Paul Newmier provided a pretty good idea of how good things are in the bay right now; a charter captain out of Rock Harbor who has been fishing the area for 20+ years told Paul that he put out a couple of umbrella rigs a short ways out after leaving the harbor and immediately had two bass on each rig, between 43 and 48-inches. Since he had four people on board, that meant they were done with their limit post haste and spent the rest of the trip tossing plugs and practicing catch-and-release.
He also told Paul that he experienced something he had never seen as there were bass pushing bait and surrounding his boat; the mackerel they were feeding on took to hiding under the hull and when he put her in gear, the macks were flushed out and the stripers were bouncing off the stern as they went after the baitfish.
The word is that this type of action has been available from Billingsgate to Provincetown and around to the Golf Ball. Many of the largest fish have been taken on live mackerel, but anglers using jigs heavier enough to get down deep have been doing well as well. The mackerel often have the sand eels balled up on the surface and the bass are doing the same, although generally they are on the smaller side – if you call 30 to 36-inch fish small. The style of weighted soft plastic doesn’t seem to matter, as Paddle Tails have been just was effective as eel/sand eel styles, with folks reporting that Hogy Pro Tails, SE Barbarian Jigs, and Harness Jigs have all been working. One key has been to keep a variety of weights on hand so you can get down to where the fish are holding if things become quiet up top.
The Brewster Flats are also producing some big fish and they were in their less finicky phase, so plan things accordingly. Soft plastics in bubblegum are always a favorite, but white or bone also work well. Topwater plugs such as Zara Spooks, Rebel Jumpin’ Minnows, and other walk-the-dog versions are productive, as are pencil poppers, particularly early in the morning; after dusk, most anglers shift over to shallower running swimming plugs such as Bombers, Daiwa SP Minnows, and Red Fins.
Paul said those plugs are also good choices for fishing the bayside beaches from Sunken Meadow to Duck Creek to Corn Hill, where the water is too shallow for anything that runs much deeper. He had just finished selling sand eels to a group of anglers who have been working the beaches and managed mostly 30 to 34-inch bass, but there has been one bass reported around 43-inches and 25-pounds from the beaches.
Over around Barnstable, Jeff Clabault spoke to one angler who did well livelining mackerel, with his top fish measuring 44-inches, and another boater’s best bass topped out at 37-inches. The mackerel are all sizes right now, meaning that even just legal fish are able to take the smaller ones.
Bruce Miller emphasized that if you can’t find the schools of mackerel outside the east end of the Canal, then trolling bunker spoons or using heavy paddletail plastics around the schools of bass is an effective alternative.
Jeff fished inside earlier this week from the shore and only managed schoolies to 18-inches on a spook style plug, although he did have a swing-and-miss from what appeared to be a larger bass.
Around the Sandwich creeks, there are schoolies pretty much from the mouth all the way up to 6A, with a few larger fish caught on mackerel along the beaches that surround Old Harbor and Scorton, as well as Sandy Neck.
The winter flounder fishing remains excellent off of Sesuit over to Orleans, with Paul managing to limit out on each of his trips this season – and other boats around but his buddy.