Excedrin moment. And working the lobster pot line and watching your sonar/fishfinder is always a good place to start, whether you approach from the Pamet or down Nauset way.
The bay beaches have been producing fish and smiles, advised Connie LaBranche at Blackbeard’s in Wareham; swimmers such as Bombers, Red Fins, and Daiwa SP Minnows are good choices when fishing night tides around Sunken Meadow, Duck Creek, and Corn Hill, with a change to topwaters such as pencil poppers is a common pattern. Sunken Meadow is known for its big bluefish, but as of yet, nobody has mentioned them. If baiting a hook and setting your rod in a sand spike, or even holding it, is your idea of fishing, chunk mackerel or sand eels will be your top two choices, followed by live eels.