The word from Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis is that while there aren’t that many folks looking to charter a boat right now, if someone would like to do, there is no lack of fish out in the bay. While Billingsgate and the Path are slow right now, there is some good fishing to be had closer to shore, especially around the flats and inshore shoals. Trolling small umbrella rigs is a good way to locate fish, Elise advised, at which point you can switch over to lighter tackle, including casting gear, and have a lot of fish. Most of the bass are on the small side, but at times there have been some good-sized bluefish reported from Brewster to Sesuit.
Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in Yarmouth said that the number of schoolies in the bay is just incredible right now. The Brewster flats continue to produce some good sight fishing for more cooperative smaller bass that proved to be more aggressive than the larger stripers that develop lockjaw as summer progresses and they are heavily fished over. Unweighted soft plastics always make a great choice if fly fishing isn’t your thing, with white/bone, Arkansas shiner, bubblegum, and chartreuse good daytime choices. Hogy Skinny’s have typically been my selection in the fall when targeting fish on ultralight, six-pound test outfits; some folks may suggest that this equipment stresses the mini-bass, but anglers can learn an awful lot about how much pressure they can apply as well as proper use of a light stick in terms of angles that confuse the fish and shorten the time it takes to bring a schoolie to hand.
Barnstable Harbor is simply a fantastic fall spot; it rates highly not only because it holds so many small fish, making it great for light tackle and fly rod folks, but there are always just enough big bass and the occasional blue to make things more interesting. Early mornings, especially if they coincide with a tide change, often have fish rising and splashing around as far as the eye can see. In the hours before first light and after dusk, larger bass that are still hanging around will come in to feed on the abundant bait in the marshes and the rocky structure around Scudder Lane and points to the west. Many regulars prefer to target these fish throughout the season with plugs, but 10-inch Original Hogy’s fished unweighted have accounted for many big fish for me over the years.
Around the many grass islands and marsh edges of the Great Marsh and the many flats that stretch from Blish Point in both directions, it is possible to find birds working over small fish that often think they are redfish as they can be seen rooting out bait in inches of water. It’s a lot of fun catching them, with a five or six-weight providing more sport for silly stickers, but just watching them work is worth the trip.
Ben Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 heard from a couple of anglers who picked up legal sized bass from Sandy Neck using mackerel chunks and there have been some pushes of big bluefish as well, but overall there are way more schoolies. Some of the ones his father caught the other night at Old Harbor were in the range of 10 to 12-inches and I imagine that some of them will hang around all winter to provide action for folks who are determined to complete the bass-every-month trick.
Outside the east entrance to the Canal, there are still some schools of mackerel being jigged up and livelined by boaters, explained Bruce Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore. There are bass in the 20 to 25-pound range being caught, but the question in a lot of folks’ minds is whether there will be enough bait to draw in the big bass that are still being caught from Boston Harbor to Plymouth. They basically have two routes to follow: through the Canal or across the bay and around the backside. It should be interesting to see what the next couple of weeks hold.