There’s plenty to report about the bay this week, but the most exciting is the presence of good numbers of surface feeding bluefin out around Stellwagen Bank. According to Matt Rissell, who was filming with Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters this week, these fish were often feeding on what are generically called halfbeaks, which include the Atlantic saury, which are commonly found in our waters, as well as ballyhoo, which are associated with more southern climates. When tuna are feeding on these baitfish, they are generally moving very quickly to keep up with these slender fish that are often skipping out of the water, requiring a fast, accurate cast. The new Hogy Charter Grade Slider has proven to be very effective in these circumstances, as shown in the newest video on the Salty Cape website that Matt shot and produced. These are tough plugs with tuna grade hooks and hardware and they are really affordable as opposed to lures made by many other companies whose lures have gained popularity with the tuna casting crew.
As has been the case for several weeks, the quality and number of stripers that you can expect to catch in the bay is pretty much determined by whether you are fishing to the east or west of a line drawn approximately from Barnstable Harbor out to the Fingers.
To the west, the word from Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore is that boaters casting live eels in the dark have been catching bass up to the 30 and 40-pound class in tight to the beaches from the Sandwich creeks to Sandy Neck. There aren’t huge schools of fish as there were a couple of years ago, but there are enough to keep things interesting. As opposed to just using side scan sonar to locate them and then toss out eels, Bruce advised that some of the more successful anglers have been setting up longer drifts and casting eels as they go along.
The tube-and-worm is catching some big fish in tight to the beaches as well as around Scorton Ledge; Jeff Clabault at Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 in Sandwich spoke to an angler who did well this week, catching bass of 42 and 39-inches on one trip and following that up with 40 and 36-inch stripers two days later. He was using pink tubes, but red and orange have also been effective colors.
I spoke to my nephew, Frank, who went out of Barnstable with a buddy and despite managing to jig up some live mackerel, as well as what are apparently juvenile bonito that are about eight inches long, they came up empty fishing outside the harbor and over towards Sandwich. There are plenty of small bass throughout Barnstable Harbor and in the shallows to the east and west, especially in the early morning or evening, especially on the beginning and tail end of the tide.
Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait and Tackle in Yarmouth told me that an angler fishing from the beach in front of Day’s Cottages in Truro caught some of those small bonito and they have been caught from Sandy Neck as well.
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham spoke to a couple of charter captains, one from Wellfleet and the other Rock Harbor, and they reported relatively slow activity on bass from Billingsgate to the Path. One managed a single small recreational legal fish on back-to-back trips, with a number of schoolies as well. Paul said that methods being employed the most include the (umbrella) rig and the (wire line) jig.
Bluefish remain spotty, with a few caught around Sunken Meadow one day, bringing with them some hope that there will be a consistent bite, but the next day it is dead.
Paul did speak with a couple of anglers who fished on a headboat out of Provincetown and they did well casting to bluefish up around Herring Cove, to the point where they were going back the next day. At times, vertical jigging has produced some bass, along with livelining mackerel.
Throughout the bay, there are reports of small bonito being caught by boaters, with the emphasis on small.
According to Jeff, shore anglers are catching schoolies inside the Sandwich creeks on flies, soft plastics, and topwater plugs, with most of the sand people working the waters around Sandy Neck have been using bait such as seaworms and cut mackerel.
Early mornings have seen some fish caught on topwater plugs from Scorton Creek to the Canal as well.