Cape Cod Bay Fishing Reports

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- October 6, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

When it’s my last report of the season, it’s always a good thing to be able to offer a positive rundown of what has been happening since it increases the odds that it will continue and perhaps even get better.

As for the weather this weekend, well, that’s another story.

Heading into the second week of October, the bass are definitely on the move and according to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, that includes some very large fish out in the bay. From White Cliffs to Spring Hill, folks trolling the tube-and worm have been dealing in big numbers – of fish and size. Red has been the hot color, but if dragging line behind a boat isn’t your thing, Bruce added that tossing white paddletails in the morning and evening has been productive. Meanwhile, folks fishing from the beaches – especially around the Sandwich creek entrances – has been paying off for folks using bucktails or bait, especially seaworms. 

The word from Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis – the Osterville store is closed for the season – is that fishing inside Barnstable Harbor has been excellent for boaters tossing topwater plugs and soft plastics in the morning, with lots of schoolies up to slot fish for the most part, while shore folks have been catching bass of all sizes at night along Sandy Neck. Seaworms and chunk baits will work, but live eels well after sundown is one good way to target the largest fish in the area.

Speaking of snakes, Jay Hopwood from Maco’s in Buzzards Bay spoke of a “not eel bite at night off of Sandwich.” Shore folks will get their shots at certain stages of the tide, but boaters are enjoying more consistent action as the schools of larger fish are hanging a quarter mile or so off the sand. 

As I predicted, the flats from Chapin’s to Orleans have been filled with bass, mainly schoolies making all kinds of noise as they hem in peanut bunker, baby river herring, and sand eels on the edges of channels/troughs up against the bars; Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters reported that a group of flyrodders from Denmark had a great trip this morning with over 30 schoolies in all.

The waters up towards Truro and Provincetown are also holding good numbers of bluefish, including some especially large ones, and there are schools of larger bass around as well with jigging and umbrella rigs doing well, while early morning tides have seen some fish on top before the high sunshine and heat of the last couple of days drives them down. Again, if you mark fish deep in the water column, offerings like the Hogy Pro Tail Paddles and Eels are excellent choices; a good tip that Capt. Mike has shown in many of his videos is to keep the line running through your fingers to feel any slack or loss of tension as a fish picks up or moves up from below a jig to grab it. This can be very subtle and something that good jig anglers understand as they pay attention throughout the drop on a jig, rather than mindlessly letting it go through the water column.

Make sure to match the weight of your jig to the depth of the water and speed of the current since if it is too light, it will plane or “scope out,” thereby causing you to lose contact and miss hits. If you don’t have jighead/plastic combinations that are heavy enough, then switching over to styles like the Hogy Epoxy, Heavy Metal Jigs, or Sand Eel Jigs is a smart play. 

The commercial boats that have managed to get out this week apparently aren’t finding the giant bluefin deep in the bay; instead, according to Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay, they have moved well up to the northern stretches of Stellwagen Bank where there is more bait. That said, if you find schools of bluefish, there is always the chance that tuna will be on them. Being able to identify schools of mackerel or sea herring on your electronics, especially if they are holding near the bottom, can make a huge difference in getting bait; it’s also the same story if you need to jig up local groundfish in the area such as whiting, small cod, or pollock to use as bait.

Oh, I almost forgot; there have been schools of albies all the way from just outside the east entrance to the Canal all the way up to P’town as they follow the tide and bait.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

After a brief lull in fishing action and a lack of boating activity do to a lingering stretch of foul winds from easterly quadrants, the Monomoy boats have returned to the rips and are catching plenty of bass, said Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters. While many charterboats opt for either jigging wire or stemming the tide and drifting flies and other lures back into the white water on lead core or braid, Jake emphasized that casters are doing equally well with topwater plugs and soft plastics. Flyrodders can certainly get in on the bass action, but a large number of them are concentrated on the albie fishing that has been solid from the rips that stretch in all directions spreading out from the point, as well as up around the North Cut. There are bluefish around, but whether you find them on the east or west side of Monomoy, Jake noted that they have been on the smaller side.

On the other hand, the farther up you head towards to Provincetown, the size of the blues grows, with some really big ones off of Race Point; shore and boat anglers are also encountering schools of larger bass that have opted for a trip around the point of the Cape rather than traveling down towards the Canal. One thing to keep in mind is that while squid and sand eels often drive topwater action along the backside, in the fall you will often mark schools of sea herring deeper in the water column – or even some mackerel – the larger bass seek for their high protein content. In those scenarios, the Hogy Flutter Jig is an excellent choice with its broader profile and tantalizing “injured baitfish” action – although I would never fish these waters without carrying some Hogy Epoxy or Sand Eel Jigs in a variety of weights.

While all you pretty much hear about the backside beach fishing are complaints about seals, the few folks who consistently fish from the sand are catching bass on needlefish and Finnish style swimming plugs, as well as live eels. The October new moon is the 14th with the full on the 28th; these are stretches that many beach folk target as the migration of fish along the sand can reach its peak – although the bass can also frustrate by staying outside the longest cast of a shore person. One thing that the sharpies do is keep track of bait movement as they target fish moving in under the cover of darkness to feed on it.

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- September 29, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Hard to believe that this weekend marks the end of September, but given the weather recently, especially a prolonged stretch of winds out of the east/northeast that is predicted to stretch through next Monday with a day of west/southwest on Tuesday before a return to breezes from one of the easterly quadrants again, it should be clear that Mother Nature is giving us a signal. When I woke up yesterday, it was 45-degrees, a continuation of a cooling pattern that should get any angler fired up. 

And any fish, for that matter.

Now, according to Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, only a few boats have gone out into the bay due to the winds and seas, but those that go out “should definitely be able to find bass, especially those that opt for the tube-and-worm from Sandwich to Barnstable. As I was writing this, I had just returned from my daily drive up towards the west entrance of the Canal and the beginning of the heavy rain that was predicted for today and into tomorrow was just beginning and that will probably keep folks tied to their docks and moorings until Sunday, when conditions are expected to improve.

My plan is to fish out of Barnstable on Sunday, mainly because I have spent so little time there this year and it’s a great fall spot as fish pour down towards the Canal and along the shoreline, with baby herring, peanut bunker, and sand eels combining for some great skinny water activity.

I was hoping that Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville – although I believe the latter location is closed for the season – had spoken with one of her regulars who fishes the Barnstable area out of a tin boat, but unfortunately his boat has sprung a leak, never a good thing. 

On the other hand, Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth has heard that shore anglers are catching a good number of bass of all sizes fishing the beaches around Corporation Beach and Sesuit, while Jay Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters reported that the flats to the east have been fishing really well for fly and light tackle anglers. Although larger fish are typically associated with after dark trips, at this time of year with so much bait availability and cooler and greyer conditions often what you will find, the end of the incoming tide and the early stages of the drop can produce epic fishing if you are a boater. Shore anglers who can follow the water right through its latter stages can do even better because they can wade water and edges of channels that no boat can float in.

Moving towards that Canal, Jeff M. said that sand people fishing from Scorton to Town Neck have been getting into larger bass that are again gorging on the large concentrations of bait that are moving big time. This fishing can have a limited window, so don’t hesitate to get out there with topwater plugs, with loaded pencil poppers like his 7-inch Bullet and big spooks – mainly in bone – “putting on a show.”

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

When it comes to the rips, even the operators of larger charterboats have elected not to deal with the seas that are all stirred up, explained Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth. 

The backside beaches are also stirred up, Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters said, with lots of week and sand, and nobody has ventured out to Monomoy or even through the North Cut to fish the east side.

On the other hand, the albie fishing has been good outside of Stage Harbor and along Harding’s Beach, with shore anglers getting decent shots at them, Jake said. There are also some big bass in the wash feeding on crabs; in fact, a spin guy came in and bought some crab flies after watching a fly angler catch some nice fish on a crab pattern while he came up empty.

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- September 22, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

I wish I had some reports from the bay, but it seems that a lot of folks pulled their boats prior to last weekend’s alleged storm and have not been back out this week. Of course, this weekend’s forecast with east/northeast winds and lots of rain won’t get anyone fired up to give it a go. Then there’s the long term forecast that has continued challenging winds out of the same quadrants until next Thursday and heavy rain tomorrow and showers through Tuesday, which again are not encouraging.

On the other hand, the conditions should really kick the fish up north into migration mode – and that’s where the majority of the big fish have been holding, mainly feeding on pogy schools and some mackerel. According to Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay, he heard that boat anglers were catching some nice fish in the Marshfield/Scituate area this week, so he opted to fish up that way on Wednesday and Thursday nights. His goal was to target fish that at times will move into the boulder fields under the cover of darkness, giving shore folks a shot at bigger fish. Well, the first night was pretty quiet, Connor admitted, until he made a plug change and “the fishing was so good that I can’t even describe it. It was just stupid” with every cast for about an hour-and-a-half producing bass from 35-pounds on up. The magic plug? A chartreuse floating 7-inch wooden needlefish, which Connor said he tried “because I was carrying it and I figured it was worth a try since nothing else had worked.”

Between Alarms Charters found some good bass fishing in the bay this week.

Now, most people take a look at a needlefish and have no confidence in one; they are definitely an acquired taste because unlike lipped swimmers, darters, bottle plugs, and other plugs that give off a clear signal about how they are “working” in the water, a needle is typically reeled so slowly with no added rod action that you will feel like there is no contact with it for a good amount of your retrieve. Sometimes, needlefish can be twitched gently, but overall, Connor explained “you have to reel slow as hell; in fact, if you’re having a good time fishing one, you’re not doing it right.” 

That is, until a cow inhales it. 

Sarge over at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth did note that along with smaller bass inside Barnstable, an angler reported catching a bonito there this week.  Getting a handle on the flats and beaches from Yarmouth to Orleans has been tough, mainly because fewer folks arebputting in the effort. I have spoken to a few flyrodders who continue to spot fish on the flats from Brewster to Orleans, but I am awaiting word of blitzing fish on any size working concentrations of bait in this area as they look to pack on some fat to help them weather their migration back to whence they came this spring.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

The word from Jake Mandirola at North Chatham Outfitters is the albies have definitely showed up around Stage Harbor/Harding’s Beach, as well as the North Cut, with a few folks getting into them yesterday. They are on small bait, with a ton of peanut bunker around, the result being some very finicky fish. If you’re not matching the hatch, generally you aren’t catching.

Bass fishing in the rips is definitely slow, but honestly Jake admitted that with the albies around, not as many people are targeting bass down Chatham way.

Before the remnants of Lee came through, I kept hearing that the only way to target bass consistently is with long shots of wire to get the jigs right on the bottom; from what Sarge at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth told me, that apparently is still the case. Some folks who went out on a charter two days ago and jigged wire from Provincetown to Wellfleet limited out just a couple of hours into the trip, at which point they released even more stripers and some bluefish.

The word from Sarge for the sand people is that there are lots of bluefish up around Nauset and Coast Guard Beach, while Jake added that from Nauset to Wellfleet, plugging at night is still producing bass.

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- September 15, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Unfortunately, this storm is going to be the equivalent of a winter nor’easter, so it certainly is going to stir things up in a big way just as a really good tube-and-worm bite has shaped up over the last couple of weeks from Town Neck to Spring Hill, said Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Red tubes have been the ticket to success and the fish have been moving in and out from pretty close to the shoreline based on the tide. A few folks have also gotten into some bass from the beaches at night on bait. Most of the larger stripers have been in the slot range, with an occasional larger one. There are also some bluefish mixed in.

Bass fishing is on the rise as the fall run pushes on (PC: @capecodcharterguys on IG)

Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth also heard that the tube and worm action has been good along Sandy Neck to Barnstable, but “I’m not hearing things about the beach fishing on the bay side.”

I was at Bruce’s the other day when a guy came in who had fished the Boston Harbor area earlier this week and he was wondering why the fish were tough to catch on artificial lures. He certainly caught some nice fish, both larger bass and blues, but apparently they had to keep switching lures from big spooks to paddletail jigs given the number of fish that were blowing up around them which he had a video of. Then when he said there was a guy catching fish one after another after casting out and then retrieving what he was throwing with big sweeps of his rod, it became obvious: he was snag and dropping pogies that the fish were keyed in on. 

Now, there is a regulation about only using circle hooks with live bait, but when I asked around, nobody could remember anyone getting written up for failing to make the switch from a snag hook to a circle. In many cases, folks have mentioned that when they snag a bait and then try to bring it back to the boat to switch it over to an outfit with the requires style hook, a big fish often just crushes the pogy before they can do so.

One individual who took part in the craziness that was the pogy bite last year on the south shore experienced this quite often and added that he was using a big snag hook – which is a treble hook with a weight attached to the shank, if you’re not familiar with them – in the 7/0 to 9/0 range and he never gut hooked a single fish. I suppose that is possible when the bass grabs the bait as you’re reeling it in quickly, but the reality, I suspect, is that way too many anglers still snag the bait and then let it drop right there, which is clearly a violation of the law and most likely results in injured fish, which was why the law was put into effect.

The reason I bring up the Boston bite is that this blow just might kick the bait into moving down into Cape Cod Bay; if that happens, the question then becomes will it move towards the Canal, with the bass following it, or will it move over around Provincetown and down the backside. Clearly, there are still a lot of quality fish up north and hopefully a migration in our direction will happen soon.

Bonito have even been reported in range of shore anglers! (PC: @fishingwithrick on IG)

Barnstable is still holding smaller bass and there have been mixed reports from the flats between Chapin’s and Brewster; I spoke to a local fly guide this week and he fished with a client up on the flats in the Orleans area this week and they saw a number of larger bass, but they unfortunately had lockjaw and showed little interest in both crab and sand eel patterns. I have heard from a number of people that there are schools of peanut bunker and silversides starting to flush out of the creeks and marshes in these areas and this in turn has often produced some of the best feeding activity for me since I have been fishing the northside and I hope to get over that way before the season ends. Although I prefer to fly fish in this scenario, unweighted, smaller soft plastics and even really small spooks will get the grab; that said, given from what I saw Capt. Mike do with the small Hogy Slowtail Swimbait, I will have at least one rod rigged with one of these offerings when the tide drops out and the fish moved off the flats into deeper water.

On the larger end of the spectrum, there has been a good giant bluefin bite up inside the bay, according to Connor Swartz at Red Top in Buzzards Bay. Of course, like any tuna species – or any fish for that matter – giant bluefin can be very temperamental. The fishing had been very good last week with multiple fish over 100-inches caught, but when Connor went out last Sunday, of the 60 or so folks he spoke to, only two fish were caught. Then on Monday, the fishing blew up again. Now, one of the issues was probably the sunny, flat calm weather on Sunday, while the next day was overcast and windier. The really odd thing about Sunday was that there was a storm that hung in the vicinity of the Canal all day, with rain that was so heavy that Connor was able to mark it on his radar as he approached Sandwich, but things were quiet out on the bay.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

The bass fishing is actually off around the rips, although Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters reported that the albies have shown up in good numbers in the rips over the last week or so. There are some bigger schools of bass offshore in deeper water, but you are skirting the federal three-mile limit out there. One issue with the rips, Jake said is that “the water temperatures are all over the place; one day it’s the high 50’s, the next in the 60’s.”

Another issue is the presence of large numbers of bluefish; while some folks are enjoying trolling swimming plugs for these big choppers, they also might be responsible for pushing a lot of the bait offshore and the bass have followed it. The blues are feeding on squid, making pink and white top colors for plugs.

Bonito have been making a strong showing this year off of Monomoy. (PC: @chiptheripp8 on IG)

There have also been reports of albies cruising along Harding’s Beach, but the bass fishing has been spottier for the most part. Small bluefish are also chewing on small bait from the entrance to Stage Harbor to out on the shallows leading to Monomoy Poiint. 

Jake said the beaches from Nauset to Truro have had schools of huge bluefish right through this week; it’s the same up around Race Point where giant tuna anglers haven’t had any problem finding these baits to liveline.

Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth heard from the charterboats that jigging wire has been best if you want to catch bass of any size, although he did hear of one fish in the 40-inch class caught on squid by a boat angler. 

A shore angler also came into the shop to re-stock on white, pre-weighted shads after he had a good night at Nauset fishing for bass; of course, there are often blues mixed in, which might be the reason he had to pick up more plastics.

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- September 8, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Some good news from the bay this week, especially for shore anglers.

A local flyrodder fished the Barnstable area flats on foot and managed 15 quality bass up to 31-inches which was really good to hear. I didn’t ask him what fly he was using, but some other folks who have been vacationing down around the Chapin’s area said there were some really big schools of silversides cruising the shoreline. Obviously, sand eels are also a major forage in the area and in years past I have found bass just going crazy in shallow water on peanut bunker. 

The flats from Sesuit to Brewster have also been fishing well; the sight fishing has been good for flyrodders fishing crab or sand eel patterns, while unweighted soft plastics are your best bet if you only spin fish. At night, however, and at false dawn, there have been a good bite on swimming and topwater plugs. 

The word from Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth is that both boat and shore anglers have been picking up more bass fishing around the Sesuit area. The sand people have been focusing on the night bite with bait, including eels and squid, while the charterboats and recreational anglers have been mainly tube-and-worming.

The fall run is in full swing with bass and blues making their way through the bay.

According to Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, the seaworm supply has been solid, which is good news since on Wednesday there was a good T & W bite down around Town Neck; some of the charterboats are jigging as well, but generally the boats with diesels that are going at a good clip really can’t tube since they don’t have specialized valves on their engines that allow for trolling slow enough to fish tubes at the right speed. At night, folks fishing the beaches in this area have been picking up some slot fish on eels and bait in the dark; a few boaters are also fishing eels at night and catching a mix of schoolies and slot fish, as well as bluefish, which makes for some really short tempered anglers when their snakes are chopped off, making for an expensive trip.

The word from Connor Swartz at Red Top in Buzzards Bay is that he fished the Marshfield area late last week and there are definitely some bigger bass moving down from the Boston Harbor area, although the schools of pogies and mackerel continue to keep some of the largest fish happy up around Beantown. As has been the case this fall, needlefish and darters have been effective options for Connor and Ian Lumsden, another member of the Red Top crew, but plastic swimmers in blurple (black/purple) and dark olive have fished even better around areas which are holding pogies and other larger baitfish such as mackerel. Then again, if there are mackerel pushed in close to the shore, Connor has been doing well with a blue mackerel version of the same style of swimmer, which I refer to as a Finnish style since no matter the exact profile or whether they feature the more contemporary long cast weighting system, all of these plugs that feature much tighter, frantic swimming action than a traditional metal lip owe their origins to Laurie Rapala, whose balsa plugs were the first of their kind to catch on in saltwater.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

After a bit of a lull in the striper action in the rips out east, Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters said the action has picked up once again. He added that it isn’t necessarily tide dependent and the fish are feeding on both squid and sand eels, as well as some peanut bunker. 

Now, I have to admit that my trips yesterday and today to Monomoy were a bit disappointing on bass; we caught fish up to 27-inches, but we could not coax any response using poppers and other topwater plugs. 

That said, I had a great time Thursday with Capt. Mike, first mate Jack Pinard and videographer extraordinaire Dante out east; in fact, Mike managed a grand slam using the smallest Hogy Slowtail in white. I have to admit that I haven’t used this offering very much, but the good captain gave me a lesson on how to swing them and let them do their own thing as opposed to doing much reeling with very little rod action. It was super cool when Jack and I saw some albies zipping through a rip and Mike dropped the Slowtail right on the fish, one of which absolutely crushed it just as it started to wiggle. There really wasn’t any bird action to indicate fish in the rips we were fishing, but the bass and a couple of huge bluefish absolutely found them to their liking. Look for a video on the trip in the near future and learn from Mike himself about to fish this incredibly versatile soft plastic jig. 

Perhaps the best part of the trip – besides listening to the banter between Mike and his two proteges – was happening upon a small pod of bonito just inside Stage Harbor at the end of the day and having a bone take a Slowtail without hesitation, following by another one exploding on the new Surface Eraser in white. Given that we were fishing in shallow water in hot, high sunshine conditions, I was gobsmacked at how aggressive the takes were given the usual finicky nature of these fish.

This bonito completed a Cape Cod Inshore Grand Slam for Capt. Mike and crew!

I have commented in the past, both on Salty Cape and other publications, about the disadvantages of fishing in so many places, mainly because I’m not in constant contact with conditions and techniques that are working as opposed to captains who focus on one area. I was reminded of this recently when Michael Beebe and I were fishing Monomoy and we were having a very slow day; years ago, Michael and his wife, Ruth Anderson, fished with Capt. Jeff Walther and caught lots of big bass, as well as their first bluefin. He mentioned that when the rips were slow, Jeff would take them to spots with good structure that this Monomoy captain knew would be holding fish – and they did consistently. In all honesty, my knowledge of this kind of fishy habitat around Chatham is pretty limited; I understood the basic mechanics of drifting the current out east of Chatham inlet when the recremercial fleet used to number in the 100’s, pretty much everyone jigging with one or two ounce diamond jigs and green tubes on the hooks. It was easy fishing, but I knew in many ways it wasn’t like I had discovered this deep water structure and it was the late Capt. Bob Luce who showed me how to make my own dredging fly lines with a shot of LC-13 “welded” to a super thin full sinking line as what I guess could be called the running line. Combined with extra heavily weighted Half-and-Half’s in either chartreuse/white or olive/white, it was a matter of setting upcurrent of where fish were holding and then casting – actually it was more like lobbing – the line downcurrent, letting it sink until we were on top of it and then employing a really aggressive, snap retrieve that I liked to call “the Chatham jig.”

In recent years, I have watched captains with far more experience around Chatham work subtle current breaks and what I would define as weak rip lines by sliding in and out from what were obviously fish holding water, despite the absence of any signs of actively feeding fish – never mind working birds.

I suspect that my failure to produce any significant number of bass recently is a result of not working this type of water correctly; Jake had mentioned that folks were catching good numbers of quality bass in 100-feet or so of water up off of Nauset, the type of fishery I mentioned above that I have not kept in my options as fishing the Monomoy rips can be so easy at times. No doubt, local knowledge gained from more time on the water than I can ever hope to garner is key to catching fish there and in many areas that I only visit a couple of times a season.

Here’s Paul Jalbert who caught this albie today at Monomoy blind casting an amber Surface Eraser.

One thing I have experienced is drifting the shoreline on the east side of Monomoy and either dredging for albies that run this structure or opting to cast topwater plugs; it was the latter that produced a nice albie for Paul Jalbert today on one of Hogy’s new Surface Eraser plugs in a known albie producing color: clear amber. We were generally blindcasting, but also paying close attention to any terns that would hover and/or dip down to the water. One of Paul’s first casts to likely looking, funny water produced an instant, explosive take, almost as if the fish was waiting for the lure to land. Sometimes I get too focused on topwater fishing because it’s my favorite and in the future I will also fish deeper in the water column using slightly larger Hogy Epoxy Jigs.

Monomoy is also a great albie and bonito spot at times because the fish will run up and down rip lines, losing some of their well-advertised finicky habits which they most often display in skinnier, clearer water. Like many other species of fish, such as bass and blues, the white water turbulence gets funny fish all fired up and willing to strike at lures that most folks would not consider throwing. In fact, over the years, the largest bonito I have ever caught have come from Monomoy on pencil poppers. Epoxy Jigs are also excellent choices as Frank Manville proved the same day that Paul caught his albie; a well-placed cast produced an instant hook-up, but I had the drag on the reel set too lightly and the fish came unbuttoned after a long run. Even in the white water and heavy current, a 3/8th ounce shrimp colored EJ proved too tempting for an albie to pass up.

Jake noted that Nauset has turned back on for the sand folk this week, while around Harding’s Beach in the last week or so there have been more decent size bass being caught at night. While eels and dark colored plastic swimmers have been top choices on the backside beaches, down around the entrance to Stage Harbor fly anglers have been outfishing spin folks since the former have a far better chance of matching the crabs that these larger bass are feeding on. In fact, Jake said he has spoken to non-fly angler who have had bass swimming right at their feet with no way of coaxing them to eat.

Capt. Dave’s Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report- September 1, 2023

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Right now, the bay is all about a tale – or tail – of the now and the hope of the future.

Basically, things are kind of quiet for the charterboats, other than some fish being caught on tubes from Barnstable to Sandwich, noted Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Like the Canal itself, there are far more schoolies than fish in the slot, never mind bass over the slot. A few boats are opting for the jig-and-pig on short wire in fairly shallow water while others are opting for umbrella rigs; based on the observation that a fair portion of the tube crew is apparently is opting for motor oil colored surgical material while light hues have been preferred for those dragging gang lures, it sounds like these fish are mainly feeding on sand eels or perhaps even some squid. 

Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville had some really good news from my perspective when she told of a Barnstable Harbor regular who lives for topwater fishing out of his tin boat; a couple of times this week, he enjoyed great topwater action on bass up to 26-inches or so using small, bone colored spooks; Amy did ask him if he could tell what the fish were feeding on, but I would definitely bet it was sand eels – if I were a betting man. Then again, there should be some peanut bunker and baby herring around as well. 

Bruce added that the sand people are picking up more bass fishing live eels and squid around the Barnstable end of Sandy Neck at night; over the next several weeks, the Sandwich creeks will typically see more bass both inside and out front.

Most of the mackerel in the bay at the moment seem to be concentrated north and slightly south of a line from Provincetown/Stellwagen over to Boston Harbor and the towns just to the south like Hull and Scituate. In fact, Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay said that he and fellow staffer Ian Lumsden have opted to skip the push of small fish in the Big Ditch this week and last for some night rock hopping south of Boston. On most nights, they are going hardcore with wetsuits, trying to reach the outer edges of the rocky shoreline to perch on to improve their chances of getting into larger bass, but Connor did say on the higher stages of the tide, some big fish do move in closer to shore. Their largest fish this week was in the low 40-pound class and it’s clear that that given the bellies on these bass that they have been feeding on larger bait, mainly pogies and mackerel. 

Needlefish and darters are favored by many of the sand-and-rock people who fish the south shore, with the traditional “dark at night” the way to go if you’re a vampire looking for a victim of size with seven stripes. Connor emphasized that the first color he reaches for is blurple (black/dark purple) and added that Daiwa has new coloration in its SP Minnow line that is based on the same blurple concept, but also has a silver stripe or midsection on it. Plain black and dark olive are good choices as they mimic live eels, a popular and productive offering if you prefer to use bait, but prefer cast-and-retrieve rather than soaking chunks or livelining. I suspect Capt. Mike will have Jack edit out any mention of eels, but the key here is that you can produce results equal to or even better than with anguila americana since in most cases soft plastics cast better than eels and you can even tandem rig a la the classic rigged eel. 

I prefer to fish my large soft plastics unweighted around rocky structure and I guarantee if I used them on fairly light jigheads around boulder fields, as the sharpies do, I would definitely get hung up; I admit I don’t have the touch for this type of fishing, but it definitely works. Along with the darker colors, another option is to use more of a silver coloration that suggests an eelskin rig, one of the deadliest striper lures ever that has now fallen out of favor. 

Hogy still sells Harness Speed Tails in a silver color, and even though they are designed to interface with the Harness Jighead using a rigging tube that is appropriate for super heavy tuna hooks, I am tempted to grab a few and perhaps even dye or mark them with a light blue permanent marker to give them more of that magic skin coloration. By the way, if you’re wondering why I would go through so much trouble 

It should be obvious that if shore anglers are finding these fish, then there are some boaters around who are keyed into the whereabouts of the schools of pogies, in particular, and they are either livelining these baitfish or opting for casting plugs, plastics, and eels into the rocks in the darkness. Of course, dropping big soft plastics down to bass holding on structure at night, as popularized by Hogy Pro Staffer Eric Harrison from his kayak, is extremely effective.

That’s the now, but the future is going to be all about what the bait does; if the big stuff moves down along the shoreline towards Plymouth, then folks in and around the Canal could be in luck. Then again, the fish might feed off the east entrance to the Big Ditch and then scoot towards Barnstable if the bait goes that way; it’s highly unlikely that they will all bypass the land cut, but who knows? For that matter, if the pogies, mackerel, and squid, go right across the bay towards Provincetown and then down the backside, then some folks are all out of luck when it comes to a run of really big fish.

Me? Give me all the schoolies you don’t want, from Sandwich to the Brewster Flats, as so often happens during September in the bay and I will be a happy angler.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Bob Lewis had a productive trip out east last weekend, landing some quality bass on some of the shoals southeast of the point using his red/orange version of the Tabory Snake Fly; there were some 8 to 10-pound blues mixed in as well. This was after he completed the first part of his reason for going there: catching fluke for dinner. Bob acknowledged he was surprised at the number of 20+-inch summer flatties he got into.

I happened to run into Dave LaPorte at Bell Road this AM and he experienced similar fluke success as Bob during a recent trip to Chatham; his original goal was to find the larger sea bass that have been reported in the area, but had no complaints about the flatfish he did catch.

Dave also reported catching an albie on his fluke rig; I forgot to ask what he was using for bait, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was squid since both albies and bonito are known to have an affinity for squid, from smaller young-of-the-year up to six inches or so. 

Bob was thinking he might find some albies on his trip, but didn’t find any signs of them until his return trip down around Point Gammon. He spoke to a fellow member of the Cape Cod Flyrodders who also reported no little tunny on his Sunday trip, but he got into them pretty good the following day in the same area.

It was good to finally meet Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters this week and he confirmed that the bass and bluefish action has been steady at the rips; a variety of squid imitations, including plastics, plugs, and flies, continue to produce, with pink always a hot color. One key has been paying close attention to the stage of the current as the action can be hot for a short while, requiring knowledge of where things might be turning on at another shoal. 

In deeper water off of the entrance to Chatham Harbor on up to Nauset, there are also some schools of sizeable bass feeding on mackerel, sand eels, squid, and the remnants of the schools of sea herring left over after the state closed the season for the net boats. 

There hasn’t been much word from the backside beaches other than some schools of bluefish between Truro and Provincetown.


New Hogy Lures Video!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Like plenty of locations on the Cape right now, the bay has been in a prolonged slump for at least a couple of weeks; on the other hand, unlike the sounds, for example, where folks are getting revved up by the appearance of funny fish, boaters and shore anglers alike in CCB are grinding it out.

For the stinkpot crew, that means plenty of dragging wire, said Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, mainly for slot sized bass at best; a lot of the effort is concentrated from Barnstable Harbor west, but a few boats – mainly part of the Rock Harbor fleet and a few from Sesuit – continue to bounce between an occasional school just outside the dropoff from the Brewster flats up to Billingsgate. There are also some smaller bluefish along the bay side of the outer Cape, especially from Wellfleet up to Truro, where deep diving swimmers like the Hogy Charter Grade Swimmer can be effective, as well as old school Hoochies if you still have them. 

Over at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, Bruce Miller noted that along with some jigging, there is probably even more tube-and-worm trolling from Barnstable back to the east entrance of the Canal. Motor oil colored tubes are a good choice right now, but people who tube on a regular basis typically carry orange, red, and even black ones because based on water conditions and clarity, as well as the depth where the fish are holding, the top producing hue can change pretty quickly. 

I hesitate to mention them because I think they should be outlawed, but a third trolling option at the moment is the umbrella rig. Well, not umbrella rigs, so I will qualify this by targeting umbrellas that have a hook on every teaser or attractor, whether shad or tube style. In one case, when you see the name given by the “designer” to his monstrosity, you will recognize that his interest isn’t in fishing, but slaughtering fish. No umbrella rig should be allowed to have more than one lure with a hook in it – period. 

And on that note, let me be clear: this is my opinion and something I have never spoken with Capt. Mike about. I suspect I know where his thoughts would lie on this matter, but then again, I would never presume to read his mind. Well, actually trying to read Mike’s mind would probably be just slightly less scary than if someone was able to see what is contained in my brain!

Amy Wrightson over at the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville told me that one of her regular customers who fishes out of Barnstable has been picking up some nice bluefish trolling around the harbor as well as picking up stripers up to the slot fishing soft plastic eel imitations. Meanwhile, up inside, some schoolie action can be had fishing around the marshes, especially in the early morning and again at dusk.

Given the fact that live bait anglers are having a difficult time finding mackerel, I just assumed that tube style umbrella rigs would be a better option since you can rig your frame with colors that are effective when fishing around sand eels, which no doubt are the most prevalent bay in near shore bay waters at the moment. White, light green/chartreuse, and even light blue are good choices, Bruce said. 

A few people continue to fish eels at night from the boat, but with the recremercial season closed, it’s hard to imagine a lot of folks spending the coin on eels when the larger fish they are targeting as recreational anglers have to be released. Bruce Miller added that shore anglers fishing from Spring Hill to down to Sandy Neck have been catching some slot sized bass on eels at night as well, as well as on seaworms. 

Then again, at least one local newspaper published a photo of a younger angler with a clearly dead, way over slot bass; add in the well-known poaching going on in the Canal and among a portion of boaters, both recreational and for hire, adherence to the rules is clearly optional amongst far too large a part of the fishing community. Honestly, given the scant level of enforcement in the Bay State and the past history of miscreants receiving a mere slap on the wrist when they go to court, in plenty of folks’ minds, the risk of being caught is worth the reward if they can bring an illegal fish home for dinner or sell a bunch on the black market. 

One of the saddest realities is that since Nelson’s closed in Provincetown in 2015, the only tackle shop on the outer Cape – well, that is, if you don’t count Chatham and Orleans and many people say the outer Cape starts at the Orleans rotary – is Blackbeard’s in Eastham, which makes getting information about what is going on from boat and beach along the forearm up to the fish of the Cape. That’s more critical to my outer Cape scribbling, but spots like Herring Cove, the Path, Pamet, and others definitely fall in Cape Cod Bay. 

Now, I could care less about specific spots since I believe giving away numbers is something that should only apply to offshore fishing; inshore, you figure it out yourself, which is something lost on a large portion of the newer generation of anglers. I’m far more interested in what bait fish are feeding on, both type and size, as well as help when it comes to lure coloration or even type; yeah, yeah, I know that being super-secret is critical, but any bones someone could throw an old dog like me would be appreciated. If you want to reach me, feel free to contact the good folks at Hogy. They know what hole I live in. 

Fortunately, folks like Sarge and Mac, along with owner Lee Boisvert, at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth do a great job on keeping in touch with what is happening all around the Cape; this morning, Sarge said, all of the bay boats cancelled their charters, but he offered up a tidbit that I was absolutely clueless about. Apparently, many of the for hire crew are fishing for black sea bass in the deeper portions of the middle of the bay because that’s where the larger ones are. Now, I refuse to get into a discussion about global warming and climate change, but I have heard over the past several years that the population of sea bass has increased significantly. In fact, if I can recall correctly, it wasn’t until relatively recently that this species was found in any great numbers in CCB – but don’t quote me on that. The fishing for this species is so good, Sarge added, that folks are getting their limits within an hour or so and then it’s all catch-and-release. 

I remember many captains back in the day who offered fishing for multiple species, in some cases jigging up a limit of stripers followed by some fluke, sea bass, or even scup fishing to finish up the day.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

The rips definitely slowed this week, explained Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters. I can tell you it was slow on Monday, in comparison to what Connor Swartz experienced last week around Pollock Rip as he was returning from tuna fishing. He and his companions were into bass big time on topwaters and he was also using the same soft plastic jig that he was throwing at tuna.

The only fish I managed to find for Michael Beebe on Monday were at Bearses on one specific point that I had to wait for another boat to vacate; they were sitting right in the white water where the fish kept moving through, which is a common mistake. We lucked out that they didn’t spook the whole place out and when a few terns flickered over the spot in pursuit of sand eels, Michael on two occasions put a two-inch olive/white epoxy sand eel pattern in the perfect spot, waited for the bug to swing, and got tight, including with a fish just over the 28-inch minimum.

Jake said that beach fishing up around Nauset has also tailed off; Matt Cody ran up that way in his boat and said there were no fish to be marked down deep or on top pushing bait. 

One issue that makes sense is that we were marking water temperatures as low as 52-degrees on the cold tide. 

Heck, things were so bad that on the way back to Stage Harbor, there were no signs of all of those small bluefish you can pretty much count on in the shallows between the Point and Harding’s.

Jake said the tuna bite out close in has turned into a giant scenario in spots like Crab Ledge and some big fish have been caught from Nauset up to the Golf Balls, perhaps because of all of the bluefish in the area, which is what shore anglers have been encountering for the most part along the backside beaches. 

Folks looking for football or castable size tuna have been venturing out to the Regal Sword and even farther east and south; Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay fished there last week and said the fish were feeding heavily on sand eels, making for a good jig bite.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The best I can say about fishing in the bay right now is to quote Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis: “There are fish around, but you are going to have to work for them.”

Apparently, the charterboats out of Barnstable and Sesuit have been focusing a good number of their trips in the waters just west of B-Harbor down to the Scorton Creek area; my nephew Frank was in this area recently and said there were about 20 boats working a small stretch off Sandy Neck. It seemed obvious to him that there were two main trolling techniques being employed: the tube-and-worm by recreational boaters and those charterboats able to troll slowly and the pig-and-jig on wire for those charterboats that either aren’t outfitted with a trolling valve that allows a diesel to be run at low RPM’s or they refuse to tube – perhaps because of the cost of worms! 

Another option mentioned by Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore is umbrella rigs; in this case, this typically means those rigged with small tubes to imitate the sand eels that are often the primary bait in the near shore waters from Barnstable to Sandwich.

Years ago a local captain fishing an area south of the Vineyard called the Hooter started making a special leadhead shape that allowed him to drag and bounce it along the bottom in the sand while trolling much slower than you would with parachute or traditional hair jig styles; this enabled him to imitate the myriad number of crabs in the area the bass were feeding on. The variety of crustaceans that stripers feed on is not common knowledge among many striper anglers; from a variety of crabs to shrimp – including really large mantis shrimp – to lobsters, bass have no problem munching and crunching without the use of any tools like we do, relying on their incredibly powerful gullets to handle the shells. 

Down south, they use a style of jighead called a “skimmer jig” that allows spin anglers to imitate crabs and other bottom critters while fishing for bonefish and other flats species, but I don’t believe I have seen them for sale up this way. Anyone who fly fishes is well aware of the numerous crab, shrimp, and even baby lobster patterns that have been created over the years and a variety of plastic crustacean plastics have caught on as far north as New Jersey, although they are far more commonly used from the Chesapeake area down to Florida and along the Gulf coast where shrimp are perhaps the most common bait sold in shops and anglers gather a variety of crab types to fish as well. 

Up here, the only crab that most folks are concerned with is the generically named green crab, but within that designation there are actually two “brands,” both of them invasive: the European green crab that was introduced from the bilge of ships coming from, of all places, Europe, in the 1880’s while the Asian shore crab, which is apparently more aggressive and negatively impacting local species, was first seen on the east coast in New Jersey in 1988. Up in Maine, fly fishing with green crab patterns has become very popular and productive; no doubt, there are folks in the Bay State who are doing the same, but most likely keeping it quiet. 

According to Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth, the bite at Billingsgate has been very inconsistent, with mainly smaller bass and some bluefish; there are also small blues from Wellfleet on up the Path towards Truro. 

One promising note came courtesy of my friend Barney Keezell; last week he was on a charter up in the Boston Harbor area and they caught “all big fish” as he put it, with most of them over 40-inches. I have seen photos of the fish being caught by charter boats who jig up and then liveline mackerel or opt for trolling umbrella rigs festooned with shad body soft plastics. With all of the hoo-ha about catch-and-release amongst the recreational community, I cannot believe that the state allows the sale of umbrella rigs on which each bait is rigged with a hook; talk about post release mortality. You see that kind of thing down in the Chesapeake amongst the for hire crew, but they are fishing on smaller bass; it was also common back in the days to see photos of an angler or mate on a charterboat holding up an umbrella rig with multiple small fish dangling from it. 

Anyways, Barney added that there are also some schools of pogies mixing in as well, perhaps a sign that cooler water is starting their movement towards Cape Cod Bay. I sure hope that Plymouth s— show doesn’t make a late season appearance this fall; the DMF did a great job of encouraging the decimation of a large portion of the broodstock females through its insistence of continuing the commercial – oops, I mean recremercial – fishery and any push of big fish that recreational anglers can target can only increase the harm done to the bass population. I recognize that it’s the law that have to fish bait on a circle hook, but snag-and-drop with weighted trebles around pogy schools is still widely practiced; in fact, I’d love to see if there has been any documented enforcement action.

With the recent series of east/northeast winds and cooling water temperatures, be advised that the big bait is moving; in fact, Bruce Miller said that not only are the mackerel back in the Canal, but folks are starting to  – and in the case of peanut bunker and herring fry making their way into open water from their juvenile waters – so be advised that the best is yet to come and be ready to put as much time on the water as you can.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Fishing for bass and even some big bluefish remains very good on the shoals; the bite seems best the further east you go, where the fish are still feeding on squid during the stronger parts of the tide, noted Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters. Some folks are also jigging up mackerel and livelining them in the deeper water between the shoals, while snapping wire has been effective in targeting any larger fish in the area. The slower stretches of the current around slack has also seen plenty of bass feeding on sand eels between the rips; it can be frustrating as they appear like albies or bonito as they push bait to the surface and then drop back deep into the water column. 

I knew a number of folks who would rake their own sand eels and drifting from rip to rip, bouncing this bait along the bottom and they caught plenty of bass. My preference is to fish Hogy Sand Eel Jigs or Epoxy Jigs, but I need to remember that Jake keeps saying that pink has been the hot color, something I should understand since small pink soft plastics on jigheads have saved many a day for me off Chatham. You won’t ever catch me without my olive and green jigs, but when the bait is so thick, pink often does the trick.

Bob Lewis keeps doing well on his quick, early morning trips east of the point where he gets the best of the tide, with his last trip with UMass Amherst doctoral candidate Olivia Dinkelacker producing bass up to 38-inches on squid patterns and plenty of data for her catch-and-release studies. Yesterday, Olivia went out with Capt. Warren Marshall and they had another productive trip, including hooking up one fish to a monitor for 15 minutes to get more information on what happens to a bass after the hook is removed and it is placed back in the water.

There are small bonito being caught at times, but the best funny fish news from this area came from – who else? – Bob Lewis who heard that Capt. Bobby Miller picked up five albies as an incidental catch to what was scheduled as a bass trip. 

The bass bite up around Nauset remains strong on swimming plugs, soft plastics, and eels; schools of mackerel have been moving into the wash at times to feed on the sand eels and other small bait, making for perfect conditions for flyrodders. The beaches in Truro are giving up bass on larger black soft plastics, as well needlefish and shallow running Finnish style swimming plugs. Up around Provincetown, there have been a good number of big bluefish, with livelining mackerel or jigging wire the top producers of bass.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Unfortunately, the news this week regarding the bay is not very upbeat, with most folks reporting very few bass in the nearer shore or lower waters of the Cape. I guess I should clarify what I mean by that; typically, I think of the bay as being divided in a line from Provincetown/Truro over to Plymouth, which I call the upper part of the bay, and below that from the east entrance of the Canal/Scusset  to Wellfleet, including Billingsgate/the Fingers, as the lower area. 

At the moment, Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth confirmed that the fishing from outside Sesuit over to Billingsgate has been really slow; other than some smaller bass being caught on the tube-and-worm or deep diving swimmers and some smaller bluefish over towards Wellfleet, things have been quiet. In fact, Lee observed that the only consistent catches he has heard of have been from up around Provincetown and around the corner from Race Point and down the backside. Obviously if you can get live mackerel, you should do well fishing them at this time of the year, while jigging wire is another good option. 

The catch of the week award from Billingsgate has to go to Vinny “The Reel Repair Guy at the Sports Port,” which is what owner Amy Wrightson said I should call him. He sells some bass and was up on the shoals this week, but had no success with stripers – but he did manage to troll up a bonito! I guess that’s what happens when you work for someone who is a full fledged member of the Tuna Nut Club; a bone might not be a bluefin or yellowfin, but it’s a distant relative and certainly not a bass. 

Last week, the word from Sarge at Riverview was that red jigs were productive up there and I was reminded that in the bay, when folks are talking about jigs, they are referring to your typical, traditional bucktail or nylon hair jig as opposed to the parachute style preferred on the shoals in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, as well as Monomoy, the Vineyard, and Nantucket. 

Of course, no matter what style of what I call “hair jigs” is used, as opposed to those more contemporary leadhead designs that carry soft plastic tails, whether paddles or eel-shaped, you want to add some kind of trailer. Uncle Josh is once again selling pork rind, albeit with the skins now sourced in China, but some other companies came up with alternatives that apparently worked well when there was such a shortage of pigskin in the U.S. that folks like Uncle Josh stopped offering their traditional designs.

Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said that the Barnstable area has been very slow, whether folks are fishing live bait, jigs, or tubes for larger fish or if they are interested in fly fishing or light tackle plugging some of the smaller fish feeds that this area is well-known for, especially in the early AM at this point in the summer. Quite frankly, if you are looking for bass anywhere in the lower part of the bay, especially for shore anglers or boaters who like to fish skinny water, you are best getting out at night. 

There’s no word that the tube or live eel bite has shaped up with any consistency; Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore sees the same local faces buying eels, typically recremercials who sell bass since a lot of folks are put off by the cost of snakes unless they can turn a profit on them, and again these are people who have no problem spending all night looking for a spot that is holding a few nicer bass. 

Jeff Miller added that there are some mackerel around the east entrance to the Canal, but it seems that the larger bass have still moved north from Plymouth to Boston where the water is colder and the macks more plentiful. He did hear of a few boaters picking at some 30 to mid-30-inch stripers casting plugs and soft plastic leadheads this week along the south shore, close enough to the Cape that some folks would argue that this area historically qualifies as part of the hook and was only cut off by the creation of the mankind generated Big Ditch.

Obviously, the Canal merits its own regional news as perhaps the most well-known and popular shore spot for bass, both for Bay Staters and those that venture here from a surprisingly long ways away, but be advised that there are fish to be had from the sand-and-rock shoreline that stretches from Scusset to Plymouth and beyond. Last week, Ian Lumsden from Red Top in Buzzards Bay took the time to educate me on what lures and techniques that he and other folks from the shop, like Bull MacKinnon and Connor Swartz, use in these waters – including wetsuiting, something that is truly indicative of a hardcore surf angler. I hope to share some of these insights over the next couple of weeks, but as I was trying to finish news from this region, all I could keep hearing is funny fish news.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

The rips are what they are and there is still some good fishing there, but you knew that already, so I’ll get there in a bit.

What intrigued me was my conversation with Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters; he has been fishing the main beach area around Nauset and doing well using shallow running swimmers like the Daiwa SP Minnow reeled very slowly. He has fished the Nauset Light and other areas to the north, but hasn’t found the fishing as good. It appears that there is a bumper crop of mackerel along the outer Cape, both in deeper water and along the backside beaches; for that reason, Jake has been sticking with a mackerel color swimmer and hasn’t been disappointed. He hasn’t heard of any huge fish caught, but there is no lack of fish in the slot on up to the mid-30-inch class. Along with the mackerel, the bass are also feeding on sand eels that have been drawing the larger baitfish in; Jake witnessed a flyrodder doing well one night, a sure sign that the fish are feeding in tight to the beach in shallower water at times. He also said there has been a good topwater bite around dusk; it isn’t every night, but the regulars are making sure that they don’t skip a night and miss it. 

Even though he hasn’t been fishing the outer beaches much this season, having become a certified tuna nut, Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay spoke to Ian Lumsden, with whom he fishes the beach when he does, about what he has heard from the backside beaches. Ian hasn’t been there much, either, but keeps in touch with down Cape folks and they have been doing OK, especially up around Truro. Along with needlefish and shallow running swimmers, Ian said that the hot item this season has been the large, tandem rigged black soft plastic – in other words, the kind of bait that got the Original Hogy and its patented rigging system started in the first place. I won’t bore you with stories of making up the tandem rigs, rigging baits, and packaging them, but I bet Capt. Mike might be willing to share some of his experiences and the background on how he came up with the rigging design and the exact Hogy plastic formulation in the Originals. 

Even though they are only sold up to 10-inches these days, it’s the action that seals the deal and I have seen Mike outfish someone using live eels on more than one occasion. Also, as effective as the tandem rig is in keeling a large soft plastic and dealing with short strikes, having had the tail hook driven into my hand while trying to land a large bluefish that took the head hook, it isn’t the safest set up. In fact, just as our fishing days together tailed off, Capt. Mike created the Soft Circle hook concept, which is better for the fish and just as effective at hooking since bass take the lure from the head in most cases. If you aren’t a fan of circle hooks on an artificial lures, then no doubt a Siwash or inline single would work.

Jake added that boat folks have been fishing the backside from Nauset up to Provincetown during the day and finding the same schools of fish that are hitting the beach at night, sometimes on top where they are pushing sand eels, sea herring, mackerel, and some squid, but there are just as many times when there are no signs of fish or birds are just sitting and waiting. It’s at that times when knowledge of how to use your electronics can help you identify bait and bass, at which point you can drop a Sand Eel or Epoxy Jig down in deeper water or just flutter a jighead rigged Original or Protail Paddle down to the fish. 

In addition to those options, I can tell you from personal experience that even when the fish aren’t showing, then a Charter Grade Popper will call them up, as will an XL Dog Walker. I was at Monomoy with my friend Gerry Fine on Monday and we found schools of bass pushing sand eels to the surface in 30 to 40-feet of water west of the point; the surface feeds were sporadic, which is common for deep water situations, making it similar to albie fishing, and we couldn’t get our flies down to the fish. Add in an ever increasing number of boats and off we went, looking for own fish.

Unfortunately, as Jake emphasized, early morning tides have been best, with some days producing fish for only an hour or so after which it’s a whole lot of searching. In fact, about half of the people who come into the shop say they found nothing while the other half had epic days. 

We were down and out for a while, but as the current and rips picked up, we set up drifts well above the white water where birds were working and fish were showing. Gerry managed a few nice bass on olive/white Clousers, but it go a little crowded so off we went and found some boats working a rip, with guys from the Cape Cod Flyrodders doing especially well.

That was not the case for us and with more boats on the scene, we finally found what we wanted: a rip line with no other boats around and fish everywhere. The fly rod worked fine and it was clear the bass were feeding on mainly sand eels, unlike the previous spot where there was some squid mixed in with the baitfish. Gerry is great to fish with because even though he reaches for the long want first, it takes no convincing to pick up a spinning outfit and in this case it was a great choice. He managed two fish over 40-inches and several others well over the slot on the Hogy Charter Grade Popper in Albie Crack; the aerials were spectacular as the fish were jumping all over themselves to get to the plug, doing their best impressions of a school of bluefish. 

Given the size of the fish we caught in the daytime, I suspect that a portion of the recremercial crew is fishing this area at night. Jake said some guys are doing OK during the day jigging wire, but he added that a handful are coming in to buy five, six, seven pounds or more of live eels, a good indication of what is up.


Tagging False Albacore From Last Fall

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

We’ll start off this report with what has generally been the consensus around many areas of the Cape: the fishing has been kind of in the doldrums leading up to and even coming off the full moon on Tuesday, which technically what is called a Super Moon. Many folks commented on the strength of the currents, which combined with the tendency of fish to feed at night during the bright moon, makes for challenging fishing during daylight hours.

According to Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, Barnstable Harbor has been very slow lately; the few fish that have been caught are coming on chunk mackerel around the deeper edges of the main channel. As I discovered the hard way a couple of weeks ago, there has also been a lack of schoolie action in what is traditionally a great area for flyrodders and light tackle anglers. Given that preliminary numbers on the 2023 young-of-the-year production in the Maryland part of the Chesapeake Bay suggest that the current trend of horrible spawns is continuing should be a major concern; simply put, if you want bigger bass, you have to produce small fish in sufficient numbers of sustain a healthy spawning stock biomass.

There have been rumors that Maryland is withholding any mention of the early results of the survey with the ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board scheduled for this past Tuesday, August 1. That would make sense since the fisheries’ folks in that state, along with New Jersey and Delaware apparently are planning on resisting any increased conservation measures for 2023, so providing poor numbers of young-of-the-year would defeat Maryland’s desire to protect their commercial interests, while NJ and Delaware, though they have no commercial fishery, typically side with the Chesapeake regions due to their desire to kill more stripers as part of their recreational sector. In fact, Jersey was the only state that voted against the current slot limit and only complied when faced with sanctions.

I also heard that there is talk of changing the slot limit to something like 30 to 33-inches next year, which is mind boggling given that this proposal would once again target the 2015 year class, the one fairly robust class of fish that might provide the best chance for a recovery of a fishery that is in serious trouble. 

At the moment, the recremercial fishery in Massachusetts has reached 74.5% of its 2023 quota, or 521,463 pounds out of the 700,379 allowance of fish 35-inches and up, so how could the Bay State even suggest to any Chesapeake state or district to reduce their for sale quota – even though Virginia, Maryland, and the Potomac River District accounts for the largest quota of any region where Atlantic striped bass are caught. Yeah, they catch small fish – their limit is 18 to 31-inches – but all of the bass we catch are proven spawners with the greatest number of viable eggs, which has typically been their argument. 

What should really be of concern is a rumor that that the Bay State is going to request an increase in their commercial numbers for 2024; I find that hard to believe given what recent studies have shown about the overall health of the fishery, but I have been shocked by actions taken by our Division of Marine Fisheries in the past, so stay tuned. 

What I also heard is that at the August 1 ASMFC bass board meeting, any action on Addendum II to the current plan, which included a slate of increased conservation measures, was postponed – no surprise there – but I will have to confirm that and report back next week.

As has been the case pretty much all season, reports from CCB this week keep mentioning “slot” fish or those just below or above close to the recreational 28 to less than 31-inch limit when it comes to what the average angler is catching, with far less news about abundant numbers of schoolies. Places like Barnstable, along with the Sandwich creeks and the shallows that stretch from Yarmouth to Brewster, have had decent numbers of small fish, which can make fly and light tackle anglers happy, but this action isn’t consistent as it has been in the past, clearly a result of poor reproduction. 

That said, what is incredibly important at the moment is taking extra care when releasing these smaller fish as well as curbing fishing activity when they are abundant. I cringe when I think about the days when I would take fly anglers out and they would catch untold numbers of small bass; I would suggest moving elsewhere to see if we could find some “larger” fish, but if you’re the average trout angler, catching 16 to 24-inch bass and the occasional larger one, is heaven. I pride myself on the care I take in releasing fish, including my aching knees due to kneeling down to reach over the gunwale to remove barbless flies without removing a fish from the water, but I know that catching so many would only logically result in accidentally killing too many. 

One of the big challenges facing the trolling crew in the bay this week has been the lack of seaworms to tip their tubes; like every tackle shop owner I spoke to, Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said whether it’s the full moon tides or the fact that many of the folks up in Maine are now picking blueberries rather than worms, getting this prized bait has been tough. It seems like if a shop orders 20 flats – with a flat containing about ten dozen worms – they get maybe two or three. That’s why Lee limits purchases to one dozen so that his supply, when it is so limited, is available to more anglers. 

If you’re heading to a local shop just to get worms, it might be worth a call before making the trip; then again, if you’re a true tackle crazy like me, visiting one of the bait-and-tackle venues on the Cape and islands is always a good idea because you never know what you forgot until you see it on the wall, hanging or standing upright in a rod rack, or in a reel case. Even more likely is that you need new line on your reel and these folks have the right winding machine for the job, especially when it comes to braid. 

On bright sunny days like we have had this week – especially if your idea of getting up early is 8 AM – or you are marking fish holding on the bottom, then it’s time to switch over to snapping wire or some other deep water presentation such as trolling deep divers like the Hogy Charter Grade Swimmer. That’s what a lot of folks are doing around Billingsgate around the deeper edges; if you are a late riser and the bass are hard to find, they consider trolling from Wellfleet to Truro with swimming plugs for bluefish.

One of the most underrated fisheries along the outer Cape bay beaches is tossing topwater plugs and unweighted soft plastics in the shallows close to shore, as well as over weed patches in the area. It’s kind of fun blindcasting and raising fish out of seemingly nowhere; if you’re a flyrodder, you can do the same with poppers or Gurglers on a floating line or even do a little sight fishing with sand eel and crab patterns on an intermediate line. 

Speaking of sight fishing, there are still good numbers of bass on the flats each of Sesuit, but they are getting pickier; folks like Jake Mandirola have had some success with longer leaders and tippets all the way down to 10-pound, as well as small, unweighted sand eel patterns. Crabs are popular, but pay attention to the disturbance the fly you are using makes; there are variations that use different materials to reduce the noise they make, which can be key.

If you are familiar with the tide stage and the holes and sloughs on these flats, then getting up really early – 3 to 4 AM – can produce some great fishing with bass swirling all around you. The fact that the sun will be coming up is key, as going out at dusk and planning on fishing at night – especially on a new moon – can be disorienting and dangerous, especially if some fog rolls in. If you go out before sunrise and are fishing in water which will be dropping, then you should be OK.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Like so many other places, the fishing on the shoals during daylight hours were apparently impacted by the upcoming full moon, especially on Monday. 

Bob Lewis told me that Capt. Warren Marshall reported that he spoke with fellow members of the Cape Cod Flyrodders and it was very much a pick, with just a couple of smaller bass caught on each boat.

I also heard from Ken Shwartz who makes the long run from Mattapoisett to fish off Chatham and they also found the fishing much slower than in previous weeks.

Of course, as Jake Mandirola at North Chatham Outfitters pointed out, as we get into August, picking the right tide becomes even more important. He’s been finding fish with no problem, but understands that each shoal or rip fishes best on different current directions and typically for a small period of the tide cycle; compare this to earlier in the season when the fish are first settling in and are super aggressive and hungry.

First light also becomes more important, especially the morning after a full moon; for example, I got an early start with Sara Perkins and her son Ben on Monday and fished a series of rips that typically don’t get a lot of attention and we had bass all over our Hogy Charter Grade Poppers, the medium size in Albie Crack. All the while, we watched boats charging by headed east for spots beyond the point, paying absolutely no attention to what was going on nearby.

The action lasted for a bit longer than an hour or so, but when fish have been feeding at night under a full moon, it isn’t uncommon for them to go on the feed for one last push before they settle down the bottom or even in sunny, shallower water at times to digest and, for lack of a better term, rest. 

In fact, we bounced around different spots where the tide was slowing and marked fish on the bottom, but they were having none of our jigs. Eventually, the currents at Bearses picked up and there were terns picked on sand eels and a couple of schools of small bluefish, but there were so many boats in such a small area and more on the way that I elected to go with plan B.

That was bluefish on the west side of Monomoy, all the way back to Stage Harbor; they weren’t large, but they are just as pugnacious and fun as their larger brethren, especially when you go with really light tackle. When you are into blues, this is the time to switch over a single Siwash or in-line tail hook on plugs and jigs.

As much fun and as productive throwing topwater plugs, flies, and plastics can be on the shoals, Noah Lampert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth reminded me that snapping wire has always been the traditional way of targeting fish holding in deeper water around the Cape and plenty of folks still opt for that method. You will see all types of boats jigging wire – and you can tell the serious ones if they are hand jigging, which is using a gloved hand to jig the line while the rod remains in the gunwale holder – from Chatham to Provincetown. In fact, Noah said that the word he got was that red jigs on wire has been hot up around the tip of the Cape, along with livelining mackerel.

Jake added that the flats have slowed the last week or so; there are still fish around, but you have to plan your trip to take advantage of incoming, cooler water and understand the structure of channels that fish follow onto the shallows and then use to leave when the tides drops. High sunshine conditions might be better for sight fishing, but if we can see the fish more clearly, they have a better sense that we are around; this is definitely the time for wade fishing, as someone perched up on a poling platform holding an 18 to 20-foot fiberglass or graphite pole that can flash in the sun is pretty easily noticed. Longer leaders and lighter fluorocarbon tippets also help, and as Tim Negronida mentioned after fishing the flats with a local guide, “These fish have seen way too many Clousers” as he opts for unweighted sand eel patterns. 

It might sound counterintuitive, but I have even heard of some successful flats anglers opting for a full sinking line in the 200 to 250-grain range with an extra, extra long leader to get their fly down to bottom where the fish are grabbing sand eels and crabs in deeper water. More often, however, an intermediate line will serve the same purpose and clear versions is what most folks prefer from what I gather. 

Harding’s Beach continues to fish well around the mouth of Stage Harbor and some boaters have been making the run out the north cut and making the run up to Nauset and beyond, finding some schools of quality bass on plugs and plastics when they are showing, although it is often really common to happen upon a concentration of birds sitting on the water, a pretty good sign that something happened recently. If you do run into that, sneak a peak on your sonar and you might discover a lot of fish sitting under the birds, making for a great time to drop down a jig and do some vertical jigging. Given how large a part that sand eels play in the food chain on the outer Cape, it only makes sense to go with imitations of these slender baitfish like the Hogy Sand Eel jig or Hogy Epoxy Jigs; olive and green are usually what people reach for, but Jake is always mentioning how pink is such a hot color that it can be a challenge keeping certain “hot” lures in this hue on the shelves. Years ago, pink Finnish style swimmers were a hot item, whether they were Rebels, Red Fins, Hellcats, and Rapala’s early on followed by Bombers, Mambo Minnows, and even more recently the Daiwa SP Minnow and Yo-zuri’s various slender body plugs,; heck, if a shop ran out of pink plugs, guys would buy a can of pink spray paint – fluorescent or bright pink were often favored – and make their own; silver bellies were another good option.

As effective as jigs made out of hard materials such as chrome, lead, and epoxy have proven to be, given that there are also schools of sea herring and mackerel up and down the outer Cape, make sure to carry soft plastic paddles such as the Hogy Protail Paddle. If you are convinced that adding a mack’s characteristic marks to your Protails. As much as I appreciate the convenience of pre-rigged baits, I really appreciate the Hogy Thumper Series, which allows me to carry different weight heads and just one size body that matches the size of the larger baitfish we have in our waters. 

I also wouldn’t be caught dead without an assortment of jigheads, weighted and unweighted swimbait hooks and Hogy 7-inch Originals and Sand Eels; with this selection in my bag, I can match any bait in terms of either profile or movement – even a smaller plastic made of the right material like the Hogy Originals can give off the appearance of a larger baitfish due to its great action – and fish any depth of water. Unlike freshwater bass anglers who will tell you there is a good reason that some soft plastic worm and baitfish makers have dozens upon dozens of colors, black at night – or pearl on full moon nights – and lighter colorations during the day will cover most scenarios.

Shore fishing on the outer Cape is better than people will often acknowledge, especially for the sharpies who still ply the sands in search of bass of size. Along with the swimmers mentioned above, especially in pearl/white, bone, dark and light olive, and blurple, needlefish dominate the outer Cape plugging scene amongst the night crowd. 

You will see folks tossing pencil poppers at first light off the Nauset Beach main parking lot, but generally they are hoping for a school of bluefish to happen by; in recent weeks, there has been a decent night bite with live eels, but it can get pretty crowded.

Folks have been catching bluefish off the beach up around Race Point and the Truro beaches are holding bass; the real issue is the walk from the parking lot  it takes to reach many of the productive holes and bars. Sure, seals can be a nuisance, but so can mung. It’s all part of the game and it’s just a matter of whether you have it in you to play it.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

I was reminded of this famous line from the poet, Robert Burns, last Sunday when I elected to give the Barnstable Harbor area a go given my near miss in the fog at Monomoy the day before. More on that later.

Burns wrote this line in his poem, To A Mouse, apparently was written after he disturbed a mouse’s nest that this creature has hoped would keep him or her warm throughout the winter and, after observing it scurrying for cover, he then went on to ponder man’s relation to nature and the uncertainty of life, as encapsulated in the line above, which in modern English is often translated as “The best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry,” or not as planned.

So what does this have to do with Barnstable last Sunday? Well, in last week’s CCB report, I noted the with a push of colder water and the last of the incoming water occurring before first light and the turn to the drop right about sunrise, some good topwater action might be in the cards.

But it was not to be.

Tim Negronida and I worked the stretch all along Calves Pasture to Blish Point with the fly rod, opting to use a popper/slider combination that in the past has raised some tremendous fish for me, even in the heat of summer. 

But after not even a swirl or signs of terns working sand eels or any other small bait, we poked around the flats inside by the marsh, the deep edge of Horseshoe Bar, and both West and East Bar with no more success. I saw another boat tossing a big, bone spook – for all I know it could have been a Hogy XL Charter Grade Spook – but the few times I looked over I never saw it draw any action, either. 

I saw a few folks using what looked to be mackerel and sure enough Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis informed me that bait has been the key to success in Barnstable, especially drifting chunks at night, with a 54-inch bass caught recently. 

The flats between East Bar and Chapin’s had no life, so we ran down past Sesuit in hopes of getting a shot at the fish that Tim had been catching both on topwater plugs from 4 AM to just past sunrise while wading the flats, as well as on the fly, but it was pretty clear that they had moved out past the dropoff into deeper water at that point in the morning. I knew that simply because there was a veritable fleet of charter and recreational boats trolling slowly in a small area, a sure sign that they were using the tube-and-worm.

At this point in full scramble mode as nothing had panned out several hours in this trip, I elected to run up towards Billingsgate, which was pretty much a ghost town, and then on to Provincetown, which was not. At the tip, there were folks jigging wire, trolling tubes, and livelining mackerel, with the latter producing most of the fish. Being an artificials guy, I went through plugs, weighted soft plastics, and even metal jigs with no love when it came to bass, although we did raise one super ruckus on the Charter Grade Spook blindcasting towards the beach around Race Point. Ultimately, we did manage a bluefish that was kind enough to release itself at the boat.

I did hear that there has been more bluefish action around the Path from Wellfleet to Truro trolling deep diving swimmers and bucktail jigs – as well as Hoochies it you still have some – while up inside Wellfleet Harbor there are good numbers of small bluefish and even some schoolies on the flats outside Jeremy’s Point. 

For shore anglers, other than the Brewster Flats, things have gotten quiet; Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville said that a few folks are still fishing chunk mackerel at night up inside Barnstable, but things around the beaches in Yarmouth and Dennis have gotten pretty quiet, noted Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth. Lee also pointed out that with all of the tube-and-worm fishing, getting as many flats of seaworms as he would like can be a challenge as any shop that carries them is dependent on the tides in Maine, as well as the willingness of diggers to harvest them. Recently, there was a “strike” by the folks up north, as they were looking for higher prices, which was obviously not a regular occurrence, but I have learned that over the years you can count on a lot of wormers switching over to picking blueberries for a simple reason: they get more money for picking fruit than seaworms.

With all of the fish in the Canal, I would be remiss not to mention that Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Sagamore told me yesterday that a few of the “usual suspects” – guys who don’t fish unless they can kill bass for sale – have been in this week getting eels, a good sign, he added, that they have found a school of fish. In the past, this has typically been between Town Neck and Scorton Creek, oftentimes right in tight to the sand at high water and the cover of darkness. 

I went to the state DMF website looking for information on what percentage of the striper quota has been filled, but the quota and landings section for all species was blank. At the moment, the current plan is to allow commercial fishing for bass from Monday to Friday starting October 1 as opposed to the current Monday to Wednesday schedule, but given past practice and the inscrutable desire of the state to fill those trucks with dead bass, if the percentage of the quota that is filled is too low right now, you will see the boys at the top starting tinkering with the regulations. 

By the way, anyone out there bought a piece of striped bass recently or know someone who has? I’ve heard of prices running up to around $25 a pound or more, but if there aren’t as many fish being caught for sale, the price paid to the fisherman goes up and that’s when the real tried and true recermercials show up.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

While the shoals around Monomoy are known for bass and blues, over the years I have managed to pick up some random legal fluke during the slower stages of the current; some of my favorite lures for this fishing are olive Hogy Epoxy Jigs and Hogy Sand Eel Jigs, which makes sense since this is one of the predominant baits in these waters and they can be found in all water depths. If I knew what I was doing, I imagine I could do well targeting this species, like Bob Lewis has done the last several years as he has discovered certain holes where summer flounder of size are pretty common.

As far as the bass fishing goes, it’s good – even very good – but according to Jake Mandirola at North Chatham Outfitters, it’s definitely even more important to pay attention to the colder water tides and where they set up at different shoals in the area. For example, in some areas, as the current flows out of Nantucket Sound, you will find yourself covered up in big bluefish around the point, while farther east towards Pollock Rip the bass will be more active.

Pink has always been a hot color from boat and beach on the outer Cape, whether it is water conditions and the contrast that makes a sand eel imitation stand out amongst all the real ones or the prevalence of squid in the rips, but Jake said they have been working hard to keep a variety of lures in this color range on the walls.  

Bob Lewis is one person who spends a good deal of time targeting prime times to fish Monomoy, often making the run there in the early morning to fish a certain area and tide before returning to Cotuit to head to work. Bob has had a number of conversations with Capt. Ron Murphy, captain of the Stray Cat out of Hyannis as well as developer of the Capt. Ron’s Parachute Squid Fly, which many folks stream back into the rip line on light lead core or braided line outfits to work higher in the water column and right in the white water. From what I gather, Ron believes there is an optimal time for action at each shoal and you have to hit it just right; as summer wears on, the peak period of activity can occur early in the morning before high sunshine drives the fish and bait into deeper water, which is more appropriate for wire line and vertical jigging. 

Spin anglers will definitely find it simpler that fly anglers to target different levels of the water column with a single correct outfit will allow you to both surface and subsurface plugs; weighted and unweighted soft plastics; and even jigs designed for vertical presentations. Realistically, there is no one rod that will do all of these things equally well – which is why I carry so many rods set up for different lures – but you could find one that would do them adequately or in a pinch. 

So along with the rods and reels, I always carry these Hogy items: Charter Grade Poppers in the small and medium sizes in Albie Crack and amber; Charter Grade Dog Walkers and XL Dog Walkers in bone/white and amber; 7-inch Originals in amber, bone, and bubblegum, with unweighted and weighted swimbait hooks and assorted jighead weights; and Epoxy, Heavy Minnow, and Sand Eel Jigs in different sizes. That allows me to work all levels of the water column and mimic the two primary baits there in squid and sand eels, as well as sea herring and anything else they might be munching on.

Flyrodders, on the other hand, need at least three different lines to work on top, slightly subsurface, and deep; you can purchase spare, easily interchangeable spools for some reels that you can load with different lines, allowing you to use one rod.

Frankly, I find this a waste of too much time and always have six rods rigged up with different lines – two floating, two intermediate, and two 350-grain or heavier full sink lines – so if I have two fly anglers fishing at the same time, I can just hand them another set up if the circumstances require it. 

One of the things I am fiddling with at the moment is finding the right fly line configuration for tossing big squid Gurglers and poppers that Bob has become super adept at tying and is generous enough to share with me. Although I have changed my tune and now see the benefits of what I call “mooching” with a fly rod – basically stripping line off the reel and allowing it to stream back into the rip, as which point you basically jig the line, without actually stripping it back to the boat – I still like to cast when I use a fly rod. Big, wind resistant patterns are a challenge on any type of fly line, but it’s especially true with floating lines; the lines I use myself have long belly tapers, making it necessary to keep a lot of line in the air to load the rod – not an ideal situation with big flies. Fortunately, when fishing from a boat in the rips, long casts – anything over 60-feet – aren’t often necessary, so the newer style heavier, front loaded designs will work fine – I think – since extreme distance, which isn’t necessarily their strength, isn’t critical. I know that many line companies emphasize how these lines help with a quick, shorter presentation, but as with everything when it comes to tackle, I never buy anything based on manufacturer specs or other angler’s opinions – that means I can justify buying stuff in the name of research!

I always hesitate to mention when the fishing is good on the backside beaches because I know how hard those folks who still fish this area work to find bass and the skills they have developed to be consistently successful. Heck, even the amount of walking they have to do to access productive areas is mind boggling. It’s not like the old days when you could stay on the beaches with a camper and a chase vehicle that would allow you move up and down the backside with the fish. Now from plovers and erosion, more and more of the two remaining areas – Nauset and Race Point – that still allow oversand travel are closing. 

What Jake told me is that along with the crowds focusing on the good bass fishing at night around Nauset, there are pockets of fish from schoolies to over slot being caught all the way up to Provincetown, as well as some big bluefish on plugs; distance can be a consideration when they holding off the beaches, but we caught some 20 feet from the shore the other day in the middle of a sunny day. Eels are the easy choice when it comes to fishing for bass on the sand, but Jake recommended dark colored soft plastics from sand eel size up to ones that are good copies of snakes, as well as black, blurple, dark green, silver, dark blue, and pearl/white needlefish and Finnish style minnows such as the Daiwa SP Minnow; Yo-zuri Hydro Minnow LC and Crystal Minnow; Bombers; and Redfins. Another popular beach plug is the Yo-zuri MagDarter, which despite its name isn’t a traditional darter, but more of a hybrid swimmer.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

One thing I learned as a kid when it came to fishing was not to ask questions; now my buddy, Gerry, likes to say that I spend too much time talking about how things were better in the old days, but this is different. I’m not going to say listening instead of asking was necessarily better, but it sure was different. 

You could even argue that I’m just jealous because I didn’t have internet websites to ask questions and get answers or YouTube videos to actually show how to do something. To this day, I have some people that still call for information about where to go or what I think of a certain piece of equipment; when it comes to the former, I typically respond “Point Noneya” which can nicely be translated as “None of Ya Business” although I typically add in a certain naughty word before “Business.”

Questions about equipment are another matter; I know plenty of folks who insist on keeping a certain lure or rigging method to themselves, as if they are protecting Top Secret military information. I was talking with Charlie Richmond a while back and he mentioned how the captains down Cuttyhunk way would curse you out if you lifted a lure out of the water so another skipper could see it – and he laughed when he recalled almost all of them were using the same item – the pig-and-jig, almost all of which were white.

Nobody in my family fished so I picked up a lot of my fishing knowledge as a kid from my next door neighbor, Mr. Al Nichols, who would regale me with tales of his piscatorial exploits, all the while puffing or re-lighting or re-packing his pipe with Prince Albert tobacco – always the stuff in the can. I would guess that Mr. Nichols was in his 70’s back in those days, but he could have been younger than his snow white hair belied. 

The other way I uncovered sharpie secrets was to hang out in local tackle shops, mostly Andy’s in Mashpee. I have always been a gatherer of fishing equipment and it was spots like Andy Labute’s that were a haven for kids who were obsessed with fishing like me. 

Guys like Andy were gods to me and I would poke around the shop, looking at lures or reels that I knew I could not afford, but I gathered wisdom for free was Mr. Labute spoke to other customers. I can still remember the thrill of spying him working the jetty at Cliff Beach in Popponesset for bluefish, working his honey Lamiglas rod and Creek Chub poppers with a “secret” rhythm that seemed to speak directly to the fish. Eventually, I was able purchase my first custom Lami rod from him and matched it up with a Penn 710 Greenie before making the move to a green Abu Cardinal when I discovered that he preferred this piece of Swedish engineering. 

I never forgot the value of listening, even when my tackle shop visits expanded to places such as Eastman’s and Gun and Tackle in Falmouth, as well as the Sports Port in Hyannis, and it still serves me well today.

Getting information about fishing in Cape Cod Bay can be a challenge since there are no shops located on the north shore beyond those that mainly cater to the Canal, although I have to say that these spots are super helpful in steering me straight so I can scribble my reports. 

But sometimes I garner some nuggets simply by hanging around one of these establishments and that proved to be the case when I was chatting with Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Folks have occasionally chastised me for not sharing where I have been fishing or offering up some secret spot, but in all honesty I offer up that same courtesy to charter captains and guides, as well as sand-and-rock hardcores who spend some much time in the dark that they could be mistaken for a coven. 

I have been wondering about how the fishing has been up around Provincetown, especially at the Race and down the backside; I’m chagrined to admit that I haven’t fished Barnstable or any other spot in the bay yet this year, opting for the ease of fishing the shoals on the southside. What I learned from a local charter captain who operates out of Sesuit is that the bass and bluefish action has been solid in that stretch, but one thing that those of us who run center consoles forget is that making that run can be prohibitive in a traditional charterboat that typically does a couple of four hour trips a day out of ports including Sandwich, Barnstable, Sesuit, and Rock Harbor. Most charter boat skippers running diesel powered inboards are cognizant of spending as much time as possible fishing rather than taking a boat ride. 

In his case, as tempting as fishing at the tip might be, he mentioned that he has been staying closer to home and doing just fine in spots such as Billingsgate and the Path, with early, daytime trips the time to use jigs followed by a change to the tube-and-worm in the afternoon or evening. Clearly, folks like this captain are well-versed in how tides and time of day impact water temperatures and feeding behavior of striped bass. 

The word from Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth is that there is a pretty regular change from jigging to the tube-and-worm in the bay throughout the season and based on seaworm sales at his shop, it appears that the latter has been pretty productive at the moment, especially with generally colder water. 

Speaking of water temps, it’s important to keep track of it in terms of what certain bait species prefer and at the moment the push of colder water are bringing with it more mackerel, making for a decent livelining bite; a number of shops have been selling more sabiki rigs, so that is a good indication of what folks are targeting at the moment in terms of bait.

On the other hand, despite a lot of folks holding out hope that the pogy madness along the south shore will happen again, the general lack of really large schools of menhaden is not a promising sign. That said, there are smaller, isolated concentrations, but the folks who are taking advantage of them and the bass underneath are typically on the water pretty much every day and able to keep track of their movements. In fact, Ian Lumsden from Red Top in Buzzards Bay, who fishes the shoreline from Plymouth north as well as the Canal, told me that pretty much the larger body of pogies has moved north up towards the Merrimack; he also said that the water along the beaches is really warm to the point where he was sweating so much in his wetsuit, which he and his buddy and fellow Red Topper, Connor Swartz, use to try and get to deeper, cooler water at night, that he switched over to swim shorts but stayed with his Korkers, which are a must when fishing around slimy, rocky structure.

There are apparently some small bluefish around Wellfleet and according to Jake Mandirola at North Chatham Outfitters, there are still good numbers on the Brewster Flats, although he did say they are getting spookier, It was interesting to hear that he hasn’t been seeing a lot of boats on the flats, only a couple that seem to be there on a regular basis. Jake has been working the deeper edges, following the tides out and then working back towards shore on the incoming, which is the safest – actually the only – way if you are wading the flats in the bay. He has been using a lot of sand eel patterns, especially non-weighted flies on a sinking line with long leaders, often tapering down to 12-pound fluorocarbon. 

For spin anglers, low light conditions – early mornings and dusk into dark – can produce some nice bass on either side of high tide using both unweighted soft plastics and waking style plugs such as spooks are good choices as opposed to poppers, especially if you can’t resistant making a lot of noise with them. 

Even though many shops carry them, there are smaller spooks manufactured by companies that specialize in shallow water angling for seatrout and redfish from Florida to Texas, species that feed on shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans. One company in particular, MirrOlure, is really tuned into the different pitches of this type of bait, as well as the sounds given off by baitfish, but generally folks around here find the rattling of BB’s or other metal balls sufficient. Then again, I know that a number of fly tiers have taken to incorporating rattles into patterns and it could be worthwhile to figure out a way to insert them into the bodies of your favorite soft plastic. 

A good cold flush into Barnstable should benefit the few folks who fish bait at night from shore; Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville said a handful of dedicated folks have been doing well under the cover of darkness, with chunk bait like mackerel or even squid good options, and odds are that they will continue to find fish into the mid-30-inch class. The Sandwich creeks, Barnstable Harbor, and the beaches, inlets, and flats to the east all the way down to Orleans will see incoming water from midnight on starting today, which will not only help night fishing, but with a turn to outgoing early in the morning, odds are there will be some really good topwater action with mainly schoolies chowing on sand eels.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

I’ll keep it simple on the Monomoy front: plenty of fog and plenty of bass up to the mid-30-inch range in the rips. As Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters emphasized, there’s no point in favoring one shoal over another as the action can be hot at Bearses on one stage of the tide and then the hotspot can shift to Stonehorse or Pollock Rip.

There is still some squid in the rips, although not the large numbers of small stuff from a couple of weeks ago. Ken Shwartz fished Monomoy yesterday and told me that they used both olive Epoxy Jigs and 7-inch Originals with equal success, a pretty good sign that the fish were feeding on sand eels. 

Bob Lewis braved the fog earlier this week for a before work trip and caught bass up to 34-inches, with this fish absolutely clobbering a pink fly rod popper. Unlike a lot of flyrodders who opt to fish sinking lines with a variety of squid or sand eel patterns, Bob loves topwater action with poppers and big Gurgler variations tossed on floating lines. 

An observation from Ken Cirillo should be taken into account; he was a guest of Bob Clay and his wife earlier this week and after opting to fish some rips farther north, thereby avoiding the crowds that can from on some of the more popular locations, they passed through Bearses and found bass feeding in the flat water off the rip line. In these situations, although it can be tempting to toss topwater plugs, I have found fishing both unweighted or unweighted sand eel imitations – like the Hogy Sand Eel plastic – or Epoxy Jigs effective. Another option is to go with a pop-and-fly combination; after years of scrambling to remove hooks from a popper or spook so I can add a piece of leader material to the tail of the plug and then tying on a fly or plastic, I now carry hookless plugs that I can rig in a second or even have some of these rigs all ready to go.

Jake pointed out that the incoming tide, which brings colder water, has been producing larger fish, but that can come with a price since it typically increases the fog. 

Speaking of that stuff which can blanket you in an instant out around Chatham and up the backside or, more typically, is present from the moment you leave the dock and grows heavier as you head to the point, I admit that I got spooked the other day and called a trip short when the fog rolled in as the morning progressed. All I ever hear is “You have to get radar” to fish in the fog at Monomoy – or elsewhere for that matter – but the reality is no amount of fancy electronics can substitute for common sense in regard to what speed you run in the fog. I had a long talk with Capt. Mike about radar the other day and was surprised to hear him talk about its limitations, including completely missing another vessel that, given its size, you couldn’t imagine it not marking. From setting the proper range – and in Mike’s case, he has his dialed in for multiple distances – to being able to identify what you are seeing, the reality of radar it is only one tool that can help you safely navigate – and that includes putting your vessel on auto pilot and leaving the helm unmanned.

I don’t have the time to go into as much detail as I would like about the incredible sight I was able to share with Capt. Mike’s sister, Deb, and her family when we leaving Stage Harbor earlier this week; suffice it to say, they got video of seals working schools of pogies. You could hear the pogies ripping out of the water as they fled for their lives and the pinnipeds were breaching everywhere in a well-coordinated assault. 

Later on, when we returned, the seal were still there, but the prevalent bait had shifted to something much smaller, perhaps silversides or sand eels.

Obviously, this amount of bait bodes well for what Jake said is already a solid fishery at Harding’s Beach and up inside Pleasant Bay at spots like Scatteree Beach, as well as at Nauset which this week had “a ton of guys fishing eels at night” off the beach at the main parking area. At one point, Jake continued, there must have been 50 or 60 headlamps lighting up the scene. If you prefer plugging, Jake said keeping pink SP Minnows has been a real challenge, with white and blurple (black/purple) also popular; waking baits are also another popular choice, while a variety of soft plastics are tough to beat. 

The final word I got about the backside beach fishing is that there are a lot of quality bass being caught up around Truro, while the bass and blues around Race Point and Herring Cove continue to move within casting distance of shore anglers


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

According to a number of sources I spoke with this week, recremercial anglers have been running between the two bays – Cape Cod and Buzzards – based on where they believe they have the best shot at catching bass at or above their 35-inch minimum.

In either case, mackerel are the baitfish garnering this attention, making CC Bay your best overall bet for finding bass due to its consistently lower water temperatures.

Ken Shwartz, who lives in Mattapoisett and does water quality testing for the Buzzards Bay Coalition – a group dedicated to studying and improving water quality in this bay -, told me that according to the recent sea surface temperature chart provided by Rutgers University, the surface water temperatures in both bays is about the same.

Of course, if you fish these two bodies of water, it is pretty well understood that in July and August, the water in Cape Cod Bay is generally cooler, especially if we get a couple of days of northeast wind or a current break from out beyond Stellwagen that draws in even colder water. 

So why would the water temperatures be about the same at the moment? Well, it’s all about the word “surface” since in Buzzards Bay, the mean average depth is 36 feet, while Cape Cod Bay ranges from 10 to 32 fathoms – or 60 to 192 feet, with a maximum depth of 206-feet. Obviously, the depths closer to shore in CCB are much shallower, as anyone who have fished off the Sandwich creeks and Sandy Neck, to the west, or from East Bar/Chapin’s and heading east to the Brewster Flats can tell you. CCB also covers 604 square miles while BB is much smaller at 250 square miles.

What this means to us as fisherpersons is that Cape Cod Bay has far more deep, cooler water than Buzzards Bay and that’s where the bass and – just as importantly – the mackerel, which are the primary forage at the moment, are holding. And unlike last summer when a massive concentration of pogies drove an incredibly long stretch of action in the waters from Manomet north to Boston, it is the macks that are key to most of the great fishing at the moment.

The word from Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore is that mackerel are still being jigged up around the east entrance to the Canal – when they’re not in the land cut itself – making for some decent livelining action, but other folks are opting for either dropping soft plastic paddletail jigs down to the fish that are holding under the schools of macks or even opting for jigging wire and jigs. 

Rain can be another factor that impacts water temperature and I imagine that at times it can do so more dramatically than air temperature, but I’d have to ask an oceanographer to confirm that. With five days straight of rain and thunderstorms, it should be interesting what this front produces. 

All this talk about how water temperature and atmospheric conditions impact gamefish movement and feeding is obviously something to consider, but as mentioned earlier, bait movement and availability are also affected and that may be even more significant. 

But the one angling method that really comes into its own this time of year around the Cape – and especially up in CC Bay – is the tube-and-worm, apparently even around areas where the fish are feeding mainly on mackerel. 

In fact, over at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay and Monument Beach, there has been an increase in fishing the tube-and-worm, noted Morgan Hopwood, as well as an uptick in the call for what “tubing worms,” or larger versions that stream longer and make a better target for a hungry bass.

Nobody has been able to adequately explain to my limited brain what bait a big piece of red, orange, black, or amber/motor oil surgical tubing imitates in terms of forage that bass pursue. I’ve heard plenty of theories about why the tube works and what it imitates, but I suspect it has as much to do with how the action of the tube attracts attention and a nice, juicy seaworm seals the deal. I would add that given increased water temperatures relative to those in June, the bass are definitely lazier and given the slower approach of the tube-and-worm, it makes an ideal option.

Don’t be mistaken into thinking that tubing is a shallower water option; weighted tubes worked on wire line can get down in the water column, albeit not to depths that a heavy bucktail jig on wire or the newer Mojo rig can.

Trolling certainly works when you are targeting scattered fish, but if you do mark a concentrated school of bass feeding on mackerel or sand eels, a multi-purpose jig like the Hogy Sand Eel, Hogy Epoxy Jig or Hogy Flutter Jig work great. You can even opt for a heavier paddletail like the Hogy Protail Paddle or even the Protail Eel, although they won’t get as deep as quickly as the aforementioned jig varieties. 

Heck, I even still resort to rigging up a Hogy Seven-Inch Original on a jighead if I want a slimmer profile lure in more of an attractor color like pink, white, or amber as opposed to the olive that the Protail Eel comes in. There can be little argument that pre-rigged plastics are convenient and incredibly effective, but unrigged soft plastics like the Original series allows me to work all levels of the water column, including surface presentations when the bass are chowing on sand eels in the shallows or have corralled mackerel up top. Rig them on a weighted swimbait or offset work hook and you have a great option for subsurface work, although I believe the heaviest weighted swimbait hook option is ¾ ounces; for deeper casting or jigging work, you will have to opt for a jighead. I will allow that some folks believe that rigging your own soft plastics on jigheads for deep work is outdated, but I prefer to think of it as old school It’s more hands on and along with other rigging options, gives me the flexibility to adjust to any given scenario.

In all honesty, I’m not much of a vertical jig angler, but I was reminded by Morgan Hopwood of the importance of how you drop your jigs down, Now, In Morgan’s case he was talking about the challenges of getting a bunker spoon to fall without fluttering and planing up in the water column, but it’s the same with lures targeted for vertical jigging, especially those that have more of a spoon shape as opposed to a streamlined, chiseled shape. The key is stopping the lure’s descent at times to feel how it is working, as well as other tricks that would make a great Hogy tutorial video (hint, hint!).

Over around Billingsgate, there are still mainly smaller fish, making it even more challenging for folks to come up with something that fits in the slot so they can take dinner home. It is pretty common for folks to move to the northern, deeper edges of the shoals as conditions get warmer, often switching to jigging wire and heavier bucktail jigs.

Barnstable Harbor, even in the doldrums of summer, is a solid bet to hold some early morning schoolie bass action for folks in small boats and kayaks who like to throw small topwater plugs and soft plastics; I especially like an early morning outgoing tide – I’m talking before first light – but this weekend the tide will be incoming early in the morning, although an influx of cooler water in the morning and again in the evening can kick off some hectic feeding.

According to Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville, people chunking mackerel from shore up inside Barnstable at night have been catching a good number of bass, especially if there is higher water.

There is definitely a dichotomy when it comes to fishing the shallows and flats from Chapin’s east; according to Sarge at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth, folks are using cut bait around Mayflower, Corporation, and Paine’s Creek Beaches, for example, at night, while Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters on Route 28 in – you guessed it! – North Chatham spoke glowingly of the sight fishing on the Brewster Flats. It’s not uncommon to see a good number of boats on the flats at high water, but honestly in most cases they are just spooking the fish during daylight hours, especially now that they have been on the flats for a while; I certainly understand the challenge of targeting bass – especially big bass – in shallow water, but if you follow the posts of wading guides such as Chris Kokorda and listen to the enthusiasm for this fishery from folks like Jake, you realize daytime is wade time.

On the other hand, trolling or casting along the deep edges where the flats drop off into deep water – in places a mile or more from shore – is a good daytime activity and at night boaters can anchor up and fish bait in the deeper channels of the flats as long as they keep in mind the tide if it is dropping so they don’t get stranded – at worst – or scuff up their prop and skeg at best. Each year, anglers on foot try to fish the flats at night, but this is a dangerous practice as you can get trapped by a rising tide with water too deep to wade through to get back to shore or become disoriented if the fog rolls in or a combination of the two. 

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Last Saturday’s Osterville Anglers’ Club Ladies’ Shoal Troll was a huge success, according to Bob Lewis, with 110 anglers fishing from 28-boats, with 66 fish weighed in. A good number of boats went to Monomoy and some to Nantucket, but they also have a category where a winner is named “Queen of the ‘Shoe” for catching the largest fish a Horseshoe Shoal. But as Bob explained, while any tournament has a competitive aspect, this event is all about having a good time and fishing with friends – and they once again raised a lot of money for breast cancer research.

It really should come as no surprise that the top three bluefish were all larger than any of the bass weighed in; with the slot limit of 28 to less than 31-inches, Bob noted that there was about a half pound between any of the bass, from the first place fish to those that weren’t in the top three. This raises a question about whether it’s worth including bass in a tournament that given the minimal weight differences, but even more importantly, why target fish that fall into the 2015-year class, at the moment the last, best hope we have for a striped bass stock recovery?

In any case, congratulations to all of the lady anglers, the sponsors, and the captains who provided such a great day on the water.

Ladies Shoal Troll

July 8, 2023

Tournament Results


Striped Bass
Angler Weight Boat
First Mary Hooks 11.20 Stray Cat
Second Tess Dooley 11.15 Hammer Head
Third Judi 11.05 Miss Behavin
Angler Weight Boat
First Rachel Dwyer 13.65 Thresher
Second Lexi Bourque 13.50 Linda Lou
Third Morgan Cirillo 12.80 2nd Shift



Striped Bass
Angler Weight Boat
First Addie Vecchione 10.45 Ty One On
Second Ryan Swaylik 9.00 First Nichol
Third Gianna Linoleares 8.55 Knot Today
Angler Weight Boat
First Savannah Farrell 10.90 Thresher
Second Eva Magee 10.70 Three Little Birds
Third Ryan Swaylik 10.35 First Nichol


Angler Weight Boat
Aly Betti 11.80 Aly Mae


Now, according to Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters, the Monomoy shoals are not only producing plenty of slot sized bass on surface plugs like the Hogy Charter Grade Poppers or Sliders, soft plastics, and flies, but also fish up to the high 30-inch class. Although the fog did dissipate in the sounds as this week progressed, the Chatham/Monomoy area is known for fog throughout the season and in many cases this causes boats – especially those without radar – to huddle up in an area with better visibility.

That’s what Ken Shwartz found yesterday, with a lot of boats at Bearses while a fog bank held in place around Pollock Rip Channel. 

Speaking of Pollock Rip, I had relayed to me an incident that took place at Pollock Rip Channel, where a charter captain that a good friend of mine knows was almost run down by a large offshore style boat doing well over 30-knots missed him by about three-feet, according to the captain of the charterboat. This clown never even slowed or acknowledged the presence of his boat; I can only imagine how spooked he was at first and then furious at the other operator. Combined with the collision last Saturday at the Dump, I am convinced that over reliance on radar and failure to monitor and learn how to use it, as well as the tendency of some boat operators to leave the helm when using auto pilot, has made boating more dangerous than ever before. 

To get back to Ken’s trip, like many people, he uses the internet to provide tide information and peak periods for fishing, but when he go to Bearses he was surprised to see that the current and corresponding rips were making up so strongly. Ken found it interesting that while he expected the rips to be on the quieter side due to what he read were weaker tides, instead they were imposing enough to give Ken pause and consider whether his 28-foot Parker would get swamped if he went through stern to.

In any case, the friends he had aboard were inexperienced anglers and they just wanted to catch fish, so Ken made the wise decision to go with olive Epoxy Jigs and they caught a lot of nice bass, once again confirming what I believe: while most folks associate rip fishing with squid blowing out of the water and bass chasing them, overall there are probably as many times when the fish are feeding on sand eels around Monomoy – or Middle Ground, Wasque, or any shoal.

As the current slowed and with it the action, they moved more towards Stonehorse, where Ken marked a large number of bass in deeper water off the shoal and they used heavy, four to five-ounce jigs to get the 30 or so feet down to where the fish were holding.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Interesting goings on in Cape Cod Bay as the summer season kicks into high gear with plenty of heat, humidity, and more boats than you can count on the water. 

When I checked yesterday, 19% of the 2023 quota had been filled, or about 133,000 pounds. Apparently, many of those fish came in the first weeks of the recremercial season when there were large schools of bass at and above the 35-inch limit that individuals with the proper permits can keep and sell. And, yes, I will always refuse to call this fishery a commercial enterprise since so many people who participate in it have no business being called “commercial” since they derive a pittance of their income from fishing, using the money they make to pay for gas, new electronics, and other goodies. It would be interesting to see how many people who sell bass actually declare the money they make on their taxes; in reality, it should be pretty easy to track given that wholesalers have to provide documentation to the state of the license numbers of the individuals who bring fish to their markets or trucks that pick up fish at, primarily, waterfront locations – although I once saw one of these trucks picking up a load of sea bass in the parking lot behind a now defunct Cumberland Farms on Main Street in Falmouth.

You want to be called a commercial fisherman, prove it by making the kind of commitment that someone has to make in New York, where someone has to turn over his or her taxes and show that a minimum of 80% of his or her income comes from commercial fishing. But I’m just holding my breath in a state where the Division of Marine Fisheries primary concern is the money that can be derived from sales of commercial licenses and the various tags that have to be purchased for each species someone wants to catch – unless the sale of tags/licenses for a given species is closed. 

The word this week, however, is that many recremercials have moved their operation to Cape Cod Bay; in fact, Jeff Miller from Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said the one guy who sells bass that he spoke to is now trolling the tube-and-worm in the bay, as opposed to the waters from the west entrance to the Canal out to and beyond Bird Island where many folks like him had been working over a couple of schools of truly big fish. 

Now, that doesn’t mean the pogies aren’t still around the stretch of upper Buzzards Bay from Wareham over to Westport; in fact, I check with someone whom I trust about whether these baitfish are still around in the same numbers they had been for several weeks. He confirmed that they are; in fact, he added that the couple of guys that he sees regularly tossing cast nets for pogies – or menhaden or bunker or whatever you like to call them where you live – are still there. Odds are that these are bait guys who sell to local tackle shops that still carry fresh iced pogies; clearly, I have been out of the loop when it comes to how many shops carry them. It seems like ages ago, but when there was a huge bass fishery in Vineyard Sound involving live pogies – including the controversial and now outlawed method known as yo-yoing – it seemed that every shop was carrying coolers filled with fresh iced pogies. 

In fact, I decided to check around and gave the good folks at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay to see if they still carry fresh pogies and the fellow that answered the phone said they would have them tomorrow. Now, back in the day, when chunking and chumming pogies was huge, Maco’s would ship coolers of fresh dead pogies over to the Vineyard during the Derby and they would sell like hotcakes. But when I spoke to Doug Asselin at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs, he said that carry fresh frozen pogies, but not the fresh caught and iced pogies that once ruled the day. As Doug explained, with the downturn in the bass population, leading to fewer folks commercially or recreationally chumming and chunking pogies, as well as the removal of the striper as an eligible species in the Derby, there isn’t really any major call for the freshies. 

The major challenge when it comes to pogy fishing is the up-and-down nature of their abundance in any given location; apparently, the Vineyard pogy population at the moment is way off, leading some folks who just have to fish them – it truly can become an obsession – making the run from the island to the upper reaches of Buzzards Bay to net them and then bring them back to be fished live or fresh dead. 

Jeff added that to the “Here One Season Gone The Next” pogy saga by saying that unlike last year when there was a ridiculously huge number of pogies around Manomet, with good numbers north of there up to Boston Harbor, this year the bass that are staging outside the east entrance to the Canal from Scusset to Plymouth are feeding on mackerel, whose numbers inside and outside the Canal are holding strong. 

No matter where the schools of larger bass are and what they are feeding on, the one method that seems to be working everywhere from the east entrance down along Sandwich, around Barnstable, and the shallows from Chapin’s to the Brewster Flats, is the aforementioned tube-and-worm, with both recreational and recremercial folks dragging mainly red versions at the moment; that said, the fish could turn on to orange, motor oil/amber, and black at any time, and although it would make for an interesting topic for an aspiring marine scientist working on their doctorate to research, all I know is that folks who take tubing seriously carry a variety of colors, as well as different sizes and weighted/unweighted versions. 

Along with your traditional bucktail jig/pork rind set up that folks turn to in the entrance channel to Barnstable and the deeper edges of Billingsgate Shoal as the water warms in the bay, the tube-and-worm will work there as well and Sarge at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth added that deep diving swimmers are still producing fish in these areas, as well as up from Wellfleet to Provincetown. 

Then again, it’s hard to beat livelining mackerel anywhere the bass are chowing on these baitfish; along with the increased numbers that are hanging outside the Canal and up the south shore, folks are still using livies around Barnstable and from Wellfleet up to Provincetown.

Along with the boat fishing using mackerel from Scusset north, Ian Lumsden added that shore anglers are also doing well fishing bait as well as large swimming plugs and plastics at night and topwater plugs around first light. 

Sarge from Riverview agreed that bait is a good way to go, but added that big spook style plugs like the new Hogy Charter Grade 

And Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville reminded me that while Barnstable Harbor is a great spot for targeting early morning action on schoolies for boat anglers, there is still a good night bite up inside the harbor for shore folks, especially those using chunk mackerel. 

It’s the same story along Sandy Neck and the Sandwich beaches closer to the Canal; it’s always a good bet that flyrodders and light tackle anglers will do well all summer long at night in the Sandwich creeks on schoolies and the occasional larger bass, but chunk baits – mainly mackerel, but pogies as well – are top choices, with some folks opting for live eels. 

I didn’t hear much about bluefish yet in the bay, but with plenty of bait around, they should be making a two pronged attack in the coming weeks; whether through the Canal or around the tip of the outer Cape, as the bass fishing starts to slow, the blues should start to provide more action for folks trolling swimming plugs around the north edge of Billingsgate and the drop-offs between Eastham and Truro.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Well, I got to see for myself what Jake Mandirola from North Chatham Outfitters has been saying about Monomoy, where there are bass pretty much everywhere in the rips, feeding on squid throughout both tides. Typically, I always carry a couple of outfits set up with Hogy Originals in case the topwater bite is slow, but on Wednesday I didn’t have to use anything else but Hogy Charter Grade Poppers in amber and Albie Crack as we had bass on top for six hours straight. Most of the fish were below the 35-inch recremercial minimum, which I could tell was frustrating the few “money” boats I saw out there, but it must have been worse when we caught one of the larger fish that we released, meaning that was one less fish they could sell.

Bob Lewis had warned me about the fog in that area and he wasn’t kidding as we were in the soup all day, only getting a clear view of the island once we made the turn at the point and headed for Stage Harbor. Bob has provided me with some really great photos of the fishing he has experienced out there lately, both on spin and fly; he ties a great big squid Gurgler that he got the recipe for from another fly angler and has been generous enough to provide me with some of these creations, as well as big Tabory Snake flies that he ties in bright orange, pink, and white, all of which do a great job of imitating squid. While plenty of fish are caught using squid flies on sinking lines, Bob really likes to use floating lines, providing the same kind of surface action that the Hogy poppers and Dog Walkers provide. 

Be assured that weekends out east are going to be a wild west show, especially if there is fog around; I had a number of boats come racing out of the murkiness and it’s a good idea to have everyone on board scanning a different quadrant and determining some kind of signal they can use to warn the captain if they spy something he or she might have missed.

I had an interesting discussion with someone regarding the benefits of radar, which I can’t argue with its advantages but only if someone is monitoring it at all times. That really isn’t a problem if you are running since the captain can keep an eye on it, but when fishing there is plenty of activity that might cause him or her to turn away from the electronics and miss a mark on the screen. Modern electronics have their place for sure, but they should not be considered a substitute for good, safe seamanship and common sense when on the water.

As someone who doesn’t live on the outer Cape, I appreciate the access that towns like Chatham provide to fishermen; I see anglers working around Harding’s Beach and the entrance to Stage Harbor every time I go out, no matter if it is morning, midday, or night. Jake has mentioned Scatteree Beach as a good spot for shore anglers to target fish up inside Pleasant Bay and he confirmed that it is open to the public, which is great to see given how many upper and mid-Cape towns lock up their beaches at night, eliminating the opportunities for shore anglers to fish during the night, which anyone will tell you is prime time throughout the season, but especially in the high days of summer. 

Even the National Seashore does its best to accommodate beach anglers; on their website, they advise that Park parking lots close at midnight. If you wish to park and fish between the hours of 12 AM and 6 AM when lots are closed, you may apply for a night fishing parking permit at a visitor center. That seems like a pretty reasonable plan, but I can’t say for sure if there are any limits on the number of parking permits. According to the few hardcore shore anglers I know who fish the Seashore beaches, as well as Nauset, the bass fishing has been pretty consistent at night, with swimmers and needlefish traditional choices in terms of pluggage, but soft plastics are equally effective, especially for less experienced anglers. Thinner profile versions such as the smaller Hogy Originals and, of course, the Hogy Sand Eels are excellent choices, whether fished unweighted or weighted using jigheads or weighted swimbait hooks. One thing I especially like about unweighted soft plastics is that they prove that casting distance shouldn’t always be your first priority when fishing the outer Cape beaches; I can still recall the late, great Tony Stetzko laughing about how people he guided would often race into the water and start casting, at which point he would tell them to look back where the fish were holding in the troughs and sloughs that they just splashed through.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

With the Fourth upon us, marking what is really the official start of summer here on the Cape, the fishing patterns and quality has definitely started to change around the Cape, starting with Cape Cod Bay.

According to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, the larger schools of mackerel off the east entrance to the Canal have definitely moved into deeper water out towards the Provincetown/Stellwagen area, leading to more tube-and-worm fishing throughout the area. Many people mistakenly associate this incredibly effective trolling technique with the shallower water stretches between the Sandwich creeks and Barnstable Harbor, but it is also employed farther east between Sesuit and even on Billingsgate.

One way of telling if the tubes are working is from reports of seaworm sales at local tackle shops and that was the word from Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth who emphasized that the number of worms leaving the shop has increased significantly. Earlier in the season, this is typically associated with winter flounder fishing, but with action on the flatfish continuing to tail off, there is little doubt that it’s pretty much all about the latex at the moment.

Another error that people make regarding tubing is that it is mainly a shallower, quieter water operation. Capt. Mike proved its effectiveness in one of his videos a while back in the high days of summer in Woods Hole, an area certainly known for strong currents and I was introduced to fishing these waters back in the mid 80’s by my friend Bill Nealon where we didn’t even keep the boat in gear, but ran uptide, streamed our wire, and the just used the current to provide the perfect speed to make them work their magic. 

Like most tubers, Capt. Mike wasn’t using wire line in his video, but we did because Bill knew the fish were holding in a short, deep hole and with the stronger stage of the current, we had to stream our lines and get it to the proper depth quickly.

On the other hand, the good captain and his fishing partner that day, Capt. Nat Chalkley, were using shots of LC-13, a lead core fly line that gets down really quickly; just to make sure, I checked the website of the Cortland Line company – which I know mainly for producing high quality fly lines along with other fishing products – to see if they still make LC-13 and they do, from short 30-foot shots for fly anglers to use as part of a shooting head system to both 100 and 500-foot spools that will allow to fill your tubing reels. 

I don’t know if LC-13 sinks faster than traditional lead core line, but I always liked its slicker surface; apparently, it also behaves better in colder water – obviously not a concern in the heat of summer and early fall around these parts when it is used to tube. 

But perhaps the best part of using LC-13 or other lead core line is the ease of handling, unlike wire lines that just spring off the reel spool and create kinked messes when let out by inexperienced anglers who have yet to develop a trained thumb. In addition, lead core lines can be used on level wind reels, allowing for proper spooling of the line when it is reeled back in through the use of a mechanical device, as opposed to once again having the “feel” of moving the line back-and-forth across the spool to avoid having it jam up against the spool edges or lay unevenly in humps, the latter often resulting in lost fish because the line had crossed and couldn’t be paid out when a big fish took drag. The one caveat I have to offer regarding using level wind reels should be an obvious one, but if the swivel or knot you use to connect leader to main line is too large or bulky, it can jam on the level wind. Fortunately, there are new style swivels like the Spro Heavy model that is designed for wind on leaders that are reeled right through the guides and in smaller sizes will go through a level wind mechanism; these swivels are also super strong for their size – they were originally only available for commercial use and are popular among tuna anglers – and help reduce line twist, although I could not find out if they employ ball bearings like the Spro Power swivel. 

Tubes come weighted and unweighted, so along with the type of line they are streamed on, they can be worked at different depths, but beyond the rigging and handling advantages, the best part of tube-and-worm fishing is how relaxing it is. Unlike jigging wire – which I like to joke is employed by many charter operations because it tires the clients out faster – tubing is not physically taxing and anyone can do it. You don’t even have to hold the rod; in fact, there are plenty of folks who believe that it is best to place the rod in a holder – especially the T-style custom designs that are placed in the boats’ rod holders, placing the rod at a 90-degree angle to the hull, thereby keeping the lines separated by a greater distance, resulting in fewer tangles, especially when turning, which many inexperienced boaters do way too sharply. 

Keeping the rod in holder also often results in more hook ups since a fish will often whack the worm on the tube and then come back to finish it off; if you set on that first hit, you can either help the fish rip the worm completely off the hook or pull it away in an unnatural manner, leading to a fish losing interest.

As Bruce added, you can also tube effectively with braided line and a weighted tube; this set up allows you to do what Mr. Miller likes to call “dropping the tube” right on the fish’s head. I don’t do any trolling or have radar on my boat, so my knowledge of how to use electronics to locate fish in the water or birds in the air is very limited in regard to the former and non-existent when it comes to the latter, but I know this equipment is effective in the right hands. When it comes to “dropping the tube,” Bruce is talking about seeing a school of fish or even a single big fish on your electronics – perhaps at a depth below where your lures are running -, taking the boat out of gear, and then feeding a weighted tube right down to where the fish is holding. 

You can also do that with lead core outfits, but the advantage of braid outfits is that you can have one set up that will allow for casting, fishing bait, and trolling – although I can imagine Capt. Mike and I getting into a “discussion” about whether you can cast lead core – similar to previous times when talking about “What makes a fly a fly?” or “How does catch-and-release fishing with live bait – especially eels – make sense?”

The final issue regarding tubes is how to achieve the right bend to create the best fish attracting action and that’s where Capt. Hogan put his creativity to work in creating the Hogy Perfect Tube; his design eliminates the need for trying to figure out what size can to wrap a tube around to get the right bend or even tweaking one by hand to get it to swim “right.” They also feature ball bearing swivels that help reduce line twist, as opposed to having to add additional hardware on the line, and the Hogy In Line Trolling Weight not only adds additional weight and includes its own ball bearing swivel, a really nice piece of hardware if you elect to go with a braided line trolling outfit that just can’t get a tube down to where the big fish are holding in cooler water.

Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis did say that there are enough mackerel around Barnstable that folks are still doing some livelining, but as it becomes more difficult to locate live bait, it isn’t uncommon for folks to switch over to the pig-and-jig. And remember that in CC Bay, that means more traditional style bucktail or even faux hair jigs as opposed to the parachute jig style that is favored on the shoals in the sounds. 

Deep diving swimmers like the new Hogy Charter Grade Swimming Plug will also allow you to cover more and deeper water, which to me is perhaps the greatest advantage of trolling for bass, especially if you come across them feeding on schools of large forage fish such as mackerel, pogies, or herring.

But whether you are trolling around Billingsgate, the Fingers, the Path, or the drop-offs around the Brewster Flats or casting inside Barnstable or the flats around Sandy Neck, off East Bar, or Brewster, keep in mind that sand eels are perhaps the most prevalent forage in the bay and soft plastics – whether unweighted or weighted with jigheads, weighted swimbait hooks – are tough to beat when it comes to versatility of size, profile, and color. Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville is also in regular contact with some folks who are huge fans of early morning plugging with smaller spooks and poppers inside Barnstable, with a first light outgoing tide tough to beat. 

If you can gain access, the bay shoreline is also still fishing well, Mr. Miller said, with chunk mackerel popular with some folks from Sandwich to Barnstable and down Yarmouth and Dennis way, but clams can be effective as well. In terms of artificials, from the open beaches, Bruce again referred to larger spooks and pencil poppers around first light, but some of the best action occurs at night on dark soft plastics and slimmer profile swimmers, what I most often refer to as Finnish style swimming plugs. Although both of these types of lures are somewhat limited in terms of casting distance, with some plug manufacturers more recently having devised weighting systems for more distance for what they call their “long cast” models, the reality is that when fishing at night, whether around quiet water and sand beaches or heavy white water and sticky structure, the fish are often literally at your feet in the troughs picking at sand eels or amongst the close in boulder fields, chowing on disoriented baitfish, crabs, or even baby lobsters.

This week’s heat and humidity are also impacting water temperatures around the bayside outer Cape beaches, making bait perhaps a better option – although South Sunken Meadow and the shallows up around Wellfleet and Truro will still be holding bass and increasing numbers of bluefish at night on swimmers, soft plastics and shallow running glide baits with the first light hours worth a change over to pencil poppers.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Before I get into the obvious and talk about Monomoy – ah, the heck with it: the rips are great according to everyone from shops in the mid-Cape to those in Chatham, including North Chatham Outfitters where Jake Mandirola said there are mainly bass up the mid-30-inch class feeding on both squid and sand eels. The topwater bite has been fantastic, but Jake did say you definitely want moving water and you might have to move around to find which shoal is producing the best action.

That was the case with Bob Lewis who fished in the fog last Friday and they. Picked at some bass in a number of spots, but eventually he and his crew happened upon a piece of white water that was classic: gulls working over squid blasting out of the water in an attempt to get away from hungry bass. The next morning, Bob left Cotuit in the dark and they had the area all to themselves and the fishing was off the charts, to the point where his nephews Hunter and Austin and his good friend Ken Cirillo were all hooked up. In fact, Bob sent me a cool photo of the nephews hooked up on the fly to port and starboard at the stern with Ken in between. 

Some nice bass continue to be caught up around Scatteree Beach on Pleasant Bay, but this is again a night time activity, Jake emphasized, while the flats fishing only gets better and better for flyrodders and light tackle anglers using natural colored sand eel profile soft plastics, as well as bright attractor versions such as pink or bright white. 

One of the challenges of writing about the outer Cape is the dearth of shops from Eastham north – or at least ones that are willing to talk. That’s why I really appreciated hearing from Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth about some good fishing from Nauset to Provincetown at the moment; you’re going to have to work for the fish and that means walking the backside to get to the most productive spots, as opposed to just parking and finding the fish right at your feet. Needlefish and Finnish style swimmers are tops on the list of outer backside beach regulars, along with a variety of soft plastics.



In this video, Capt. Mike joins Capt. Rob Lowell of Cape Cod Offshore Charters for a day of fluke fishing out in Nantucket Sound. This video was filmed in early June and the Fluke fishing was still heating up, but the crew still managed to have a successful day on the water. From locating fish to proper gear and technique, Capt. Mike walks through everything you need to know for your next trip to the fluke grounds!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

 A number of the folks I spoke to this week discussed the issue of shore access on the Cape and islands. In that vein, when I spoke to Bruce and Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore this week, they mentioned that some quality bass have been caught recently from the Sandwich sand, especially the beaches west of Scorton Creek and I immediately questioned how shore folks were able to access this area. Their explanation: these are folks who rent a house on the beach, giving them access to quality fishing for the week or so they are there. Jeff added that a number of these groups are from Europe, including England, Ireland, and Scandinavia who have become very familiar with our outstanding early season fishing. In fact, one of these anglers recently caught a fish in the 30-pound class on a large soft plastics at night. Dark colors are clearly in order, but Jeff did emphasize that during times of the full or bright moon, white or bone work really well. 

Back in the day, we used to rig the Hogy Originals with 7/0 and 11/0 Owner offset work hooks, but nowadays more and more folks are using the swimbait style offerings for ease of rigging. That said, I like to reminisce about the days when Mike made his tandem rigging to simplify what was essentially rigging a large soft plastic the way one would a rigged eel with Dacron, hooks, glue, and knots along with some special weighting. I guess I like to go back there because Kate and I used to spend some long hours at the kitchen table making up Mike’s tandem hook rigs and packaging them up for sale as is or taking the time to actually rig his Originals, which back then ranged from seven to an amazing 18-inches. Good times.

Anyways, the word from Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port is that folks fishing up inside Barnstable Harbor are still catching good numbers of all sizes of bass, from schoolies to 40+-inch fish. Again, big soft plastics at night work great, even when the fish are feeding on sand eels and other small forage, but both wooden metal lips and Finnish style plastic swimmers are very effective from dusk to dawn, whether you work from shore or drift along in a shallow draft boat – such as an old school tin boat – that is perfect for this kind of work. And don’t forget your spooks in all conditions and poppers from first light on; just put away the bluefish cast-and-rip and, instead, learn to wake and swim them in order to coax one of those amazing blow ups from a big, lazy old bass. 

You can certainly turn to chunk bait such as mackerel or pogies this time of year or even – dare I say it on Salty Cape – a live eel, but from what Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth told me, more folks using bait fishing from the open beaches along the bay, such as Sandy Neck and from East Bar down to the Brewster Flats, with the latter requiring high water if you are going to fish from shore. More common is wade and sight fishing techniques employed by fly anglers using a variety of crab, sand eel, shrimp, and other flies that mimic sandy bottom forage. I do know folks who fish swimming plugs and soft plastics in low light conditions in the shallows at night while wading, but remember that fast rising tides, fog, deep channels, and the like make this type of fishing the province of the regulars. And although most folks would only associate this piece of equipment with a boat, always carry a compass when working the northside flats, day and especially in the dark when fog can get you easily disoriented if you are in the habit of following the dropping tide out on the flats – which can take you a mile or more out into the water – and then working your way back in as the tide pushes in.

South Sunken Meadow continues to fish well for the beach folks as well, noted Dana Grim at North Chatham Outfitters; I learned a long time ago that fishing chunk mackerel and other types of bait is popular here and around a number of other beaches that front the bay between Eastham and Truro. Plug fishing, however, can also be very good in this stretch, especially for big bluefish, with pencil poppers often used to garner distance to reach where the fish are holding on shallower, sloping beaches, while at night – especially on times of high water – a variety of sand eel imitating Finnish style swimmers and needlefish work well – as well as small to medium size soft plastics.

For the Cape Cod Boat crew, lots of options remain in play, from mainly bass up to the slot and slightly beyond at Billingsgate, with Lee emphasizing that trolling deep diving swimmers remains in play with no real need to turn to wire and jigs just yet. There are enough mackerel off of Barnstable to keep the liveliners happy, but jigging bucktails is a good alternative and I would be interested in to see a video – hint, hint! – on the use of Hogy’s Charter Grade Swimming Plugs in the deeper water of the channel thereabouts. I know Capt. Mike had a good trip using them up in Boston Harbor this week and when you have big baits around such as mackerel, pogies, shad, or even sea herring, these could very well “crack the code” as a good friend of mine likes to say.

There are enough mackerel outside the east end of the Canal to make livelining effective, but some folks continue to do well with chrome bunker spoons, deep diving swimmers, and paddletail soft plastics in a variety of – what else? – mackerel colorations. But it is also tube-and-worm time from these waters down along Sandwich to Barnstable, as well as on-and-off the flats – based on the stage of the tide, obviously, requiring both weighted and unweighted tubes in your collection.

One change that has impacted the “recremercial” fleet, according to Bull MacKinnon at Red Top in Buzzards, is that the few schools of pogies that were hanging around Manomet and Plymouth have moved north up from Minot Light into Boston Harbor, dragging the larger bass that these folk seek with them.


Open Water Trolling for Big Striped Bass!

The Salty Cape crew joined Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters. The crew steams out from Sandwich Marina into Cape Cod Bay in hopes of finding big Striped Bass in open water. The goal was to put the new Hogy Charter Grade Swimming Plugs to the test in an open water trolling scenario for big Striped Bass. The name of the game was utilizing the RayMarine radar to locate flocks of birds diving on bait with the big Striped Bass holding beneath. If you like big Striped Bass then you’re in for a treat with this video. Enjoy!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Lots of alternatives if you want to target striped bass in the bay at the moment, from livelining mackerel to the tube-and-worm to tossing plugs or fishing bait from shore.

Fathers Day weekend is here! All you Dads out there, now is a great time to get out on the water and catch some fish! {PC: Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing}

Bruce and Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reported that between the east entrance to the Canal out to just beyond the green entrance channel markers, livelining has been very productive on larger fish; of course, the key is being able to find the schools of mackerel. Jeff noted that some folks commented that they could have “loaded up” on mackerel, although what that number of fish meant to them wasn’t clear. What I was left wondering is how many recreational anglers are aware that there is a 20 fish bag limit for mackerel and that applies to whether you are using them for bait or for food. 

Capt. Mike has often – well, let’s just say every time we talk – tweaked me for “catch-and-release” live eel fishing; after all, as he says, “What makes a striped bass more important than an eel?” In the same way, any livelining of one species – whether it is a mackerel, scup, or pogy for a bass or a bluefish or groundfish for tuna or sharks – raises that question. In my mind, I don’t see the enjoyment in livelining and perhaps that is due to my not participating in this type of fishing. Back when using river herring for bait was legal, I spoke to plenty of anglers who regaled me with their tales about the thrill of putting an alewife or blueback on a hook and seeing it flipping and scooting across the surface of the water before disappearing as if it had been flushed down a toilet; heck, I even wrote a number of articles in which I interviewed folks who couldn’t stop talking about using “striper candy.”

But it’s kind of nice to think that there are artificial alternatives that provide more of a challenge than live bait fishing. Now, I would never argue that they are more effective because, as the old song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell puts it, “Ain’t nothing like the real thing,” but the creation of larger, life-like soft plastic baits has definitely changed the game. While the origins of soft plastics goes back to freshwater use with the Crème Wiggle Worm in 1949, big saltwater paddletails like the Hogy Protail Paddle have virtually eliminated the need for locating, procuring, and keeping bait alive. 

Obviously, snagging-and-dropping a live bait right down to the gamefish that is following the bait simplifies the process in comparison to getting your bait in one spot and then transporting it to another. Plastic lures also allow you to more accurately match the size of the baitfish, with bass at times even turning up their noses at a horse mackerel, for example, when they are keyed in on spikes or tinkers. While livelining is often done in shallow water where depth doesn’t play a large role, another advantage of big soft plastics like the Hogy series is their internal weighting that will allow you to fish in deeper water where the action is happening. 

Looking back, I can recall that a number of devoted herring liveliners stopped fishing when the state banned the taking of these baitfish, which I never understood. What I do know is that right now in Cape Cod Bay, I can target any bass with a Hogy soft plastic based on what they are feeding on.

Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis told me that the livelining mackerel action remains steady around Barnstable Harbor and that means that big paddletails are an excellent choice. There are multitude of soft plastic lures in mackerel imitating or attracting colorations – along with this baitfish’s characteristic vermiculation markings – and it really does say a great deal about the limitations that fishermen have in regard to figuring out why a fish favors a certain color over another – and on the next tide, they change their preference. I guess that’s why I most often start with a bone or white coloration, relying on my presentation, as well as the selection of size, profile, and weighting/rigging. 

Up inside Barnstable, Amy said there are good numbers of bass from schoolies up through over slot fish that are readily taking a variety of lures such as spooks and soft plastics; in my mind, sand eels are a way more important bait source up in Barnstable – and throughout the bay for that matter – since fish feed on them consistently because they are around pretty much of all of the time, as opposed to bait species such as mackerel, shad, and squid that are far more seasonal.

Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing has been finding quality numbers of striped bass going into the third week of June!

Capt. Mike often talks about the importance of “a natural presentation” and that is especially true around pogy schools. Andy Little from The Powderhorn in Hyannis advised that in the near shore bay waters from Eastham up to Provincetown, there are some bigger bass shadowing isolated schools of pogies and when you drop a soft plastic paddle, you don’t want it to sink like a dead weight. Instead, you should be able to feel it work through the water column with a natural, mainly horizontal presentation. In some scenarios, you might want to stop the drop, allowing the bait to quiver and pulse like the real thing.

Over around Billingsgate, the fishing remains steady, mainly on smaller bass, according to Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth; most of the folks trolling are still doing so with braided line and a variety of swimming plugs. Remember that the length and size of the swimming lip – or bill or plate or whatever you prefer to call it – is an important factor in how deep a swimmer runs, as well as its characteristic action. When working in shoal water – often right on top of the sand – you can get away with swimmers that work just as well as when you are casting them, but you will have to play with the speed that you are trolling since the smaller lip, lighter weight, and narrower body profile will often cause this type of plug to spin, plane, or roll out, making it useless. Think sand eels, silversides, and other smaller baitfish when you go in this direction.

If you are trolling in deeper water and/or around bigger, i.e., longer and/or larger profile baitfish such as pogies or mackerel, then the new Hogy Charter Grade Swimming Plug makes an excellent choice. At different times in the season, CC Bay also holds populations of squid; I have seen them both on drop-offs along the shoreline from Orleans to Provincetown and in open water situations. In both scenarios, the pink swimmer is a logical way to go – and I hope that a clear amber version makes it into the lineup at some point – hint, hint!

I heard from a number of folks that the tube-and-worm fishing has been really good lately as well, especially in the shallower water from Sandwich to Barnstable; you will also see a couple of the smaller charterboats dragging them right over the flats and edges during high water with good results, including around the Brewster Flats during the higher stages of the tide. 

Although the Canal garners much of the attention for shore anglers on the Cape nowadays, Bruce Miller told me that there is some very good fishing from the Sandwich beaches on down to Barnstable and beyond. A lot of folks are familiar with the fly rod and light tackle opportunities in the Sandwich creeks, as well as up inside Barnstable Harbor, but there has been a decent first light bite on topwater plugs from the beachfront sand as well. Some larger bass are also being caught at night on soft plastics and a variety of swimming plugs, along with bait such as mackerel, seaworms, and clams. 

On the flounder front, the action is apparently slowing, with a bit more moving around to locate a concentration of fish; one key is apparently sliding into slightly deeper water as well as employing a chumming method, including crushed mussels and clam scraps.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Capt. Caroline Scotti from North Chatham Outfitters report on Monomoy was concise and to the point: “The rips have been great.” There are bass of all sizes pushing squid on both tides and you will catch fish with pretty much anything that looks like a squid, all colors, all shapes, all sizes . . . well, you get the idea. Some of these fish are so fat that they look like footballs; Charlie Richmond was the weighmaster at last weekend’s OAC 1000 and he said the largest bass weighted in was just a smidge shy of 31-inches, but weighed close to 20-pounds. That is a fat bass!

Caroline added that there are some bluefish mixed in as well, but she had no word on the fluke fishing on the shoals close to Monomoy; instead, as has become most common, folks seeing fluke – in other words, big fluke – and heading east of Nantucket, where the bite is picking up.

As a boat angler herself, Caroline admitted that she doesn’t can her ear tuned to what the sand people are talking about, but she did pick up on some talk about an eel bite at night.

Mention old school angling to me and you’ll get a smile from me every time – as well as a grumble about this new fangled generation of equipment obsessed fishermen – now where was I going? Oh, Mac from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth spoke to a group of shore anglers who had a good night around Nauset, with a good number of slot fish on plugs. But what got my heart was when one of these guys was excited to see that they had a black Gibbs’ needlefish on the wall that he bought to replace the one that was all scarred up from the previous night’s fishing. Anyone who fishes the backside beach is aware that needles would rate as the top plug option among those dedicated to this fishery; soft plastics and Finnish style swimmers certainly catch fish and when there are bass chowing on pogies close enough to shore to be reached, a glide bait is an excellent choice. A bluefish blitz means casting jigs for distance – if needed – or a single hook surface plug if you want to have fun watching a pack of blues compete over it.


Help us conserve striped bass!

We joined The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to take part in their Striped Bass Citizen Science Study. Check out the video above to receive a breakdown of the study and how you can help! Want to become a DMF Citizen Scientist? Sign up HERE.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Definitely some interesting stuff going on in Cape Cod Bay at the moment. Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reported that the large bass that were in the Canal and moved through in the last week or so to feed on the remaining mackerel in the bay are still off the east end of the land cut, but they have also moved up towards Plymouth and even farther north to Boston. As far as schools of pogies, Bruce has not heard of any real concentrations off the south shore like the massive numbers that were around Manomet last year, but once the mackerel move out to cooler, deeper water east of the Cape to join the populations there, anything is on the table. Capt. Mike did a recent shoot with Capt. Terry Nugent out in the bay to put Mike’s new Charter Grade Swimming Plugs to the test and the results were big – an estimated 50-pounds big, with good numbers of 20 to 40-pound fish as well; these fish were feeding on pogies which might be still holding in deeper water until they are pushed closer to shore by the bass.

Capt. Diogo of Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing has been finding a consistent bass bite throughout the bay.

Bruce said that some folks continue to do well livelining mackerel when they can jig them up – and they sold out of sabiki rigs over the last several days – but trolling chrome colored bunker spoons and deep diving swimmers is also working really well. One thing about structure in the bay is that it can be very subtle, including depth contours, bars, and holes, some of which have distinct names such as the Fingers and the Fishing Ledge, while others are held onto tightly by those who discovered them over the years through lots of time on the water. I know Capt. Mike is well versed in using his various transducers to target structure and fish and I suspect that an instructional video will be on the way -hint, hint!

Around the eastern stretches of the bay, there are plenty of bass around Billingsgate, noted Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters, as well as around the Target Ship and the edges or drop-offs between Eastham and Truro. There are some schools of pogies around, but at times the fish are concentrated on small mackerel; of course, imitating sand eels with soft plastics or flies is a good place to start if you prefer casting, but big surface plugs around big baits that seem to wander aimlessly around the bay is a lot of fun. Remember that pogies filter feed mainly on krill and other tiny organisms so knowing where these blooms are concentrated can really help; the same goes for mackerel, which typically mainly feed on copepods, krill and shrimp, although larger specimens are known to feed on small squid as well as really small baitfish such as silversides and small sand eels.

The lack of sunshine recently as well as colder temperatures and winds out of a northerly quadrant has impacted the fishing on the flats, not due as much to a lack of fish, but the challenge of sight fishing what you can’t see until it is too late. That’s why hiring an experienced flats guide like Chris Kokorda can really help out due to his knowledge of how tidal patterns work around the Brewster and Monomoy flats to help concentrate fish on the subtle sand structure in these areas such as channels, holes, and bars. If you prefer to cast for larger fish with soft plastics or plugs, first light is a good bet, as is night but if you aren’t familiar with any area of flats in Cape Cod Bay, you need to think twice. If the fish are biting, it can be easy to forget about the 9 to 11 foot tidal range and find yourself trapped with no way to get back to shore sans going over your waders. And then there is the fog which makes a compass an absolutely required piece of equipment; I still use a flip phone so I can’t speak on how the apps on a smart phone might help, but I suppose there is some way given how so many people rely on them for guidance in their lives!

Capt. Alex Ridgeway of Cape Cod Offshore found schools of 22-34″ fish all to himself earlier in the week.

I found it particularly interesting to hear Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis – and Osterville – talk about how the friends of one of her trusted employees, Morgan, have been catching some nice bass from the beaches in Sandwich and Dennis using bait, including squid, mackerel, and, I believe, clams, if memory serves me right. 

The flounder action remains quite good in the waters off of Sesuit, but Fran Keough told me that a customer drove down from Wellfleet to get some flounder gear and returned the next day for more, a good sign that is there is a solid flattie bite somewhere along the bayside waters of the outer Cape. Bruce Miller added that there have been some nice flounder caught from just outside the east end of the Canal down along Sandwich as well.

The Outer Cape Fishing Report

Lots of reports rolling in of plenty of bass on all of the shoals down Monomoy way; Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters said there are fish pushing squid, making for good topwater action on plugs and soft plastics. If I got this wrong, I apologize, but I recall a talk by Capt. Ron Murphy of Stray Cat Charters in Hyannis at the Osterville Anglers’ Club where he explained at this time of the year the tide running out the sound often fishes best due to the warming effects of the water given how cold it is east of Monomoy, but that changes in the summer when cooler water running in from open water is what you want. I do know that I have seen some of the largest swings in water temperature in that area when the currents change direction. 

I overheard Bob Lewis talking with his buddies Charlie Richmond and Ken Cirillo on Wednesday and he said a friend of his fished Monomoy this week and along with fish in the rips, there were also stripers chowing on sand eels in the quiet water out front.

Bob Lewis & Olivia Dinkelacker have collected data on 100+ Striped Bass this spring!

Fran Keough has been watching the mackerel boats offloading full quotas regularly at the town pier in Chatham, but nobody is really talking about the fishing up around Provincetown and down the backside to Truro, where mackerel and sand eels typically produce a really good bite this time of year. Odds are that the larger fish that were inside Cape Cod Bay for weeks have or will make their way up to that stretch; I know this is a popular run for boats leaving ports from Sandwich to Barnstable to Sesuit historically, but with fishing so good close to home combined with the price of gas, I suspect the boats leaving from Provincetown or launching out of the Pamet will be happy not to have the company. 

As far as working the water from the sand goes, sand eels are definitely what drives the fishing from the backside beaches and some folks are kicking things around on needlefish and soft plastics at night and topwater plugs in the AM. The one thing that Fran Keough emphasized is the size of the fish in the backwaters of Pleasant Bay and Town Cove; in fact, he told of watching a youngster fishing from the town dock in Meetinghouse Pond who hooked what looked to be a 30+-inch striper on his pushbutton outfit. Normally, there would be good numbers of small schoolies around, but that isn’t the case right now and Fran is wondering where all the small bass are. Oh, and unfortunately, the bass overpowered the youngsters’ equipment.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

When it comes to the search for big bass – we’re talking about fish in the 40 to 50 pound class, with a good mix of 30’s – you’d be hard pressed to find a better area on the Cape.


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Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters boats a big bass caught in the bay earlier this week.

Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reported that there are big fish hanging off the east end of the Canal feeding on schools of mackerel. While there are certainly folks livelining mackerel with good results from just outside the east entrance out to the Fingers – and even in open water throughout the bay at times – Jeff added that trolling bunker spoons and deep diving swimmers continues to produce. In addition, some boaters are doing what their shore counterparts inside the east end of the Big Ditch are doing and that is casting Finnish minnow style swimmers such as SP Minnows, Bombers, Yo-zuri Long Cast Swimmers; there is also definitely a renewed appreciation for the double jointed, lipless crankbait, especially in Wacky Mackerel and Green Mack according to Jeff. It’s not that folks forgot about this type of swimmer/crankbait; it’s just that the insanity of about five or six years ago when people were hauling out big fish in the Canal with these lures has quieted more recently.

And if you didn’t know, instead of casting this plug and ripping it back – with a big bass attached – the last several years has seen the soft plastic paddletail jig take over, including in Cape Cod Bay. Boaters in the bay might not be using the heaviest paddles like the Canal folks are, but smaller and lighter ones – adjusted for the depth of the water and the size of the bait – continue to score even among the mackerel schools in the bay, with the ones that feature more of a sand eel profile very effective around Billingsgate and up towards Provincetown.

Capt. Mike found large schools of big bass feeding down deep in Cape Cod Bay. The New Hogy Swimming Plug (Not yet available) was key to getting down deep and getting bit!

Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis has spoken to a few of her regulars who keep boats up in Cape Cod Bay and one of the challenges this week was the wind out of the north and east. When they have been able to get out, they were doing well off of Sandwich with chunk mackerel and some of them continue to find stripers in the 40+-inch class dragging white jigs on wire right down on the bottom. There are also schools of sizeable fish out in areas of the bay where there is no real hard structure; instead, these bass are following schools of mackerel and sand eels, with their whereabouts occasionally given away by working birds. 

Over around Barnstable, the livelining bite has started to pick up, noted Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis. While a week ago, it was far more common to find mackerel in deeper water, some schools have been working their way in closer the bell at the entrance to Barnstable Harbor. There does seem to be one change from past years, though, Andy explained; while it was very common to go out and jig up some mackerel and then bring them back inside the harbor, more people seem to be livelining them outside the confines of B-Harbor itself. Inside the harbor, there are plenty of smaller bass, however, and they are providing great action on smaller topwater plugs and plastics.

Billingsgate was hot midweek, according to Jake Mandirola at North Chatham Outfitters, with plenty of slot and overslot bass caught on plugs and plastics in the morning. The charterboats are still doing well trolling deep diving swimmers, but as the water warms there typically is a shift to jigs on wire. At the moment, however, the water temperatures are still in the cooler range on the shoals and along the edges. 

Shore fishing also remains very good on the Brewster Flats and the outer Cape bayside beaches, Jake added. Fly folks fishing large sand eel patterns and big bunker or herring flies have been connecting with some big fish at night; it’s the same story for the plugging crew in these areas, with sliders, glide baits, needlefish, and Finnish style swimmers good choices – along with a variety of soft plastics, from small sand eel imitations on up.

Capt. Diogo of Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing has been finding success on both fly and conventional gear inside Cape Cod Bay.

One key if you are going to book a wade or boat trip on the bay flats, especially if you going to be flycasting, is to make sure your skills are up to snuff. In many scenarios, you will need to present a fly a good distance with even more accuracy – with a limited amount of reaction time. As these fish see more pressure, they become even spookier and that’s why daytime success can be increased by wading or anchoring up on point and waiting for the fish to follow a proscribed route as opposed to drifting around while casting a big shadow and/or vertical profile. 

Although one might argue that this isn’t the Cape in the sense of Salty Cape, but Bull MacKinnon at Red Top in Buzzards Bay said there have been a lot of birds during the daytime working over fish up in Plymouth and Duxbury, but the biggest news concerns folks picking up a good number of 30-pound bass at night on fresh sea clams. Bull suggested that this might be a precursor to a repeat of the scenario from last season when a huge school of bass settled into the Manomet area, attracted by a mess of pogies that hung around a good long while.

Relevant Links

Lee Boisvert over at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said that along with the larger bass being caught on both bait – primarily mackerel – as well as a wide assortment of lures, the flounder bite has been garnering a lot of attention from boaters out of Sesuit Harbor that are using both clams and seaworms.


Check out the latest Salty Cape T.V episode! In this video, Capt Mike steams out to Nobska Point aboard his 28′ Contender to do some rip fishing for striped bass. Capt. Mike goes deep into the proper approach for rip fishing for striped bass at Nobska Point, such as boat positioning and the art of fishing “the swing” of the rips. From a deep dive on his fishing outfit, to the proper retrieve of the swimbaits, no stone is left unturned. You’ll also see some awesome striped bass action too. Enjoy!”

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Still plenty of big bass in the bay and more arriving every day apparently as they move into and through the Canal, said Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Folks are reporting more mackerel in the bay, although some traditional locations such as Barnstable Harbor have yet to see many.

Out by the CC Buoy and over towards the Fingers, bunker spoons and flutter jigs are working well around the mackerel schools in this area, Bruce added. Of course, it’s also tough to beat a paddletail jig in one of the many color options out there. One thing that many anglers fail to do is carry various weights and sizes of these productive lures as a switch from one color to another or even selecting a smaller length or profile can make a big difference. 

Andy Little over at The Powderhorn in Hyannis explained that the mackerel had not moved in close to the entrance to Barnstable Harbor, where most of the folks sabiki or jig up their baits around the bell buoy before rushing back into the harbor to liveline them. On the other hand, Andy said, anglers who have been cruising open water between the east entrance of the Canal over to Billingsgate have been doing well throwing big spooks like the new Hogy XL Dogwalker around the schools of mackerel, which are often marked by flocks of birds. 

Emergency Action

Division of Marine Fisheries has announced that starting Friday, May 26, the new slot limit of 28 to less than 31-inches will be implemented in Massachusetts, as well as all other Coastal States. The ASMFC’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board took this action to alter the slot limit based on a large increase in recreational catch mortality in 2022 in comparison to the 2021 figures, mainly because a large percentage of the 2015 year class – which represents at the moment the best hope for a recovery of the stock by 2029, the date established by the bass board – entered the slot and suffered extensive mortality. Only time will tell if the new slot reduces the pressure on the 2015’s, but as with plenty of things in life, only time will tell. 

Over at the Sports Port, also in Hyannis, Amy Wrightson advised that even if the livelining thing hasn’t really been happening yet, there are still some really solid bass in the 40-inch range being caught by folks trolling white jigs on the bottom with wire. 

Up inside Barnstable, there are plenty of smaller fish for light tackle and fly rod folks, with small spooks and poppers along with sand eel soft plastics and fly patterns tough to the beat.

Like yours truly, Capt. Caroline Scotti from North Chatham Outfitters was delayed a bit in getting her boat in the water and she acknowledged that she missed a portion of the good early season bite. That said, Caroline noted that there are still plenty of fish – meaning big bass – around from Billingsgate to Stony Bar; while the charter boats in the area typically troll these waters and do well with deep diving swimming plugs – especially multi-jointed lipless jobs – folks casting topwater plugs and soft plastics also do really well. Capt. Scotti said that slider and glide type plugs are very popular and she personally likes the larger bone/white colored Hogy Slider. The fish are feeding on both pogies and sand eels and Caroline reminded me that while topwater action is a lot of fun, the larger body of fish – and including those bass with larger bodies – are often deeper in the water column, making for a good jig bite. 

For shore anglers, the bite remains excellent on quality bass on the Brewster Flats and from dusk to dawn on the beaches from Orleans to Wellfleet and Truro. 

Folks are either being really tight-lipped about what is going on around Provincetown and the backside of Truro or it might be the shoals of sand eels and mackerel have yet to draw the bass in. Bruce Miller believes that while there are some good schools of bass in the Plymouth area and even up towards Boston already, if enough bait settles in around the tip of the Cape, that population could relocate in the very near future. 

Some bluefish have been reported from the bay and the flounder bite off of Sesuit remains very good, noted Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth.


Check out the latest Hogy Lures video. In this video, Capt. Mike joins Capt. Cullen Lundholm of Cape Star Charters aboard his beautiful 33′ Conch. There’s been a consistent topwater striper bite at the West End of the Cape Cod Canal, with lots of fish in the 40″+ range. This gave us a perfect opportunity to fish the new Charter Grade XL DogWalkers paired with the Hogy Hybrid Spinning Rod!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

According to Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters, the Rock Harbor fleet has been doing well both around Stony Bar and Billingsgate; at this time of year, Fran explained, the fish are in shallower water due to lower temperatures so that trolling swimming plugs is the way to go. The Rapala Magnum 20’s and 30’s are popular, but the Magic Swimmer style has become even more popular in recent years. The fish are feeding on mackerel this time of year, so patterns with darker tops and green/blueish sides with vertical markings are very effective.

Big bass are showing up in multiple areas through the Bay. Pogy imitations like the Hogy Dog Walker are the key to getting bites on artificals. {PC: Chris Blake of Unreel Sportfishing}

There have also been reports of pogies around, so gold is the way to go; some plug makers make pogy plugs, with the appropriate markings and colors, which makes things even easier. Wellfleet has been one area where some pogy schools have been reported.

Although the wind through midweek, flyrodders and light tackle practitioners have done really well around Billingsgate casting sand eel patterns and plastics; the bite on the flats from Barnstable to Orleans remains excellent, with the bass larger than is typical for this time of year. Crab flies often do the trick when sight fishing and trying to coax a larger fish into eating. Unlike later in the season when the water warms and the fish become spookier due to being hit over the head daily, they will sometimes crash spook style plugs as well as larger soft plastics; the bubblegum seven and 10-inch Hogy Originals are my personal favorites, especially in the early morning when the water is up. 

Fran said shore fish remains excellent along the bayside beaches; Finnish style swimming plugs that are now mainly made in plastic are really effective, along with sliders that feature broader profiles like a pogy. One common mistake that Fran mentioned was folks trying to cast a mile when the fish are actually in close at your feet. 

Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said the topwater bite remains very good in Barnstable Harbor; soft plastics are an excellent choice, but there are some folks who stick with small spooks or poppers, including the smaller size Charter Grade Poppers in Albie Crack or Amber. 

Over at the Sports Port in Hyannis, Amy Wrightson spoke to one of her regulars who did well earlier this week with plugs from his boat before switching sides of the Cape and working the southside beaches. Fran Keough added that based on sea worm sales, it appears that winter flounder fishing is picking up.

Relevant Links


Welcome back to our annual Cape Cod Fishing Reports! We greatly appreciate all of our readers and wish everyone a “fishy” 2023 season! {PC: Matt Rissell}

It seems odd to even register any concern about the present fishing here on the Cape, but I kind of agree with Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore who opined, “This is definitely not normal.” Of course, what Bruce was referring to was fish to the upper 40-pound class being caught in the Canal already, while the south-side shoals are filled with quality bass and the bluefish bite started to turn on last week. Buzzards Bay is no slouch either, with big bass around and a solid tautog bite. Meanwhile, Cape Cod Bay is producing plenty of stripers as well for the shore crew for the most part – mainly because there aren’t a lot of boats in the water.

As I far too often do, I can’t just focus on the quality of the fishing and have been wondering where all these big fish are coming from. Was it a cold, wet winter in the Chesapeake, which typically results in an early spawning season and thereby an earlier departure from the bay for parts north? Or are these Hudson fish; from what I have gathered, that river system has enjoyed some solid spawning classes over the last decade that has resulted in excellent fishing in the bays and backwaters of New Jersey and New York.

With the new coast wide slot limit of 28 to 31-inches, there are going to be even more size-able fish that are going to have to be released and how that is handled – pun intended – is critically important to how successful any rebuilding program from the ASMFC is going to be.

Then again, I can already hear the voices of the charter fleets up and down the east coast proclaiming, “See there are plenty of fish; they didn’t need to change the slot. It’s going to put me out of business. My customers want to take fish home.” And on and on. Hey, it must be tough seeing all these big bass around and not being able to kill them. I guess they’ll have to settle with photos of a dock load of dead slot fish like they did last season as opposed to the real ego boost of stacking cows.

Meanwhile, I am also wondering where the schoolies, you know the little guys, are. It would be interesting to ask a bunch of anglers what length(s) constitutes a schoolie; I suspect over the years it has changed. Then again, my friends would say that I worry about small bass because that’s all I catch – if I catch anything. Talk about an Ouch!

Well, on to the reports. Be safe, courteous, and conservation minded out there and here’s to hoping that 2023 is a great season for you.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

At this point in the season, one of the most common news is that stripers are being caught in protected areas like Pleasant Bay, or as Andy Little at The Powderhorn reported up inside Barnstable Harbor or even the Sandwich creeks where the water is a bit warmer.Cape Cod Bay Fishing Reports

The size class of fish around this early in the year is truly something special! {PC: Capt. Diogo of Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing}

But Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters in Chatham joined in the chorus celebrating excellent fishing from the sand all the way from Barnstable to the bayside beaches in Harwich, Brewster, and Orleans. Fran singled out the Hogy Protail Paddle as a great option since the smaller versions perfectly mimic the small bait that the bass are feeding on at the moment while you can simply upsize if larger baitfish like pogies or sea herring draw their attention. 

I found it interesting that a Cape based charter captain who advertised his Boston Harbor/Quincy based winter flounder trips for several years is now offering flattie excursions out of Sesuit Harbor. Hogy has a number of videos covering this Cape Cod Bay fishery which has become more popular. While Fran said that he is just starting to get calls for seaworms, which is a pretty good sign of how this fishery is going, Mac Fields at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said their worm sales have been steady. Of course, this might simply be the result of a differing clientele, since Riverview has plenty of customers who make the short hop out of Sesuit while NCO regulars might wait until things really pick up before electing to cross the bay.

Relevant Links


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

It might sound tool simple, but before the wind kicked up today, folks were heading up to Scusset and picking up slot-and-above bass on the tube-and-worm, according to Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Word is that there are some pogies hanging outside the east end of the Canal, but it doesn’t seem like there is any real interest in livelining, perhaps because folks can’t sell bass for the remainder of the year. There had also been decent t & w action from Sandwich to just shy of Barnstable, but again, the last couple of days have kept pretty much everyone in port.

Big bluefish caught aboard Riptide Charters.

 Even more impressive has been the shore action from Sandwich beaches and all along Sandy Neck, said Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis; night fishing with dark colored needlefish and both plastic and metal lip swimmers has produced plenty of nice schoolies and even some slot fish, while up inside Barnstable Harbor folks using the same type of plugs, worked really nice and slow at night, has working well on some larger bass. It’s a great time to be a dedicated shore angler with the beaches and flats from Yarmouth to Orleans pretty much void of any other anglers as so many people are chasing albies elsewhere. The lack of people doesn’t mean there is a lack of fish, but the upcoming blow will probably dirty up the water; that said, once things settle and the water clears up, there just could be a whole lot of bass chowing down in preparation for their trips to the Hudson and the Chesapeake. 

If one can get out tomorrow and perhaps even early Saturday morning, I would suspect that there should be some exciting topwater action on bass, with sand eel color soft plastics hard to beat when the water is kind of rough, as opposed to topwater plugs which get jounced around in the job, making a solid connection difficult. Weighting soft plastics is a smart move as well in those types of conditions, with the Hogy Pro Tail and Hogy Slow Tail excellent choices if they fish are chowing on small bait such as peanut bunker and sand eels, as is typically the case at this point in the fall, while the smaller Hogy Pro Tail Paddles will allow you to target any larger fish hanging below the fray up top. The bluefishing seems to have slowed in the bay, although Mac Fields from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said a 15-pound bluefish was caught this week in Barnstable. Fish of that size are often caught on chunk bait, with pogies and mackerel good choices, along with squid. 

Stellwagen is still the place to go for larger tuna, although since the commercial season is closed at the moment, meaning that you will typically only find recreational anglers chasing bluefin. Although he couldn’t say exactly where it was occurring, Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay heard of one angler who has been picking at football tuna. Obviously, he is keeping where he is finding them to himself, but it isn’t unusual for them to show up around Plymouth, especially if a northeast wind pins the bait to that area.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

With Capt. Scott Hamilton in town to do a presentation for the Cape Cod Flyrodders about fishing for albies – and plenty of other species – down in his home waters of West Palm Beach, where his reputation of putting his folks on fish is unmatched, Bob Lewis took him to Monomoy to get him into some bass. Now, you have to understand that in Florida, albies do not drive most of the fishing community crazy; in fact, there is a genuine disdain among many for what they consider “trash” fish that are only good for grabbing a lure before a more highly prized – think edible – species such as a blackfin tuna, cobia, mahi, or even a jack – gets to it. Don’t be confused by the appellation “bonita” from a Floridian, assuming they are talking about our Atlantic bonito; this is a common name down there for little tunny or false albacore, which often gets morphed into the derogatory “bonehead.” Scott, however, saw the potential in putting us northerners on the big, aggressive albies that swarm his area and there are plenty of folks, like Bob, who schedule annual trips to pull on these tremendous fish, as well as the other species that Capt. Hamilton knows so well.

striped bass
Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing finding some quality bass in between albie fishing.

So all of that leads up to Scott not being terribly interested in our albies – although he did put on a clinic for me the next day – and so they headed to east to the rips where – sure enough – they came across albies ripping it up off of Monomoy Point. Scott managed to pull out a striper thereabouts, but Bob then took him to a spot more to the southeast where they found plenty of cooperative bass that just loved Scott’s larger chartreuse-and-white Eat Me Fly, a style of tying that can be modified in profile, length, and color to pretty much catch any fish anywhere. 

According to Capt. Caroline Scotti at North Chatham Outfitters, she has been pretty much stapled to the shop and not able to get out and do trips on the Lil’ Jaz, so firsthand news on her part was limited. She did say, though, at this time of year, a lot of the action in the rips is driven by sand eels and other baitfish as opposed to squid, with the copious amounts of peanut bunker driving some really great albie action, along with some bonito mixed in, for those folks who want to feel the burn. While many Cape flyrodders are known for dredging up albies with full sink lines around the rips, often employing the same kind of jigging-and-no casting that they employ with bass, the stretch of the east side of Monomoy from High Bank to the new Southway is renowned for great albie action with surface feeding fish gladly walloping Crease Flies and poppers on floating lines.


The Fall Run is Underway!

It’s a magical time on Cape Cod right now. The fall run is in full swing, and the options for anglers are endless. Jump into an older video highlighting the excitement of the fall run here on Cape Cod!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

With winds gusting to the mid-30’s out of the north/northwest this morning, I can’t imagine there are many boats out in the bay; in fact, it’s going to be interesting to see what things look like post blow. 

According to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, there had been a good bite on bigger bass from Scusset to Sandy Neck. In this case, however, the fish weren’t feeding on pogies, but at times they were chasing chub mackerel, a species that many folks have been calling baby bonito. According to the science, these fish will grow up to 22-inches, but in this case Bruce said they have been generally running six to nine inches, with a few up to a foot in length. While some anglers have been jigging them up and livelining, Bruce advised that the tube-and-worm was working really well, along with the Rapala X-Rap Deep Divers. In addition, Bruce said that on sunny days orange tubes had been working best, with a switch over to motor oil variations on cloudy days. 

Beach anglers had also been picking at some slot sized bass from in front of the Sandwich creeks as well as down Sandy Neck way, while Andy Little continues to report that there are good numbers of schoolies up inside Barnstable Harbor, with some larger fish being taken on plugs and plastics under the cover of darkness. Amy Wrightson from The Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville added that one of her regulars managed to get into some legal bass fished chunk mackerel outside Barnstable. 

The word from Sarge Bloom at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth is that a good number of the guys up in Cape Cod Bay have been concentrating on the bluefin bite while it’s happening, but there are still some boaters fishing bass up around Billingsgate, especially on the troll, while up around Provincetown livelining mackerel has been most productive, with news that it isn’t as difficult to find them at the moment as a combination dropping water temperatures and winds mainly out of some sort of northerly-ish direction moving the schools inshore.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Let’s start with the adventures of Capt. Mike and the rest of the Salty Cape film and fishing crew, courtesy of Jack Pinard of Hogy Lure Company:
“Due to the constant change in forecast, we left the dock armed with a wide variety of gear. Everything from offshore tuna to inshore albies. The main goal was to head off of Nauset in search of tuna, as a few captains we had been networking with reported a good topwater bite the past couple of days. As we were making our way east we stumbled upon a couple of boats bottom fishing around some lobster pots off Bass River. We opted to make a quick stop just to see if we could mark some good bottom or stacks of fish. Using both the Garmin Live Scope and the traditional chirp sonar, we found massive schools of scup cruising the bottom. The Garmin Live Scope is truly amazing as it allowed us to not only mark the schools of scup, but see exactly which direction they were swimming and how quick they were moving. After getting our dinner for the night, we made our way towards Nauset in search of tuna. Of course, the forecast changed yet again, and the conditions were much rougher than expected; not only that, but we found no tuna. We made the decision to work our way back and see if we could get on an albie bite. We made it as far as Monomoy before we stopped and started marking a ton of fish cruising mid water column. Using the ½-ounce Hogy Heavy Minnow in shrimp, we jigged through mostly untouched until we hooked up on a few nice slot size bass. It didn’t seem like these fish were feeding that aggressively, rather just stemming the tide. After that bite slowed we headed back to the barn, not before stopping to cast at a random albie school. I hooked up briefly using the Hogy Heavy Minnow before breaking the fish off – the downside of a 12-pound leader.”

Slot size bass
Capt. Mike with a slot size bass that fell for the 1/2oz shrimp color Hogy Heavy Minnow.

Credit to Capt. Mike for searching out tuna that will make an interesting filming tutorial as opposed to heading directly to the Regal Sword where it seems like bluefin are almost a guarantee. Capt. Caroline Scotti from North Chatham Outfitters does what any good charter captain does, on the other hand, and heads for the fish, going 10 for 12 on an earlier trip this week. There were mediums and giants in the mix, but they couldn’t find any bluefin that fit in the small category, so they left with their one allowable medium under their charterboat permit. Caroline, like so many other folks, have become huge fans of the 8-ounce Hogy Sand Eel Jig, with all colors working really well. 

Although she is focused on tuna, Capt. Scotti said that the bass have definitely moved back into the rips, especially on the east side of Monomoy and there are incredible numbers of albies as well. Mix in some big bluefish and bonito and you have all the makings of a New England Grand Slam. From what she had has heard, it is mainly a sand eel bite. 

There is also some really good albie action in the white water up around the Southway and the jig bite continues in force from Chatham Inlet up to Nauset, with fish on top closer in during first light before they drop out into deeper water. 

I missed out last week by not contacting Charlie Richmond who did well out east, but I will offer it up now to give you an idea of what is possible thereabouts at this time of year: “Never received a request for a report last week, but did have a big day off Chatham with Ken Cirillo & Dave Rose; old news now! To summarize, we had 33+ bass, most in the “slot”, but 6+ between 35-to 40″-great morning.”


Finicky Albies

Reports of finicky albies on Cape Cod have been abundant this year. In this video, Capt. Mike shares a deadly technique to fool these finicky fish!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

This week – besides all of the albie craziness going on – the biggest news around a number of Cape locations has been the abundance of really big bluefish. I’m talking about 30 to 36-inch choppers on average, with a number from the mid-teen pounds and up. Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said that from the east entrance of the Canal down to Sandy Neck, both boat and shore anglers have been enjoying themselves with the strength and antics of these fish. People wax poetic about stripers, but in all honesty, bass – especially big bass – are wimps compared to a blue. 

For the trolling crew, if you are going to target blues, then old school lures such as the Hootchie or a deep diving swimmer are excellent choices, but the reality is that folks dragging line from Old Harbor down to Barnstable are most often targeting bass and a good amount of the time they are using the tube-and-worm. Fortunately, the tube is relatively protected from a bluefish’s chomp because it is rigged with wire connecting the swivel at the head to the hook at the tail end; it is made of heavier gauge surgical tubing that can survive an encounter with a blue; and since blues attack their prey from behind, the hook on a tube is perfectly positioned well away from the leader and line. Add the fact that tubes use single hooks, which anyone who has fished for bluefish knows, makes it much easier to release a fish that is following your fingers with its yellow eyes, just waiting for you to make a mistake.

Nice size albie caught by @Rockpylefishing on Instagram.

Typically, folks associate topwater lures when casting for blues because it is just so much fun watching them chase and pounce on a plug, to the point where some nuts – and I am looking at myself – remove all the hooks just to see how long a bluefish will hold onto a lure before letting it go. The visuals are also spectacular since when a blue is hell bent on catching something, it won’t give up, even swiping at a plug boatside. There are a number of surface plugs, including the Hogy Surface Pencil, that skip and slide across the water’s surface and just drive bluefish crazy – and, yes, they work well for bass, too, particularly when the fish are feeding on squid. These have two great features: they cast a long way with little effort and have single tail hooks, which as I said earlier makes release a whole lot safer, especially when you bent the barbs down. Oh, and a third, is that since there is only one hook at the tail, you can grab the body of the plug and keep your hands away from a snapping mouth filled with teeth. That said, what I particularly like about the Hogy version is the length of the body; unlike some of these long distance casting plugs, which have relatively short bodies that still can leave your fingers in a perilous position if you’re not careful. These plugs will, as mentioned above, catch bass, but Bruce said that most of the stripers, especially anything of size, are being caught at night from the beaches on the northside from Sandwich to Barnstable on swimming plugs, while pencil poppers and spooks work best around first light. 

The Sandwich creeks are still holding a good number of schoolies and Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said there is no lack of small bass up inside Barnstable Harbor, with a consistent early morning topwater bite. Of course, on the dropping tide and the early part of incoming water, it is not uncommon throughout the season to encounter blitzes of bass, mostly on the smaller size, from the shallows or flats from just beyond East Bar and off Chapin’s down to the flats and creeks around Dennis and Brewster, this kind of activity in the fall is often fueled by peanut bunker along with one of the main food sources in Cape Cod Bay, the sand eel. During low water, when it can be impossible to access these inside flats by boats, trolling swimming plugs or throwing weighted soft plastics and smaller topwater plugs can help you target bass that are hanging around the drop-offs along the outside edges of the skinny water. Of course, if you are a wader, these are prime times since they allow you to fish the troughs and sloughs on both sides of low water in search of bigger bass without the fish being spooked by boat noise. And when it comes to smaller bass feeding on peanut bunker in the fall, there isn’t much that is going to bother them. Most importantly, remember this is going to be primarily a catch-and-release scenario, making single hook rigged unweighted soft plastics a great choice, no matter how tempting it might be to use plugs festooned with trebles. In addition, as tempting as it might be to rip a fish in and then toss it back haphazardly so you can catch another one before the action stops, please take time to properly release every bass, preferably keeping it in the water as you remove the single hook you have crushed the barb on. 

Billingsgate will still be holding bass and blues, advised Mac Fields at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth, but with gusty winds out of the northwest this week, not as many boats were out this week to provide details; the tube-and-worm or deep diving swimmers have been best over the last month or so, whether you are looking for bass or even bluefish over by Wellfleet up off of Truro.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

The false albacore action has been pretty steady for about the last two weeks in the waters around Monomoy, especially in the rips that extend into Nantucket Sound, around the point, and up the east side towards the lighthouse, noted Capt. Carolina Scotti, operator of the Lil’ Jax and part of the crew at North Chatham Outfitters. The striper action has slowed a bit, with the rips to the east and southeast holding more fish, which are now generally feeding on sand eels. On the other hand, there is a good jig bite up off of Nauset; at times they have been close to the beach in shallower water, but at the moment they have been hanging in deeper water. Any topwater action has been either in the early morning or again at dusk. 

Now that the Canal has garnered all of the attention when it comes to fishing for bigger bass from shore, no doubt the folks who continue to fish the outer beaches must be pretty happy because you don’t hear much about what has apparently been a pretty good season on the backside. A Canal regular told me he heard that last week there was a good bite up at Newcomb Hollow – or was it Cahoon Hollow? I can’t remember, but no doubt needlefish or slim profile swimmers, along with sand eel imitations, factored in to the nocturnal catches. Spots like Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach are popular with casual anglers because you can park and fish topwater plugs or bait right there in the morning, but more serious regulars trudge through the sand either north or south with eels or plugs, looking to fish the most productive sloughs and holes at night, which even recently have seen some bass in the 40+-inch range caught.


Filmed Recently!

In this video, Capt. Mike walks through everything you need to know when fishing for false albacore.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The most interesting story concerning fishing in the bay came courtesy of Connor Swartz at Red Top in Buzzards Bay. Apparently, friends of A.J. Coots, son of Red Top owner Tom Coots, spent a long night (dusk to 2 AM) fishing one of the beaches in Sandwich and the managed 173 bass using needlefish and custom wooden metal lip swimmers. There were a number of schoolies in the mix, but a number of nice slot fish and even a few above that.

Capt. Mike putting the new Hogy Protail Fly to use on some finicky albies.

My nephew Frank was out last weekend confirmed what Andy Little at The Powderhorn had told me about Barnstable: lots of schoolies and good topwater action. Frank had good numbers of small bass whacking at his small bone colored spook and later on he went outside and ran from Sandy Neck to the east entrance of the Canal. He said there were schools of bluefish on top the entire way and that there were plenty of boats dragging tubes and jigging wire, although he didn’t see any great action. But the coolest part of his trip was running into a pod of dolphin or porpoises – I never know the difference – and he has a great video of them working the area. 

Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore told me that some guys have managed to sabiki up some mackerel that they have then dropped down on some larger fish, especially around the east entrance. 

Billingsgate is still producing mostly smaller bass on tubes for trollers and soft plastics and topwater plugs for casters, while over off of Wellfleet up to Truro, there are some bass in the wash that you can plug up or throw plastics or flies to with decent success. Bluefish aren’t quite as prevalent as they were a couple of weeks ago, but trolling deep diving swimmers up around the Path is a good way to locate the scattered fish, at which point you can switch over the surface plugs and try to raise them on the surface.

Lots of small bait on the flats and this is the time to enjoy some great fly or light tackle action as bass will go crazy, especially on the drop and then the first part of the incoming water as they trap the bait against the bars.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

With Matt Cody back at school, one of the co-owners of North Chatham Outfitters, Scott Butcher, was good enough to fill me in on what is going on down Cape, including his own experience fishing by boat off the Nauset Beach area. For weeks now, this has been a good concentration of bass in this area, both in deeper water where vertical jigging has been most effective and more recently when schools have moved closer in towards shore, sometimes in only 15 to 18-feet of water. While topwater plugs have been effective in the early morning, during the hours of high sunshine, the fish can be seen holding down in the water column, but they have been tough to catch on soft plastic jigs. Well, when Scott told Fran Keough, a member of the shop’s staff and a veteran outer Cape angler, Fran recommended taking some seaworms along. Sure enough, using bank sinkers and a basic bottom rig, Scott and crew were into fish one after another. The only issue after that was they caught plenty of fish that maxed out at 27-inches and a good number of 40+-inch bass, but finding one between 28 and 34-inches was a real struggle. Scott said these fish were holding just outside an offshore bar, unfortunately putting them outside the range of shore anglers. He did say that sand people working the beaches north and south of the man Nauset parking lot have been catching good numbers of bass on plugs at daybreak and again from dusk on using plastic lipped swimmers and soft plastics, as well as live eels.

Jack Pinard of Hogy Lure Company found some albies on his kayak earlier this week

Down around Monomoy, the bass fishing has slowed a bit, with more fish out around Pollock Rip and even farther east. The occasional larger bass has been taken on plugs or soft plastics, but generally jigging wire or using weighted soft plastic jigs has been the way to go. From what I heard, there is going to be some serious swell from a hurricane that is well to the south and it should be interesting to see what that stirs. 

From the point west, it has been mainly a bluefish bite, although Scott did say that Handkerchief Shoal and the area just to the west of this area has been holding some good schools of albies and a few scattered bonito. The challenge, however, has been avoiding all the bluefish that are feeding in the same area. 

A number of boats heading back to Stage Harbor have reported running into mixed schools of albies, bonito, and bluefish right off Harding’s Beach and spots just to the west, while the Morris Island and dedicated flats folks who concentrate their efforts on North Monomoy have been catching bass on crab, shrimp, and baby flounder flies, often while sight casting to fish, along with sand eel patterns at night or early morning, before they can see their quarry.


Filmed Last Week!

In this video, Capt Mike is joined by Capt. Rob Lowell of Cape Cod Offshore Charters as they target deepwater bluefin tuna on Hogy Charter Grade Poppers.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

 It’s pretty simple if you like to troll for your bass in Cape Cod Bay: it’s tube-and-worm time. Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said the bite has been pretty consistent from the east entrance to the Canal over to Scorton Ledge, with orange or motor oil colored tubes preferred by folks who fish these waters. He emphasized that we’re not talking about really big fish, like the ones that dominated the pogy scene earlier this season, but there are enough slot sized fish to make things interesting. 

Over at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, Andy Little noted that along with dragging tubes, it’s pretty common to see charter boats working this area with their outriggers extended to keep Hootchies on the outside of the spread; these are usually targeting bluefish and run at a higher speed than tubes, but unless someone with a marine diesel engine has a trolling valve that allows them to reduce their speed to the preferred level for tubing, then the Hootchies provide a back-up if the fish turn their noses up at the way a tube is working. That’s why the four stroke outboard is a God send for the tubing crowd; back in the days of two strokes, running an outboard at low RPM’s would result in unburned gas/oil mix clogging the plugs and other engine parts, as well as producing hellacious blue smoke – a clear sign of unburned oil.  

A little trick to try with a tube-and-worm outfit is to put the boat in neutral when you mark fish, thereby “feeding” the tube down to them – you can even put the reel in free spool and let out more line – followed by a sudden surge when you put the boat in gear that can draw a strike. This technique can be used with any kind of line, but when working wire, it’s important to have an experienced hand on the rod to avoid kinks and backlashes since paying out wire line usually requires a good amount of forward motion to get the spool moving and keep it moving. If you put the boat in neutral and someone puts a wire line outfit in free spool without enough speed/tension, the resulting bird’s nest can result in a reel that needs a visit to the shop for a new shot of wire. For further information on tube and worm fishing, watch Capt. Mike explain the basics in the video below. 

It’s easy to get lulled into a mindless routine when trolling tubes, especially when fishing over bottom where the depths don’t vary much, but I have always preferred lead core when tubing for a couple of simple reasons: it is much more user friendly when paying out line and if the captain has good communication with his anglers, he can instruct them to “let out another color(s)” to adjust for changes in the depth of the water, thereby keeping your lure in the strike zone. You also don’t want to cheap out when rigging with tubes; ball bearing swivels are a must and that’s why the Hogy Perfect Tube is produced with ball bearing swivels. Many other manufacturers use a traditional barrel or crane swivel, which really don’t reduce twist and are there mainly to give an angler something he or she can tie their leader to. I have seen some people rig with multiple ball bearing swivels or snap swivels to deal with the scourge of twist in the line. 

If you’re headed for Billingsgate, then be advised that tubes are the best way to target larger fish in the area; there has been some topwater activity with plugs in the early morning, especially if false dawn coincides with slack water and a tide change. Using sand eel imitation jigs and weighted soft plastics are very effective at higher stages of the tide if the fish are hanging deeper in the water column.

striped bass
Bass fishing should only improve as we transition into fall. {@wycegoesfishing on Instagram}

Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich said that there are mainly bluefish being caught on the troll from Wellfleet to Truro; deep diving swimmers are popular and it always pays to have a couple of rods rigged with topwater plugs if the bluefish show on the surface. Just remember that if you do find some surface feeding fish, you will want to get your trolling lines in rather than letting them drop to the bottom, where they can become snagged or even get tangled in your motor’s lower unit. Andy Little said there has been a really good topwater bite in the morning around Barnstable Harbor; we’re not talking about big fish, but big numbers of schoolies.

Meanwhile, the shore folks are enjoying some solid morning topwater action around Sandy Neck, while changing to soft plastics and plastic lip swimmers at night – or even chunk bait – is the way to go.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Despite the disappointment of not finding massive schools of albies, Matt Cody from North Chatham Outfitters said that the bass fishing has been really good, both in the rips and north all the way up to the Southway and on to Nauset Inlet. The size of the average fish has improved, with more over slot fish around Bearses and Pollock Rip, where the topwater bite on plugs such as the Hogy Charter Grade Popper and Hogy Dogwalker has returned to the level of what it was back in June. Soft plastics are also working really well and folks who prefer to cast are happy to be consistently catching some of the bigger fish that a couple of weeks ago seemed to be solely available to wire line jiggers. Matt said that up around Nauset, there has been some solid topwater action in the early morning, but once that quiets down, you can use metal jigs such as the Hogy Sand Eel Jig or soft plastics like Hogy Pro Tail Paddles and Hogy Pro Tail Eels to get down deeper where the fish hold during the heat of the day. 

Typically, when the rips start to see more surface activity, it’s an indicator that there is squid around, but on Monday, Gerry Fine picked up a good number of bass up to the high 30/low 40-inch class using a sinking line and an olive/white Clouser that Capt. Warren Marshall ties to imitate sand eels. The fish were aggressively feeding on the surface, but at the stage of the current we were fishing, even a 350-grain line and a weighted fly is going to hang pretty high in the water column. The highlight of our trip was when Gerry hooked what we thought was another bass, but after a moment of wallowing, this fish took off like a jet and gave my friend a good look at his backing. It proved to be a bonito and it was caught as the tide was starting to slack. And, yes, it was caught on the same Clouser we were using for bass.

Albies aren’t the only hard tails swimming around. Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing finding bonito mixed in with the albies.

Bob Lewis fished Monomoy on his own last Saturday and had a good trip, ultimately moving out to Pollock Rip after being squeezed out of Stonehorse. He said the bass were on the smaller side, with one around 30-inches and the rest between 22 and 26-inches; Bob added that these fish were feeding on squid. 

Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich was all jazzed up about the backside beach fishing when I spoke with him; he said that from Orleans up through Truro, folks are catching bass from the low end of the slot on up. He emphasized that there really aren’t any small fish in the mix and they are taking everything from topwater plugs like big spooks in the early morning to live eels and plastic Finnish style swimmers at night. A variety of soft plastics are also working well, whether fished unweighted in tight or with a jighead or a weighted swimbait hook to get it out to the slough between the bars. 

Matt Cody was also very positive about the beach fishing, to the point where it sounded like it was a bit reminiscent of the glory days; we’re not talking about 30 and 40-pounders, but the bite has been really consistent on eels and darker colored Finnish style swimming plugs at night. The backside is perhaps the only area of the Cape where needlefish are a go-to lure, but Matt said there are some pencil poppers that can be fished very slowly like a needle and produce a killer wake that fish can’t resist. And while there are a number of long cast plastic swimmers being made today, but I can still remember Tony Stetzko telling me how some of his clients would immediately wade right out, only to have Tony tell them to look behind them at the bass that were swimming in the area where they had just charged through. Sand eels are a huge part of what drives the beach fishing on the outer Cape and they reside in the shallow, wet sand area where bass often root them out.


Filmed Last Week!

In this video, Capt. Mike is joined by renowned angler Eric Harrison as they target bluefin tuna on Hogy Sand Eel Jigs

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The bay is a pretty good place to start when it comes to what is going to be a common theme in all of the reports this week: there is a lot of life showing all around the Cape and islands, perhaps a sign that we are starting to see the early stages of bass migrating from points north. I spoke to my friend Barney Keezell today and his take on Boston Harbor is that things are starting to slow a bit and perhaps these are some of the fish on the move. 

In any case, Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reported that the tube-and-worm action has definitely picked up from Old Harbor in Sandwich down to Scorton Ledge, while Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis said that tubes are producing some slot sized bass from the one can outside Barnstable Harbor up to the Fingers. Perhaps it is because of the mainly sandy bottom in the bay, interspersed with patches of weedy/sea grassy bottom, but orange or what Bruce calls “the motor oil color” tubes often out produce red or black.

Epoxy Bass
Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing dropping Hogy Epoxy Jigs down to hungry slot size fish.

Over at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, Andy Little noted that a number of charter boats from Barnstable, Sandwich, and even Sesuit will drag Hootchies off the Sandy Neck parking lot and come up a mixed bag of bass and bluefish; in some cases, you will see them dragging these classic squid imitations on their outriggers while they said up an inside spread of tubes. I’ve never understood this since these two lure types typically are trolled at different speeds, but I am no expert on trolling the bay, so as the old saying goes, “When visiting a strange place, do as the locals do.”

Around the bayside of the outer Cape, Ian Field from Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich said there is still good bluefish action from Wellfleet up to Truro, with trollers using deep diving plugs such as the Rapala X-Rap, with beach fishermen opting for black, black/purple, or mackerel colored swimmers or spooks at night and sand eel or bone colored plugs during the daytime. Billingsgate is fishing OK on tubes or swimmers, but there are far more schoolies than slot or larger bass there at the moment. 

Up inside Barnstable, there has been some solid light tackle and fly rod action as the sand eel schools are really thick this year and the bass bite should only get better as September approaches, while Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth expects the bass activity up on the flats as well as the drop offs into deeper water to really pick up over the next several weeks as the hordes of sand eels are joined by peanut bunker and other small bait. Dedicated sight anglers will continue to focus on larger fish working crabs as well as bait fish, but I do enjoy those times when there are fish breaking everywhere as the tight is dropping and they are able to trap the bait against the bars, accompanied by flocks of terns and gulls, particularly laughing gulls whose distinctive cries always mean fall to me.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Matt Cody from North Chatham Outfitters had the scoop on the biggest news around Monomoy, as someone who has been fishing this area for decades told him that on Wednesday there were more albies than he has ever seen from the point up the east side. The feeds were incredible and at times every boat in the area was hooked up. As far as bass in the rips go, Matt said there is definitely a better bite around Bearses and Pollock Rip, as well as spots farther out to the east, as things have switched over to more of a June feel than the midsummer period. There has been a return to squid activity this week, making topwater plugs like the Hogy Charter Grade Poppers and unweighted soft plastics like the Hogy Originals in bubblegum, bone, and amber excellent choices.

Capt. Diogo Albie
Capt. Diogo of Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing getting in on the early season albie action!

The bluefish action has been consistent from the point to spots west, but there are some bass around, but they are generally on the smaller side

From Pochet up to Nauset Inlet, the sand eel action has shifted to deeper water, between 60 and 90 feet as opposed to the 30 to 60 foot range previously. The Hogy Sand Eel Jig continues to prove its effectiveness in all its available colors, but remember to change the weight you are using based on the depth where you are fishing. 

Shore anglers continue to find good action around Nauset on eels and dark colored swimming plugs, while up around Truro a good number of the regulars are fishing live eels, but Matt added that big unweighted soft plastics – something that Hogy built its reputation on – have outfished needlefish and shallow running Finnish style swimmers from Bomber, RedFin, and Yo-zuri.

Over at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich, Ian Field said the ocean side beaches are definitely fishing better, most likely as a result of colder water temperatures combined with an abundance of bait, particularly sand eels. Head of the Meadow in particular has been fishing well, with slot sized fish in good numbers, along with some much larger bass in the mix. They have been selling lots of eels to the beach crew, with a good number of darker colored plugs as well. 


Check out the all new CLEAR Hogy Charter Grade Poppers.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Although this doesn’t technically count as a CC Bay report, when I was fishing the end of the west current out by the Maritime Academy on Tuesday, we had water temperatures as low as 63-degrees, which certainly indicates there is colder water out in the bay. According to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, there has been a decent tube-and-worm bite shaping up from the east entrance of the Canal down to Old Harbor and this is the time of year when the tube should also start producing quality fish around Scorton Ledge.

Striped bass
Big bass remain in the bay, like this one caught aboard Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing.

Of course, the big word this week concerns the disappearance of the huge pogy school up off Manomet and White Cliffs; I heard from at least a half dozen people who said they went out earlier this week and it was dead. It’s hard to believe that the number of pogies that people were talking about simply vanished and Bruce is convinced that the larger mass of fish broke up and there are smaller concentrations that pushed well up into Plymouth Harbor and other inshore locations farther north. Without the fleet to mark where the fish are, there is a bit more work involved in searching out bait and bass, something that many folks aren’t willing to do. Easy fish are great, but consistent results require effort and knowledge of where to look for baitfish based on wind direction and water temperature changes. 

The shore bite remains steady from the beaches around Sandwich, but it is mainly a bait bite during the daytime, with swimming plugs best after dark. There are also more schoolies up inside the creeks and on the shallows in front of Sandy Neck and up inside Barnstable. Early morning tide changes continue to produce the best topwater action from Barnstable to Chapin’s, as well as the deeper water outside the flats from Dennis to Brewster. 

Billingsgate is holding mostly schoolies with the occasional slot fish, as well as some bluefish; tubes and deeper running swimming plugs are what the trolling crew are using, with sand eel imitation soft plastics the way to go if you prefer to cast. The 5/8 and 7/8-ounce Hogy Epoxy Jigs in olive or silver are effective in the variety of depths in this area; they can be cast and swum right back to the boat as well as vertical jigged when the current is slower and the fish are hanging in deeper water.

From Wellfleet to Truro, there are still schools of bluefish, mainly on the smaller side as the larger fish seem to have moved across the bay towards the Canal. Ian Field from Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich said that the bigger bluefish, along with the occasional bass, have been caught in the deeper water edges, while folks tossing topwater plugs up inside Wellfleet and along the shoreline have been raising bluefish and some smaller bass, especially before first light; with colder water starting to be reported in areas where high daytime temperatures had pushed fish into deeper water, more bass are starting to feed in the shallows even well after sun up. 

Outer Cape Fishing Report

The word from Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters is that the rips are still fishing OK, but any larger fish have been caught out in the rips to the east, while there is a good sand eel bite in deeper water off  the Southway up to Nauset Inlet. Folks are picking up smaller bass right up through the slot fishing jigs in water around 60-feet, while wire line jigging has produced larger fish in the 40+-range in depths around 30-feet, which sounds counterintuitive, but it is what it is. Matt said there are also some big bluefish on the shoals south and west of the point.

The shore bite has been good the last week or so up around Eastham, Matt noted, with swimming plugs like the Bomber and the Yo-zuri LC Minnow top choices among the sand people; best daytime colors include white/pearl or pink, while blurple (black/purple) is the top producer at night. Needlefish, both custom wood and plastic selections from Super Strike, are a tradition on the outer Cape beaches, especially as you get to the beaches from Wellfleet to Provincetown. 

Over at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich, folks are reporting some bass and bluefish around Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light; eel imitation soft plastics, such as the Hogy Pro Tail Eel, are a good place to start, with darker colors at night and lighter variations from first light all the way through the daytime hours. Any larger fish from this area have generally come on live eels and needlefish plugs, with topwater plugs accounting for mainly bluefish from false dawn to early morning.

striped bass
Dual big bass make for a fun outing! Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing finding schools of big fish on large bait.

I had an interesting conversation with Connor Swartz at Red Top in Buzzards Bay; he said he has moved away from fishing the Canal to working the Nauset area with a buddy of his at night. They have been doing well with the black/blue 247 needle, but he admitted that this fishery has proved to be a bit more basic to figure out for someone who is just getting into fishing the outer Cape, while the beaches farther up towards Wellfleet and Truro is a whole other matter. One of the biggest challenges thereabouts is the amount of ground you have to cover on foot to get to the most productive spots, while around Nauset they have been able to pick up fish right in front of the parking lot, as well as after a short walk in either direction. 

There is a ton of small bait in the backwaters such as around Morris Island and Stage Harbor, as well as in the outer beach areas such as Nauset Marsh and Town Cove, and this is a good sign for folks who are familiar with the albie bite that shapes up from Monomoy Point up to Chatham. At the moment, however, there have been no signs of albies and only a handful of bonito have been caught.


Take a look into Capt. Mike’s inshore fishing tackle, featuring the Hogy Mesh Crate Storage System.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

 Cape Cod Bay is definitely one of three areas on the Cape where striped bass can be caught on a consistent basis at the moment – and that doesn’t just mean harassing all of those fish following the pogy schools from Manomet to Boston. That said, if you aren’t into live bait fishing or having to deal with the crowds of boats in those waters, Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore emphasized that trollers working the tube-and-worm or swimming plugs such as the X-Rap Deep have been catching some bigger fish. 

Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis said that this fishing has been garnering so much attention that one of her younger crew at the shop took his kayak up that way and managed to see whales and what A.J. Coots from Red Top in Buzzards Bay had described to me was the larger school of pogies he has ever seen, probably four or five acres of fish from the top to the bottom of the water column. Oh, and this kayaker caught a number of big bass, some of which must have pulled him around pretty good.

striped bass
There are still big fish to be had, just have to put in the time.

In fact, A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay was working on spooling up some reels with wire, probably the most common method used on the Cape to get deep in the water column where bigger fish often hold. While it is common to troll tubes on lead core, not as many folks resort to wire, probably because getting wire to flow off the spool is more challenging to do than using parachute or regular bucktail jigs due to a tube’s decreased weight and increased water resistance. While I knew at least one charter captain who carried outfits with different lengths of wire and lead core, for the average angler, it is kind of nice to have one outfit that you can fish at different levels of the water column and that is where a conventional outfit spooled up with braid and the use of a the Hogy In-Line Trolling Weight can be really effective. By varying the weight you are using, the length of leader, and the speed of the boat, you can effectively fish a variety of depths and that same outfit can be used to vertically jig, bottom fish, and even cast jigs (metal or weighted soft plastic) or heavy plugs in a pinch if you use a light enough reel. Bruce added that tubes, especially orange or motor oil, continue to produce bass up to the lower end of the slot around Billingsgate while during the lower stages of the tide it isn’t uncommon to find bass, mainly schoolies, up on top feeding on sand eels, making lighter weight Hogy Epoxy Jigs and Hogy Sand Eels and seven-inch Hogy Originals effective options, as well as small spooks and pencil poppers.

There are still bluefish being caught around the Path, said Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham, but bass fishing has slowed both from boat and shore. The sand people would be better served bait fishing at the moment, with eels at night and chunks during the day. Swimming plugs, especially the slimmer profile Finnish style are effective over the sand bottom in this area, while Hootchies are a popular item throughout the bay, especially when there are squid around. The same lure and technique options should be effective for Barnstable starting this weekend and running through next week, well before first light high water and turn to outgoing making plugging the marshes and shoreline an option, especially with cooler weather – and hopefully – cooler water predicted this weekend, while you will still have the bottom part of the outgoing tide when you can experience nice topwater action with spooks and small sand eel plastic imitations, while flyrodders have all kinds of sand eel patterns to choose from. Next week, there will be false dawn turns to outgoing, which often see rising fish as soon as you leave Blish Point. Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis expecting things to break open there with the return to fall weather right around the corner. That should also liven up the beach fishing, although Bruce did hear from one angler fishing the Sandwich area who picked up some small slot size fish on chunk mackerel and the word is that these same size fish are being caught on tubes in the Scorton Ledge area.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

This is area number three when it comes to bass potential, with Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters noting that there has generally been a line – a hazy one that can change from day-to-day – of bass in the rips to the north and east of the point and bluefish south and west around Point, Rodgers, Handkerchief, and Shovelful Shoals. The farther north and east you go, it is more likely that you will find bigger fish – well above the slot – feeding on squid, but overall folks are reporting that the fish are feeding on sand eels in most areas. Although there have been reports of small squid in some areas, Matt recommended carrying soft plastics in the seven-inch range like the Hogy Originals when you find fish on squid and bigger, brighter flies for the fly rod crew. He also added that these larger fish are also liking the Hogy Dog Walker, both in amber and white, along with Hogy Charter Grade Poppers. 

Of course, trolling the rips can be no less effective, whether stemming and dropping squid flies or soft plastics back into the white water on lead core line or trolling wire and parachutes; Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis said that one of her regular customers has been doing well trolling swimming plugs, both deep divers and ones that fish a little shallower and can be cast as well as dragged behind the boat.

Up around the stretch of water in the 30 to 60-foot range off of what Matt and the other locals call Shark Cove, which is south of the Southway (which I had no idea is what this new breach is called after knowing the old Southway that was well down on South Monomoy before it closed up), on up to the entrance to Chatham Harbor, there is a solid sand eel jig bite, perfect for the Hogy Sand Eel Jig. Since these fish are spread out of such a large area, there are fewer boats and at times fish will come up on top the closer you get to the shoreline. If you’re new to this area, be advised that the heave of the swell can get pretty big and you definitely don’t want to get near where it breaks on the sand. I used the Southway myself a couple of times recently to avoid the nastiness at the mouth of Stage Harbor with a heavy southwest wind and dropping tide and was shocked at what I said to Matt was “like a ghost town” around Morris Island with one house on the cliff ready to fall into the ocean and remnants of trees and shrubs littering the shoreline. It always amazes me how dynamic the flow of current and sand is on the outer Cape, especially when driven by a good storm. Of course, these structure changes can result in better fishing in some areas and given the number of flyrodders and light tackle anglers I saw fishing the deep water close to the south facing shore of the island, it apparently is very popular with both locals and visitors alike – and Matt added that fishing a live eel at night is a good bet if a larger bass is your goal.

Eels are also working up at Nauset Beach, but Matt said one of the shop staff at North Chatham Outfitters has been picking at fish up into the slot on plugs at night as well. Needlefish are an outer Cape staple among the dedicated pluggers who still do well all the way up the backside, with soft plastics and shallow running swimmers, which I most often call Finnish style after the original member of its clan, the Rapala. 

Up off Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light, some smaller bass and bluefish continue to be caught on the morning tides, said Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich, especially on topwater plugs and chunk baits. One of the saddest things is the lack of tackle shops from Wellfleet to Provincetown, making reliable news tough to get, but maybe the sand people who roam the classic beaches in this stretch at night like it that way. And I do know they catch fish, but work hard for them and deserve a lot of credit for their devotion to plug making and plug fishing. As for daytime plugging from the beaches, by most accounts there have been occasional charges of bluefish up around Race Point.


Filmed Last Week

Despite being in the “Dog Days” of summer, Capt. Mike found some hot and heavy topwater bluefish action at Hedgefence.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Interesting week in Cape Cod Bay as there are still remnants of the cold water that moved in last week, with some larger bass taken from shore in the Sandwich area – that is until a group of large seals showed up off of Scorton Creek and Town Neck, said Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. This is strictly a night fishery, with eelskin plugs and even allowing sinking poppers and plugs like the Hogy Slider to get down and then allowing them to swing in the current before starting a very slow retrieve. 

Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis reported that on Thursday there was a good topwater bite in Barnstable Harbor, with a good number of slot size fish in the mix. Typically, spook style plugs such as the Hogy Dog Walker are really effective, especially bone or white varieties. If the fish aren’t showing, then you can’t go wrong with the Hogy Sand Eel soft plastic rigged on a jighead or a weighted swimbait hook, with the weight determined by the water depth you are fishing. If you have a higher tide in the earliest part of the morning, you can fish up on the shallows using unweighted plastics or even waking plugs like the Dog Walker and then shift over to the drop-offs as the tide moves towards low water. Andy added that this time of year, there are usually some bigger bass caught on plugs up inside Barnstable by shore anglers, but the sand flies and greenheads are so bad that even the hardcores are passing at the moment. The flats are still holding bass down around Brewster, but the larger fish are definitely keyed in on crabs and shrimp, with sand eel patterns still producing for flyrodders in the channels between the bars either side of low water. 

Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing with one of many bluefish from a trip earlier this week.

Bruce said that Billingsgate is producing a lot of smaller bass with the occasional slot fish; the tube-and-worm has been especially productive – if you can get worms that is. Orange or motor oil have been the best colors. He added that the Fingers have been surprisingly quiet for this time of year and if there are any fish being caught by folks trolling tubes from off of Scorton to Barnstable, they are keeping it quiet. The challenge with getting seaworms is that the diggers up in Maine right now are getting better prices for picking blueberries than scratching on the flats, Andy explained. 

The word from Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham is that there are mainly bluefish being caught by boaters trolling Hootchies and swimmers from Wellfleet to Provincetown. Oh, and if you don’t mind playing bumper boats while fishing, the snag-and-drop pogy bite remains the hottest game in town from Manomet and north to Boston; Bruce emphasized that the larger fish are in closer to shore amongst the rocks, with smaller fish outside. Trolling outside the fray with deep diving swimmers such as the Rapala X Raps and even the tube-and-worm is also producing some quality stripers.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Colder water and plenty of bait has kept the rips fishing really well this last week, with the vast majority of bass in the slot along with enough 40+-inch fish to keep things interesting. The ride to Chatham isn’t what I prefer to make, but it’s what you do if you want to get folks into fish, but at least I can trailer and avoid the bumps heading across the sound from port to the west. 

Capt. Warren Marshall of Outcast Charters had an amazing trip on Monday, but things didn’t work out exactly as he thought they would. Upon arriving at a spot north and east of the point – where Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters has said the fishing has been best and getting most of the attention – Warren started to rig up sand eel pattern Clouser’s behind casting jigs, anticipating that the fish would be chewing on sand eels as they were on a fly rod trip last Saturday. He rigged one rod with an amber Hogy Charter Grade Popper and had one angler fish it during the slower water before the rip go going, thinking that they might raise a wayward bluefish, but that first cast produced an explosion of white water and started a non-stop topwater bite that had everyone tired of catching fish after only three hours or so. I was nearby and elected to experiment with the pink and translucent white Charter Grade Poppers and we fish on all morning long, as well as picking up a few on the fly rod using squid flies. Tuesday, I again went with poppers, but other than a couple of half-hearted swirls, the fish wouldn’t commit, so the light bulb finally went off and I re-rigged the rods I had set up with Hogy Originals, switching to Hogy Sand Eel soft plastics rigged on fairly light jigheads. It was game on as we swung these highly imitative lures into the rip, as well as picking up some nice fish on sand eel flies. 

On Wednesday, Warren and his older son David tried topwater plugs with no results before switching over to the fly rod and Clouser’s, picking up a good number of fish up to 34.5-inches. Michael Beebe and I had good success with the long wand as well, with a full/fast sink line keeping the fly away from the shearwaters that continue to plague the area, although they often looked down into the water and watched the fly drop. On the way back in, we checked out Bearses and it too was alive, with fish popping on small bait as it most likely was being swept from rip to rip. Sometimes most of the surface activity was in the flat water between the rip lines and then right along and in the white water. At times, bass of all sizes were visible milling around until they found the bait and started making a ruckus. We hooked up once on a small squid fly, with my thought being that given the aggressive feeding that they might be feeding on juvenile squid, but Matt Cody advised me later that he has seen this type of activity when the bass in the rips are chowing on small sand eels. 

Amanda Grueter caught some gator bluefish on Hogy Epoxy Jigs.

Speaking of sand eels and stripers, Matt said that he went out after work earlier this week and found a good bite in about 30-feet of water off of Chatham. He was using diamond jigs, but I suspect that the Hogy Sand Eel Jig would have worked its magic, along with the Hogy Epoxy Jig in a heavier weight. Matt said he wasn’t really vertical jigging, but casting light jigs in the half to three quarter ounce range, but he did tell me that one of the keys, which his friend turned him onto, is getting the jig right on the bottom and working it right there, when the fish are picky. And I almost forgot: Matt spoke to a boater who was dragging an umbrella rig around Rodgers Shoal when he caught four fish that sure sounded like bonito, but he let them go. Given that bones are in out on Nantucket, it would be no shock if these were funny fish. In fact, I have typically caught my first – and the largest – bonito of the season out at Monomoy while tossing pencil poppers or spooks when trying to raise bluefish around the time of slack water. 

There hasn’t been much to report from the backside beaches, other than mainly bluefish up around Coast Guard and Nauset Light on topwater plugs in the morning and a few bass on bait, both chunk mackerel and squid, as well as live eels, at night, said Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham. The water up inside Nauset Marsh has gotten really warm, making an incoming current towards high water critical, along with low light conditions, if you are working inside the marsh, while the inlet is a good bet as well. Surface plugs will raise fish, but subsurface presentation with weighted soft plastics is more consistently productive. Some good bluefish activity was reported from the beaches up around Provincetown, along with some stripers being caught from Race Point down around to Truro and Wellfleet on needlefish, Finnish-style swimmers, and eels. If you seek bass, prepare to fish in the dark.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

While keeping track of tides and current is critical to success on a given day at a specific spot, sometimes it is even more important to keep track of what the water temperatures and movements are throughout a larger area, thereby be able to predict or determine where fish and bait are or perhaps will be moving. 

That has been the case this week in the bay, according to Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Yesterday, I heard that some photos of bigger fish taken in the Canal were popping up on social media and Bruce advised that these fish were part of a wave that moved west to east in the bay, following baitfish – in this case mostly whiting with some mackerel mixed in as well – that were impacted by a slug of 60-degree water. What that meant was a slowdown, at least on Wednesday and Thurday, in the solid action around Billingsgate while things picked up towards the east. Odds are that since the fish in the land cut came in on the west current, they might have been available for folks fishing before first light from the Sandwich creeks to the east entrance. What doesn’t seem to be in question is that once the Canal current turned east, those fish followed the bait out of the Big Ditch and folks trolling the tube-and-worm did well from Sandwich to Barnstable. I had presumed that the fish pictured on the web were part of the biomass of big bass that have been chowing on pogies around Scusset and White Horse Beach, but as mentioned above, Bruce emphasized that this wasn’t a north to south movement and then into the Canal, but east to west in pursuit of mainly whiting. 

Jack Pinard of Hogy Lures found some fish in the bay willing to eat a Hogy Slowtail.

It should be surprise that the tube-and-worm has been producing large bass at this point in the season, with warmer, sunnier days the norm that drive the fish deeper in the water column and make them more inclined to hit tubes for two reasons: the scent attraction of a nice juicy worm and the slower trolling speed and movements of a tube. Many shops were waiting for the arrival of more seaworms as the availability of this bait staple is dependent on what is going on up in Maine with the tides and moons and how they impact the ability of the diggers to get out on the flats. Some folks will argue that the plastic seaworm or bloodworm imitations that come impregnated with scent work just as well as the real thing, but generally speaking the tubing sharpies that I know typically carry a couple of packages only as backups in case the bite is hot and they run out of bait. Bruce Miller once told me some folks use eelskins or really small whole eels, while pork rind or skinny soft plastic are another alternative – at least in desperation. According to Mike O’Harra at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth, fluorescent orange has been the hot color in the bay, but I would never think of going tubing without a couple of red/wine or black ones as well. 

The other option that folks have been using on the troll in the bay when they want no part of jigging wire is the use of swimming plugs, whether they are one of the longer billed deep divers or even one of those multi-jointed swimmers that most folks associate with casting. The latter won’t work as deeply in the water column, but you can use lead core line and slower trolling speeds to get down to where the fish are holding. There have been some big bluefish also caught on the troll from Billingsgate up through the Path and even off of Herring Cove and Race Point; Mike O’Harra said that along with the good fishing on bass between 30 and 40-inches, they managed a couple of blues in the 12-pound class on a recent trip. He mentioned that red, pink, or white jigs have been popular lately, perhaps because those are good squid imitating colors and folks like Bruce Miller said there have some concentrations of squid in the bay. 

Casting up inside spots such as Barnstable Harbor or along the edges of the shallows from Chapin’s to Rock Harbor is definitely a low light activity; a few dedicated pluggers use needlefish or shallow running or even floating Finnish style swimmers at night and they are joined by a handful of flyrodders who have a solid handle on the tides, shoreline and bars/sloughs if they are wade fishing around the northside, but for the inexperienced, then false dawn is a safer, wiser choice, with sand eel/eel profile soft plastics or white/bone or olive over white spook style surface plugs effective early morning or daytime options. 

Ian Field from Blackbeard’s in Eastham said that high tides will draw bluefish and bass close to the bayside beaches from Eastham to Truro, especially when they coincide with early, early morning right through false dawn. At that time, topwater plugs are a good option, with weighted or unweighted sand eel imitations, Finnish style swimmers, or even live eels better dusk to dawn options. If you prefer to chunk bait, mackerel is always a good option, with squid perhaps an even better option as they are a major target for fish at this in the season and venture into really shallow water. In fact, when wade fishing the Brewster Flats, I have on numerous occasions have had squid all over the sand eel or even silverside imitations I use.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Matt Cody from North Chatham Outfitters said that the bass fishing remains pretty consistent around the rips, with those north and east of the point producing more and better quality fish than those in the sound like Handkerchief and Shovelful. The latter, along with the Point, are more likely to have action with bluefish and there are still schools of smaller bluefish from the Point back to Stage Harbor on the west side. Fluke fishing has been receiving more attention on the shoals and there is some decent sea bass fishing in the deeper water south of Little Ground Shoal and the east side of Nantucket. At least the fog had lifted towards the end of this week, making it more comfortable and less stressful moving between the rips, Matt added. Radar is a wonderful tool, but my experience is that far too many boaters use it as an excuse for running around in conditions where they are putting other boats in harm’s way.

There has also been no word of fish moving from the shoals to the deeper water off Chatham and Nauset, where they typically go on a sand eel bite, making vertical jigging with Epoxy Jigs and Sand Eel Jigs the way to go. 

The flats and backwaters along the outer Cape are still producing some bass, especially towards the openings where colder water from out east can flush in during incoming tide. Ian Field from Blackbeard’s advised fishing from dusk to dawn on either side of high tide, with soft plastic sand eel and eel imitations a good choice, with some topwater action in the early morning. Some bass are also being caught from Coast Guard Beach on chunk baits, while Nauset is a good area to swim eels at night, even in this warmer weather.


Latest Video

In our latest video, Capt. Mike Hogan heads offshore targeting bluefin tuna on spinning gear using a combination of the Hogy Harness Jigs and Hogy Charter Grade Sliders.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

While more than enough attention has been paid to the snag-and-drop bite happening up around the Plymouth area, the reality is that there is some good fishing to be had away from the pogy schools. 

Beth Johnson with a thick bunker fed bass.

Up inside Barnstable Harbor, the action has been mainly on schoolies, with a decent topwater bite early in the morning on small spooks and other topwater plugs, although sand eel imitation soft plastics are generally tough to beat if the fish are feeding on these thin profile baitfish. Rigged on a weighted swimbait hook or jighead, letting your soft plastic drop deeper in the water column is perhaps the best approach to finding any larger fish hanging deeper in the water column if you prefer casting artificials. Trollers, on the other hand, have turned to the venerable tube-and-worm and jigging wire as the water warms, especially in this nasty heat wave we are experiencing, said Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis. Both techniques have been working up around Billingsgate and in the deeper water between the east entrance to the Canal and Barnstable. Trolling for bluefish is also very popular this time of year and over the years nothing has proven more effective on blues when trolling than a class of lures generically called Hootchies; not only are these effective, but with their single Siwash hook, they make for easier release than the multiple treble rigged swimmers that many folks use. 

Another popular option for getting deeper in the water column if you prefer trolling with braided line outfits is the Rapala X Rap Magnum, especially the seven-inch or 40 model. That said, I assume you could also fish these on lead core or perhaps even wire. Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore noted that this lure has been working for folks working outside of the pogy schools in the Plymouth and north stretch; this lure comes in a number of color options, with many folks reaching first for the one that is intended to match a pogy or menhaden, and while this would seem logical, sometimes something a little different can make the difference. I can’t say for certain how many people have caught on to the effectiveness of the Hogy Slider, especially the larger and heavier models, fished on braid or lead core, as a deep swimming option, but switching from trebles to in line single rigging does not impact their action and makes them a great choice for both bass and blues, both in terms of catching and cleaner, easier releases. 

Obviously, the live bait bite is, as mentioned, most consistent from Plymouth up to Boston Harbor, although Jeff mentioned that a number of “recremercials” came into his shop earlier this week and were complaining about the lack of really big fish. It has always seemed amazing to me that so many fishermen can be so braindead as to not realize that a fleet of boats working over a school of bass – or any fish for that matter – concentrated on baitfish like pogies which often hang in an area for a long time will eventually fish that school out. Connor Swartz from Red Top in Buzzards Bay mentioned that while heading out to Stellwagen for tuna, they have passed through some of these schools of pogies and watched as bass were on the surface, actually pushing a wake as they swam; in those scenarios, which most often occur early in the morning or in other lowlight scenarios, topwater plugs have been getting a lot of attention, especially plugs like big spooks, but big soft plastics such as the Hogy 10-inch Original are also good options.

One of the challenges for folks who live to fish live bait but who want nothing to do with the pogy scene is finding mackerel. One angler who did find them about a mile outside of Barnstable turned the macks into a number of bass, including some slot sized fish according to Amy Wrightson at The Sports Port in Hyannis and Osterville. 

For shore anglers working the bayside beaches or wading the flats, the word on the former from Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham and Harwich is that there has been a good topwater bite on bluefish and bass from Eastham to Provincetown. Bone or white plugs have been top daytime producers, including spooks and pencil poppers, while live eels at night have accounted for some larger fish. Of course, as Ian noted, there are those folks who still prefer to fish chunk bait such as mackerel and squid and they are still picking at mainly bluefish from South Sunken Meadow and the beaches up around Wellfleet.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters said that while there had been a push of big bluefish in the rips around Monomoy prior to this week, there have been reports this week of bigger bass returning, including a larger number of overslot fish. Most of the bass are being caught on squid imitations in the rips, but during times of slower current or even slack, both bass and blues have been reported swirling and blowing up on baitfish such as sand eels and what look like small herring. These fish have been tough to target since they are up-and-down so quickly; the only success we have had at times has been either using a fast sink line and a super heavy Half-and-Half sand eel fly on the fly rod or a Hogy Sand Eel Jig, Hogy Sand Eel plastic or  Hogy seven-inch Original on a weighted swimbait hook or jighead. On some occasions, we have opted to wait for a swirl or even a push of several fish and then cast a Hogy right into the action. At times, size of your squid imitations really doesn’t matter, but at others matching length more closely is important, so keep that in mind. 

Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing has been finding plenty of over-size bass willing to play!

One key Matt mentioned is that the larger fish are deeper in the water column, so even when using soft plastics, selecting a jig head or weighted swimbait hook rigging is a good idea. For example, Amy Wrightson at The Sports Port in Hyannis told of two of her employees who fished the Monomoy area recently and caught plenty of fish on white and pink soft plastics. The difference was that the crew using unweighted plastics generally caught smaller fish, while the other group chose to rig their baits on two-ounce jigheads and they fish up to the 40+-inch class. I know of some flyrodders who have also been opting to dredge their squid bugs on super heavy fly lines, letting them sink as deeply as they can. 

As far as the backside beaches go, Matt advised that there has been some sporadic action on larger fish along the beaches from Chatham to Truro at night on live eels and needlefish or Finnish style swimming plugs. These fish have been spread out throughout the area, so locales or regulars who fish this area consistently have been doing OK, while tourist anglers have been confined to some early morning bluefish and schoolie action at Nauset Light and Coast Guard Beaches. In fact, Ian Field at Blackbeard’s said that topwater lures have been working in the early morning around Coast Guard Beach with chunk squid and larger eel imitations a good choice for Nauset Light. Top water plugs have been productive in estuaries such as Salt Pond and Fort Hill, with the key being the times on both sides of high tide, as well as lower light conditions. Up around Race Point, boaters have been catching some bigger bass as well as huge bluefish on sand eel, mackerel, and squid imitations, both trolling and casting.


Latest Video

The schoolie size bluefin tuna bite off of Cape Cod has been one of the best we’ve seen in years! Here’s a look into our latest video, trolling for bluefin tuna just east of Chatham!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

As Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said,
“The lure of the month is the weighted snag hook, “ a pretty good sign
of what technique a whole lot of folks are employing in the bay – the
pogy snag-and-drop. Now, while technically the only segment of the
fishing community that can “legally” snag a pogy and then leave it on
the weighted treble to drop below the school, thereby presenting an
injured, struggling baitfish to the waiting bass, the reality is that I am
certain both some of the recreational and charter operations that are
taking advantage of this slaughter are not transferring their baits to
circle hooks as they are required to do. After all, it’s pretty easy to just
say, “Well, I snagged a pogy and then a bass ate it before I had the
chance to switch it over,” just like those folks who fish for bass in the
EEZ and then say, “Well, I was targeting bluefish (or tuna, or whatever)
and I caught a bass.”

Capt. Mike Hogan with fiesty topwater bluefish.

Anyway, don’t think for a minute that livelining pogies is the only way
to catch big fish in the bay right now, Jeff advised. Deep diving
swimming plugs are working really well for boats that are trolling
outside the pogy schools and he added that while some folks are
convinced that the pogy color is the only one to use, the silver version,
which also matches the shad that fish are munching on as well. While I
was in Canal Bait, I saw one guy come in looking for a bunker swimmer
that he had called about three days earlier, when Jeff apparently had
ten in stock but he had sold in the meantime. Supply chain limitations
are still an issue and I highly recommend that if you absolutely need to
have a given lure, that when you find a supply, but it – or better yet,
pick up a couple in case one gets snapped off during a cast or due to a
poor knot or a visit from Mr. Bluefish.
The tube-and-worm is a solid bet to pick up some bass around spots
like Barnstable Harbor and Billingsgate, but it is also a good mid-
summer producer along the shallows between Barnstable and
Brewster. Bruce Miller added that bunker spoons are another option
when fishing around the deeper holes and humps that stretch from just

outside the east entrance to the Canal out to the Fingers and other
spots from Sandwich to Barnstable.
The word from Matt Cardarelli at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South
Yarmouth is that jigging wire is the way to go when targeting larger fish
around Billingsgate, with casters generally picking at smaller bass. He
didn’t hesitate in picking red as the most popular color jig and
remember that unlike the sounds and Monomoy where parachute
styles are the way to go, up in Cape Cod Bay they prefer a basic nylon
hair jig.
In fact, it was one of those that most likely scored the largest bass
weighed in during the Charter Cup, an event the raises money for 15
different charities and that Andy Little from The Powderhorn in Hyannis
has served as weighmaster since its inception. That fish tipped the
scales at just over 17-pounds, a really nice plump fish given the upper
end of the recreational slot is less than 35-inches. Although he couldn’t
say exactly where that fish came from along the northside – and frankly
I wouldn’t want him to – Andy believes it was caught somewhere
between Sesuit and Barnstable.

Colin Ward getting in on the hot tuna bite!

I typically avoid the hue-and-cry that takes place up around
Provincetown when the bass are chewing on sand eels and mackerel,
but I can imagine that scene is even crazier with all of the reports of
school sized tuna from the Race over Peaked Hill and out to
Stellwagen– and, yes, I know I am violating the boundaries of CC Bay,
but plenty of folks who start fishing around Herring Cove, for example,
eventually make it to the point and around the corner. The word is that
if you are looking to tangle with a bluefin on the fly, this is the place to
be, with baitfish patterns from Skok, Puglisi, and others the way to go.
If you prefer spinning tackle, then everything from vertical jigging metal
and soft plastic paddles to tossing topwater plugs has been effective
and remember that Hogy has you covered for any of these techniques,
from an big tuna grade Epoxy Jigs and Sand Eel Jigs to Pro Tail Paddles
and Pro Tail Eels to tuna grade Charter Grade Poppers, Dog Walkers, and

Andy added that the casting bite remains really good, particularly at
first light, around Barnstable with fish feeding on sand eels, for the boat
crew, shore anglers are enjoying topwater activity at false dawn around
the Sandwich creeks and around the flats that you can access safely
during certain stretches of the tide between Barnstable and Brewster. I
mention safety since the height of the tides in the bay is far too often a
surprise to inexperienced anglers who visit the northside and they can
get stranded if they fail to drop back to the shore as the tide rises –
typically about half a foot every 15 minutes or so, but even more so
during moon tides.

Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing finding big bass on the fly rod!

Flats guide and expert Chris Kokorda has been posting photos of really
nice bass that he and his clients have been catching and while it is
tempting to just go with sand eel imitations, especially when you see all
of the tern activity during lower stages of the tide, the reality is that fish
on the flats love crustaceans, from crabs to shrimp.
Finally, Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham noted that the bass and
bluefish bite has been consistent on the bayside beaches from his neck
of the woods up to Provincetown; plenty of folks prefer to chunk bait
such as mackerel and squid at spots such as South Sunken Meadow, but
early mornings can see some solid topwater action on plugs such as
pencil poppers.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters said
that while the bass fishing around Monomoy remains
very good, a lot of people have turned their attention to trolling and
casting for bluefin, especially when they have been reported at Crab
Ledge – and even closer to shore up around the Golf Balls and Peaked
No doubt targeting the white water of the rips is the number one
priority, whether you are tossing plugs, soft plastics, or flies or jigging
wire, but don’t overlook the flat water either between the rip lines or

well off one of them; I fished with Capt. Mike’s sister, Deb, and her
family on Thursday and they did a job raising fish on the amber Hogy
Charter Grade Popper.
Subsurface presentations were also working well for the fly rod boats
that I saw, with most using fast sink lines, whether they were casting-
and-swinging (yay!) or jigging (nay!). A couple of the larger charterboats
were jigging wire with some larger fish coming aboard, while Bob Lewis
noted that he has been using smaller squid flies on his lead core outfits.
I don’t know what it is about all the shearwaters around the waters
surrounding Monomoy, but be advised that they can be a hazard as
they stay really low to the water and glide, making them easy targets
for a bird strike, as happened to Capt. Mike on his return trip from Crab
Ledge this week.

Chip Rich with a nice schoolie bluefin tuna.

Along with the shearwaters, there have been clouds of gulls, including
my favorite laughing versions, and terns around many of the rips,
although the largest concentrations I have encountered have been
north of Bearses and between there and Pollock Channel. There have
been bass and blues popping bait on the surface in these areas for well
over a week and for a couple of days the word from Matt Cody is that
flyrodders were reporting sightings of worms in the area. It’s new to
me, but Matt said this isn’t the first time he has heard of them showing
in these waters.
It only makes sense that with fish swirling and exploding on the surface
that tossing poppers and other surface plugs would be the approach
folks would take – and I have been guilty of this myself the last couple
of trips out east – but we found the seven-inch Original Hogy in
bubblegum rigged unweighted the way to go on sizeable bass and
monster bluefish, along with a secondary approach of small soft plastics
on very light jigheads. Deb Hogan told me that she saw some small
white baitfish fly out of the water before being inhaled, while there are
also schools of big sand eels and – as expected – squid in the area.
Although it was tough seeing anything in the fog, we did find scattered
fish popping on top as we moved north towards Chatham Inlet and

Matt Cody said that the bass have been starting to move north into
deeper, cooler water, which should kickstart the vertical jig sand eel
Up around Nauset Marsh and Salt Pond, there has been a good
topwater bite on bass up to 40+-inches, said Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in
Eastham, with the two hours before and two hours after high tide best.
Folks fishing squid or live eels have been doing well around Long Nook
in Truro as well as the backside beaches around Eastham and Wellfleet.
Sand eel soft plastic imitations are very effective backside beach
producers, along with needlefish at night.



Coming Soon…

Here’s a sneak peek into Capt. Mike’s latest offshore tuna trip. Stay tuned for the full length version!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The fishing around the pogy schools from Scussett up
to Plymouth and beyond is still getting a lot of attention from
recremercials and even recreational anglers looking for a big fish,
although I still don’t understand catch-and-release live bait fishing. I
guess the thrill is in pulling on a bigger fish, but I sure hope that folks
are carefully releasing these bass and, of course, remembering that
recreationals have to use circle hooks.

Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said that trollers are
turning to the tube-and-worm, from around the pogy schools when the
fish go deep after feeding to Barnstable and Billingsgate as well as up
around Provincetown. Orange or red tubes are top producers, but the
motor oil color sometimes gets more attention.
And even though not many people employ them, Bruce advised that
the few sharpies who employ bunker spoons have been doing well from
the Double Humps out to the Fingers.
The topwater bite in the morning around Barnstable Harbor has been
very good, with mainly smaller bass but enough slot sized fish to make
things interesting; Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said that
both small light colored topwaters and soft plastics have been working

Amanda Grueter’s niece caught this bluefish on a 7/8oz Hogy Epoxy Jig.

While the fishing around the Sandwich creeks is, again, mainly a small
fish activity, Bruce reported that a few lower end of the slot fish were
caught this week on bait, mainly chunk mackerel.
Bait has also been the key to catching bass and even some bluefish
around South Sunken Meadow Beach, noted Ian Field from
Blackbeard’s in Eastham; both mackerel and squid have been working

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Just too good, if that’s possible. All of
the rips are holding fish, mainly slot sized and I would dare say that it
would be a challenge to find something that these fish won’t eat. Sarah
Perkins and her son Ben and nephew Tom fished there on Thursday and
had a blast watching bass cruising the rip before walloping their Hogy
Squid Plugs and Charter Grade Poppers. We also watched folks jigging
squid flies and soft plastics with good results.
And what was particularly interesting was how the fishing erupted in
the calmer, deeper water between the rips, making for some
impressive surface feeding.

Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing finding plenty of slot-sized bass willing to eat.

To add to that, while we were having a great time with the bass, it was
obvious that a good number of boats had no interest in them, setting
up drifts through the shoals to target fluke, which Matt Cody at North
Chatham Outfitters said are being caught in increasing numbers,
eliminating the need to make the long run to Nantucket.
As I have already suspected, the outer Cape beaches are producing
decent numbers of bass, but only a select few hardcores fish them

often and well. Matt heard that Nauset has been producing fish at night
on eels, while spots to the north from Wellfleet to Provincetown are
popular with the needlefish crew.
Ian Field at Blackbeard’s in Eastham added that the fishing has been
good around the Nauset Marsh, with small topwater plugs and soft
plastics effective in this area.


Soft Plastic Stripers

Throwing big soft plastic baits for striped bass has gained a lot of traction in the past few seasons. The life like action of a big soft plastic is something no plug can replicate. Take a look back to a video filmed a few seasons ago highlighting the effectiveness of the Hogy 10′ Originals for topwater stripers.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Although livelining or snag-and-drop fishing with pogies
continues to be the big thing from the east entrance to the Canal and
spreading north towards Boston, Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle
in Sagamore explained that when the bigger fish have gorged on
menhaden, they will often drop into deeper water where some folks
have been using the tube-and-worm with some success. Of course, one
of the interesting questions is where did all those big fish come from
since there is no evidence that they came through the Canal. Bruce
believes that with a lack of mackerel or other large forage out around
Provincetown and in federal waters, the mass of cows moved across
the bay and chow down on one of their favorite sources of protein.
Many of the fish being caught are long-and-lean, like a 51-inch fish that
Bruce weighed in at just over 40-pounds.

Big bass caught aboard Cape Star Charters.













Ian Lumsden at Red Top in Buzzards Bay said the pogy bite has moved
up as far as far as Scituate, with some folks targeting these larger fish
with big topwater plugs like spooks as well as larger swimming plugs.
While this scene has been grabbing lots of attention, there is still some
very good fishing to be had in other parts of the bay.
Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis reported that there have
been some good topwater action in the early morning on slot size bass
around Barnstable Harbor; white or bone remains the top producing
color. My nephew Frank was up that way earlier this week in the
afternoon for some family time out on west bar and told me that he
encountered surface feeding bass on his way out from Blish Point,
albeit mostly smaller ones.
Billingsgate has also been producing mainly schoolies and a smattering
of slot fish; wire-and-jigs are typically most effective this time of year as
the fish start to sit deeper in the water, but if you prefer casting, then
sand eel profile soft plastics like the Hogy Pro Tail Eel are good options.
Speaking of sand eels, Ian Field over at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said
there has been an “insane” sand eel bite up around Race Point this
week on bass from schoolies to 40+ inch stripers, with squid another
bait the fish are targeting in the area.

Slot-sized fish like this one caught aboard Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing have invaded Cape Cod.











For shore anglers, the Sandwich creeks are a steady bet for flyrodders
and light tackle anglers using sand eel imitations. The flats/shallows
from Barnstable to Brewster continue to feature occasional bursts of
surface activity with smaller bass chowing on sand eels, but your larger
bass are keyed in on crabs right on the bottom.
Ian Field noted that shore anglers are doing well at South Sunken
Meadow, mainly using chunk mackerel or squid, with a few folks
tossing topwater plugs at first light; bone and mackerel have been
popular colors. Finally, the winter flounder bite is starting to slow, admitted Lee
Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth; there are still
fish being caught off of Sesuit Harbor, but you are going to have to
work harder and longer to find any numbers of fish. This may be a good
time to try chumming to stir up some action.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

It’s just plain good on the shoals. I
fished there on Wednesday with brothers Joe and John Nolan and we
caught some really nice bass, both on the fly and spin. Pink was the go
to color for us, including the seven-inch Hogy Original on a swimbait
hook and a very simple squid pattern: hackles for tentacles, estaz
grande palmered for the mantle, and a pair of really big eyes. We also
saw fish caught by folks jigging wire and on surface plugs; we were
doing so well on the Hogy soft plastics that I never broke out the
Charter Grade Poppers, but I am confident they would have worked
really well. The fish were definitely feeding on squid, but Matt Cody at
North Chatham Outfitters said that at times on certain shoals, sand eel
imitations have been doing the trick. There are also some really big
bluefish around, although it was kind of cool to see a mix of smaller
blues and schoolies popping on small bait in on the edge of the
shallows as were heading back to Stage Harbor.

John Burns caught this toothy bluefish on The Hogy Charter Grade Surface Plug.














We also saw a good number of people wading the flats from outside
Stage to the cut between North and South Monomoy, as well as a
couple of flats boats on the pole. Although it has not reached the level
of attention that it did at one time, the Monomoy flats are fishing very
well, especially with crab flies.
Along the backside beaches, the best fishing is definitely at night
according to Ian Field from Blackbeard’s in Eastham; some larger fish
have been caught on live eels in the Fort Hill area, but sand eel soft
plastics have been producing a lot of bass of all sizes. Finnish style
swimming plugs are a good early morning alternative, with some
topwater action just before and around first light.

Fluke Fishing Report

Matt added that the inshore fluke bite around the Monomoy shoals is
also picking up; you’re not going to get shots at doormats like they pick
up southeast of Nantucket, but there are increasing numbers of fish in
the 20+-inch range. In fact, I spoke to one commercial fluker who said

he has been picking up around 50 to 60-pounds of selects on his trips
there, while he manages around a half dozen fish of that size if he
fishes the sounds closer to Falmouth.


Catch & Release

Here’s a guide to rigging a Hogy Charter Grade Popper for catching and releasing striped bass. This method minimizes damage done to the fish, ensuring a healthy release!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

If you haven’t heard the news, the commercial fleet parked itself
in the waters between Plymouth and Manomet and, as Bruce Miller at Canal Bait
and Tackle in Sagamore put it, “They were catching all big fish livelining pogies.”
With the general absence of mackerel in the bay, the fish have turned their
attention in a big way to pogies, which are apparently very plentiful, with schools
spread out all over. At least a half dozen folks told me it was an absolute
slaughter, a scene that had one person texting, “We have to end the commercial
fishery in this state!”

Snap Shot Charters with a beautiful bass that fell for the Hogy Charter Grade Slider.

Now, if you elect to liveline pogies as a recreational angler, remember that if you
snag your bait, you must transfer it to a circle hook before putting it in front of a
bass. Commercial – or as I dubbed them many years ago, “recremercials,” since
99% of them are recreational anglers masquerading as commercial fishermen –
can still use the old snag-and-drop, whereby one casts a snag hook – a weighted
treble – into a school of pogies and then reels it with the sole purpose of impaling
a baitfish. At this point, they open the bail on a spinning reel or put their
conventional reel in free spool, allowing the injured pogy to drop in the water
column, making it a perfect target for a waiting cow. I got into an argument with a
DMF representative who said that they were making the commercial sector
exempt from the circle hook requirement because they were “better” anglers, but
I can assure you that the snag-and-drop method has a high rate of post release
mortality and it would be a good step for the Bay State to drop the commercial
exemption, as they did in 2021 for the for hire sector.

Unreel Sportfishing with a daytime broom tail bass.

Frankly, if you prefer to use artificial lures, it would be foolish to try and cast plugs
or plastics anywhere near the pogy dunking activity; when bass turn on to pogies,
they aren’t interested in anything else. I have run across pogy liveliners along the
Elizabeths and could not even get a sniff from a fish while tossing eels, normally a
top big bass producer in their own right.
If you do find a school of pogies with no other boats around harassing them and
there are clear signs that bass are hanging around them, then big surface plugs
are one way to try and entice a bass blow up. Big spooks have become the go to
topwater plug and I can’t imagine that anyone who fishes plugs for stripers hasn’t
heard of their effectiveness. Large jointed swimbaits are another option, while I
have a nice selection of big, heavy Hogy Pro Tail Paddles that I have been wanting
to drop down under a school of pogies that is being shadowed by bass – but I still
can’t bring myself to put away my topwater plugs. I guess it’s like when I started
fly fishing; someone told me that the only way I would gain confidence in the fly

rod if I left my spinning rod home. Sounds like I might have to leave the plug
boxes home one of these days and commit to the paddle.
It’s kind of hard to picture all those big bass swimming across CC Bay from up
around Provincetown where there had been the typical June mackerel and sand
eel bite starting to shape up, That said, I did talk to at least one group of anglers
who said that things were kind of dead up that way, but there are still some
smaller bass and bluefish along the bayside outer Cape beaches and Billingsgate is
primarily producing smaller bass.
Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said that Barnstable is holding mainly
schoolies and a few low slot fish, making for good topwater action with small
spooks, while you can’t beat soft plastics like the Hogy Sand Eel when the fish are
keyed in on this bait.

Brian Kelly with a strong release on this chunky bass.

The flats are fishing well, with fly anglers definitely enjoying the advantage of
being able to employ crab flies and other bottom presentations that bass –
especially big bass – find more appealing that ripping soft plastics on the surface,
hoping for a reaction strike, or trying to rig one weighted and get it to look and
fish just right.
The flounder bite remains good as well, with boats heading out of Sesuit, in
particular, enjoying solid catches, noted Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in
South Yarmouth.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

There are definitely bass being caught from the backside beaches
and some quality fish to boot, but the key is fishing at night, explained Matt Cody
at North Chatham Outfitters. The Nauset area is one stretch that he said is fishing
very well at the moment, with traditional plugs such as needlefish working well.
Up around Provincetown, there are some good schools of bluefish.



Filmed Last Monday!

In this video, Capt. Mike Hogan heads out to the rips off of Monomoy targeting striped bass. Hogy Poppers in translucent pink and amber color were the ticket to success in imitating the squid these bass were feeding on!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Another interesting week in the bay, with the sand eel
bite happening out around Provincetown, meaning a variety of
techniques including vertical jigging with metal jigs such as the Hogy
Sand Eel Jigs and Epoxy Jig when you are marking schools of fish
holding in deeper waters, as well as casting the same lures along with
soft plastics and topwater plugs when the shoals of these thin baitfish
are being pushed to the surface. Although this area can be a solid way
for flyrodders to catch their personal best, be advised the common
courtesy is lacking, especially among the charter fleet that employ
jigging and drifting sand eels. Typically, you will find boats clustered up
on what they feel is where the only fish are, but in fact over the years I
have had good results hanging out by myself using fast/full sink lines
and larger sand eel imitations, especially weighted ones. I know it is
probably not an option for a lot of folks, but this is one area that I
typically stay away from on weekends and holidays.
Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters heard that folks who prefer to
liveline mackerel are struggling to find bait throughout the bay; in fact,
my nephew Frank was fishing Billingsgate last Sunday and they
managed to pick up only a handful of macks – the larger variety that
the smaller fish on the shoals kept banging around with no chance of
getting one down.
Chunking has become far more common given the size of the bass,
including around Barnstable Harbor where Amy Wrightson at The
Sports Port in Hyannis said that regulars who fish this area pretty much
every day that can get out have been encountering mostly slot fish, like
the 28-inch fish that Frank managed to pick up with their one remaining
mackerel just outside Blish Point.
Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said that bunker spoons
and deep diving swimming plugs (you can generally tell these by their
longer swim lips) are preferred by trollers working around any small
pods of mackerel they find – and the bait is definitely concentrated in
small areas that wise folks are keeping to themselves.

Out on Billingsgate and throughout the B-Harbor area, small spooks and
pencil poppers are a good choice, but remember most of these are
schoolies and rig your lures accordingly. Personally, soft plastics rigged
in a variety of ways based on the depth of the water you are fishing are
a cleaner alternative – although it is tough to resist those topwater

Capt. Terry Nugent of Rip Tide Charters putting his clients on nice sized bass.

The bayside beaches from Eastham to Truro are producing most of the
fish for the shore crew out east; certain spots have dedicated chunkers
pretty much every day, noted Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters,
with mackerel the preferred bait.
Slow twitching unweighted soft plastics, especially translucent amber
and sand eel color sare a good bet for spin anglers who want to fish the
flats, which at the moment are fishing really well. The challenge
becomes when the fish are feeding on crabs and shrimp with their eyes
focused on the bottom; in those cases, especially in low light
conditions, ripping a larger soft plastic in a brighter color such as
bubblegum might draw a reaction strike.
Oh, and if wade anglers are working an area, steer clear with your boat
and keep a very respectful distance. In fact, you might learn something
by watching how they stage up around channels and ambush points,
,waiting for the fish to move with the tides. A Power Pole will help you
hold a position, but an old fashioned alternative is an anchor – quietly
employed of course.

Hogy Tip – I know there is some debate over whether fluorocarbon
leader material is necessary, but if there is one type of fishing where it
can make a difference for sure, it is skinny water on bright days.
Another advantage is that fluoro sinks a bit faster, which helps when
the fish are scrounging dinner. And if you keep getting refusals,
consider using lighter leader materials and even lengthening your
tippet or your entire leader.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

While I was hunkered down in the
basement on Monday with the dogs, waiting for the vicious
thunderstorms passed, Capt. Mike and Jack Pinard “were planning on
an early departure out of Falmouth, but the thunderstorms kept us in
the slip until 7:30. We made our way through the fog to the rips of
Monomoy. The tide was slack once we got there but as soon as it got
moving we were on fish. Capt. Mike was throwing the translucent pink
popper and I was using the amber and it was pretty much a fish on
every cast. The bass were cruising out in the smooth water just in front
of the rip; as soon as you gave the popper a couple pops you were likely
to have a fish swirl behind it. Most of our fish were between 26-34

inches, all caught on Hogy poppers. This bite lasted pretty much all

Capt. Mike Hogan with a nice size bass at the rips of Monomoy.

Matt Cody from North Chatham Outfitters said this early season bite
has been the best in a couple of years. While a week or so ago, you had
to fish a specific rip to find fish, at the moment you would be hard
pressed to find water that isn’t holding fish. Most of the fish are in the
slot, with 80% between 30 and 33-inches. Matt took a fly trip there on
Thursday morning and they couldn’t keep the bass off their orange
squid flies, which they were fishing on full sink lines. Spin anglers are
doing well on pretty much anything squid colored, including pink,
white, orange, and amber; soft plastics and surface plugs are favorites,
but Matt added that the Hogy Slider is a good rip plug, along with your
more traditional Finnish style minnow swimmer.
Along with all of the bass, there are some gator blues in the mix, fish
that are well into the double digit class. As for the backside beaches, Matt C. explained that the fish up around
Provincetown that are feeding on sand eels haven’t really made it
around the corner and down towards the Truro and Wellfleet beaches,
where you are most likely going to encounter fewer seals as opposed to
spots such as Nauset and Coast Guard Beach.

Fluke Fishing Report

With everyone pretty much focused on bass, there isn’t much attention
being paid to fluke close to Monomoy, but folks like Bob Lewis have
discovered that you can pick up some quality fish on the shoals closer
to home as opposed to making the long run to the waters south and
east on Nantucket. We’re not talking about double digit doormats, but I
can tell you that folks fishing the sounds towards Falmouth and
Mashpee would be very happy to have the kind of action folks like Bob
have experienced. While he is generally fishing deeper holes, I
sometimes entertain myself towards the quieter times of the tides
drifting the shoals and picking up fish on the fly.


Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Some really big bass are being caught in the bay right now, including fish in the
50-pound class up around Provincetown. Typically, June sees many of these big fish taken on
topwater plugs, especially spooks and poppers, or by folks livelining mackerel; however, the
tube-and-worm accounted for what the anglers said were a pair of 50’s off of Herring Cove
Beach. The sand eel bite in this area also makes for great opportunities for fly rod and light
tackle anglers to hook up with bass beyond the schoolies they might be catching in other
Amy Wrightson at The Sports Port in Hyannis spoke to a couple of her regulars who continue to
pick away at slot fish around Barnstable, typically on mackerel, whether they are small enough
to liveline or by chunking if they are too large for anything other than a monster bass to handle.
Of course, there is no real need to fish bait if you want to enjoy the activity around Barnstable;
Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis said that plugging for bass up slot size has been very
good, especially at first light.

Jeff Goldshmidt found some bass jigging off of Race Point.

From the deeper water north of Billingsgate to the Fingers, guys trolling bunker spoons have
been doing well on what appear to be concentrations of larger bass feeding on the small
schools of mackerel in the bay, noted Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore.
To the east, the flats are fishing really well out Brewster way, but it would be kind of nice if the
boat contingent would give the wade guys a break and steer clear of where they are fishing. By
insisting on using boats that are inappropriate for skinny water or even running motors in
shallow water in any type of craft, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the fish are going to get
spooked out. Crab patterns are often the key to getting bit even when there are clouds of sand
eels around; too many times it is tempting to strip baitfish imitations way too quickly and way
too often, while crabbing often proves the virtues of the “no retrieve retrieve,” where
incorporating the right materials to create enticing action as the current moves over them while
they hold on the bottom as opposed to having to create action through forward movement can
be the ticket.
There has been a decent bite on the shallows to the east and west of the entrance to
Barnstable, while Bruce added that there are plenty of smaller fish in the Sandwich creeks.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Are there bass to be caught along the backside? Plenty of folks would say that
the seals have ruined things, but there are still dedicated shore anglers who fish the night and
early morning tides and catch bass – some pretty nice ones at that. Yeah, there are plenty of
seals around, but there are stretches that can be fished at the moment with needlefish or soft

plastics with no pinnipeds around the hassle you. A lot of shore folks are probably
concentrating on the Provincetown beaches given the reports of good boat action up that way,
but Nauset should be holding fish now that they are showing around Monomoy. Paul Newmier
used to tell me that a jighead/soft plastic combination was tough to beat around the Eastham
beaches at this time of year; the sand eel populations might not be what they used to be, but
imitating these baitfish is always a good way to start on the backside.


Squid Bite

This time of year, Striped bass in Cape Cod Bay are gorging on squid. The Hogy Charter Grade Popper in amber is a perfect offering to to present to these squid hungry bass!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Amy Wrightson from The Sports Port in Hyannis said that it has
been a challenge finding mackerel, which a lot of boats depend on at this time
since livelining around Barnstable Harbor is popular at this time of year. Folks that are
finding them are obviously catching fish, but they are often spending an
inordinate amount of time looking for bait.
And then they do, advised Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, they
are often faced with macks that are just too big for the fish they are feeding them
to. I have seen small bass banging on baitfish that are much too large for them to
eat and it can be pretty frustrating. Of course, Bruce said there is a simple
solution and that it to feed them chunks instead of the whole fish.
There is also the option of using artificials, Bruce continued, and whether you are
around Barnstable or closer to the east entrance of the Canal, that includes
paddletail jigs and deep diving swimming plugs, with bunker spoons a very
effective alternative when bass are on mackerel, but one that not many anglers
Matt Cody from North Chatham Outfitters said that the hot bite of a week or so
ago at Billingsgate has slowed a bit; there are still fish around, including some in
the slot, but the larger fish have scattered. As far as the Provincetown sand eel
bite goes, Matt said it is just starting to happen.
Shore anglers are also enjoying a good topwater bite inside Barnstable, said Andy
Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, with early morning a good time to toss
smaller walk-the-dog plugs; an outgoing turn at first light is tough to beat.
Both flyrodders and light tackle anglers continue to find plenty of fish around the
Sandwich creeks; small soft plastics do a great job of imitating the small forage in
the area, while the long wand crew are having success with a multitude of sand
eel and silverside imitations.
On the flats, the bite is very good, but remember while spin anglers often pretty
much limit themselves to sand eel imitations since that is the main forage they
see or use larger soft plastics or even topwater plugs to draw a reaction strike,
flyrodders in the know understand that crab or shrimp patterns are tough to beat.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Bob Lewis ferried his nephews Hunter and Austin along
with renowned wade fly fishing guide Chris Kokorda out to the flats last Sunday
and they just had an excellent adventure, with plenty of bass on crab flies. Bob
sent me a photo from their trip and quite frankly it really reminded me how much
I miss the peace and quiet of wade fishing; the water was absolutely pristine and
the scene was so serene with no boats filled with anglers wielding rods like they
were going to battle.

While the trio were fishing, Bob had to make sure that he kept from going
aground before it was time to pick them up and he told me that despite all the
action they were enjoying, he didn’t see a fish go by him.
Eventually, Bob ran out to the point and elected to head for Handkerchief, the
one shoal that he believed where the water might be warm enough to hold fish
since it is in the sound, as opposed to east of Monomoy. He started casting a
popper on spinning tackle and had a fish follow and it was the same when he
switched over to the fly rod and a surface bug. Bob surmised that their lack of
interest was due to the slack tide, but there is also the possibility they had been
feeding on the warmer tide coming out of Nantucket Sound and were now
digesting their food before the cold water came flooding in from the open
Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters reported that some of their customers
have started fishing the rips around Monomoy, generally with squid imitations,
and have been picking at bass into the slot, while there are plenty of schoolies up
inside Pleasant Bay and the other estuaries in the area. As far as the backside
beaches, Matt said he caught a lone schoolie on a recent trip, but added that it
was most likely a migrating fish as opposed to one of the resident bass that will
hang around these waters throughout the summer and into the fall.


Filmed last Monday!

Stripers have arrived full force in the rips feeding on squid. In this video Capt. Mike shares his favorite technique using Amber Charter Grade Poppers to imitate squid for exciting topwater striper action.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

The bass activity in the bay is definitely improving,
according to Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis. There aren’t a
ton of mackerel around and they are very large; in fact, the word he got
is that livelining isn’t really working, with the fish most likely to take
chunks. Up inside Barnstable Harbor, there has been very good early
morning topwater activity on walk-the-dog plugs, in particular, while
flyrodders and light tackle anglers are catching plenty of fish on sand
eel imitations. The flats are also fishing quite well; Andy was over by
Chapin’s Beach the early this week and there were birds working hard
over what he assumed were bass, while the shallows down Brewster
way have been good, with mostly school fish, but enough slot and
larger bass to make things interesting.
Amy Wrightson at The Sports Port in Hyannis spoke to a couple of her
customers who keep their boats on the northside and they have been
picking up slot size bass out around the Bell Buoy and along the
channels at the entrance to the harbor.
Finally, Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth
confirmed that the flounder bite is still very strong in the bay, with folks
heading out of Sesuit picking up their limit of real nice flatties.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters actually said
that the best news he had came from the other end of the Cape, where
he and some friends fished the Wareham area for big bass on plugs.
Otherwise, he said he wouldn’t bother wasting gas to drive up and try
Provincetown or any of the backside beaches, for that matter since the
water is still way too cold. Not many, if any, boats are out working the
backside or the Monomoy rips. Instead, it’s the same story: boaters and
shore anglers working the shallower, warmer water of Pleasant Bay,
with some attention being paid to Stage Harbor and Morris Island.


Cape Cod Bay Stripers

Hogy Sandeel jigs are a perfect sand eel presentation, especially this time of year! Vertical jig them and hold on!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Things are definitely starting to pick up in the bay, at
least based on the information I was able to gather.
Amy Wrightson from The Sports Port in Hyannis read from a report
from last weekend penned by Morgan, a junior from Barnstable High
School who is just a great, responsible worker, Amy emphasized.
Apparently, some mackerel have shown around the bell buoy off of
Barnstable Harbor and a few slot fish were caught on them. Morgan
clarified that these macks were huge and they weren’t thick, but at
least there was some news about these very important baitfish.
Morgan added that there was some decent schoolie action as well, with
small soft plastics working best.
The word from Evan Eastman at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth
is that he heard from an angler on Wednesday who had just returned
from a very productive trip to the Sandwich creeks. He had caught
upwards of 20 fish on a mackerel topwater plug, with a number of the
fish in the slot. He added that there was a trio of flyrodders who were
catching fish and one of them hooked something that he couldn’t stop.
Now I know that in the past around Trunk River in Falmouth, it was
traditional to live line herring when it was legal and each year someone
would hook up with the world record striper, which turned out to be a
seal. That said, I can’t imagine a seal taking a fly for any reason, so most
likely it was one of the 40+-inch bass that have been reported in the
Canal and in this case already made its way into the bay and the creeks.
Bob Lewis also heard of some bass being taken on the bay flats by
flyrodders; at this time of year, sand eel patterns are often used with
good results as the early arrivals aren’t pressured as they will be as the
season progresses, but these shallows also hold good numbers of crabs

and shrimp and the regulars are noted for creating their own flies to
match these crustaceans as well.

Winter Flounder Fishing:

Finally, the winter flounder fishing remains very good, according to Lee
Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth. When I was a
kid, along with seaworms, we also used to fish clam necks for flatties,
but Lee said that as opposed to necks, folks use sea clams that he and
other shops sell. If you’re really a hard core flounder angler, you just
might dig up some mussels to help supplement your supply of worms,
especially with the cost of wigglers always on the increase.

Outer Cape Fishing Report

I spoke to Fran Keough at North Chatham Outfitters and
he advised that with water temperatures on the backside and onto the
shoals between 48 and 49 degrees, it’s going to be a while until the
bass settle into open water. At the moment, people are concentrating
on spots like Pleasant Bay, where the water is warmer and there is
abundant forage. Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that
backwater fish out that way are mainly holdovers, but Fran noted that
there are plenty of fresh fish around and the action has been pretty
good – at least when the weather is good enough to convince people to
go fishing.
I did ask Fran about shoreline access around Pleasant Bay and he said
that you can get to the water around any of the public landings and as
long as you are in the water and actively fishing, you have the legal
right to be there.

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Tip:

Back in the day, Salt Water Sportsman would have articles
about fishing for winter flounder and I recall one article from, I believe,
Jack Fallon who emphasized the effectiveness of using a chum pot.
Even tackle makers such as Cap’n Bill’s, who were known for their
plugs, used to sell custom chum pots. I haven’t heard anyone mention
chumming for flounder in years, but even if you don’t want to deal with
trying to find a pot and then procuring a chum source such as shellfish,
if you do dig your own bait or have a friend who gives you clams or
mussels in the whole, when you break them up to get hook baits, don’t
forget to send the softer, disposable parts overboard to create a chum

Cape Cod Bay Conservation News:

Even though today’s fisherman does a good job of
keeping abreast of news concerning management of gamefish such as
striped bass, bluefish, and tuna, the reality is that protecting what these
prized species eat just might be as or even more important. The stocks
of Atlantic mackerel are in peril and so far, from what I have read, the
new recovery plan that was instituted hasn’t produced the results that
managers would like and the word is that even finding frozen mackerel
from commercial operations has become a challenge.



Filmed recently in Cape Cod Bay

Hogy Jig Biki and Sandeel jigs getting it done!

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Report

Not much to report from this area as the gale that we
experienced from last weekend through midweek kept sane folks at the
dock or on the trailer. Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore
told that a sailboat that ventured out the east end last weekend in an
attempt to reach Boston ended up grounded off of Scusset Beach and
the folks on board had to swim to shore. It always amazes me how
many people have no idea what the sea state and wind conditions are
while planning a trip. The sea is a cruel mistress and does not allow for
mistakes, so if you are in doubt, skip the trip and reschedule for
another day.

Matt Cardarelli at Riverview Bait and Tackle in South Yarmouth said the winter flounder bite was very good before the storm and he suspects it will pick right back up this weekend.

As far as stripers go, there hasn’t been much discussed about them; on
the other hand, Bruce and his son Jeff told me that they have been
attempting to pick up frozen mackerel for the shop with very little
success, an indication that the commercial boats are struggling to find
them.. Bruce added that nobody has encountered mackerel in the bay,
no a good sign since at this time of year they typically would have
moved inshore and rounded Provincetown into the bay. Mackerel spark
a big fishery around Barnstable Harbor this month, so if they don’t
show in numbers sufficient to keep liveliners happy, it will be
interesting to see how and what artificials prove to be effective

Cape Cod Bay Fishing Tips:

Since mackerel drive a great deal of the action in the Canal,
where bass move in from the bay in pursuit of mackerel and then make
their way back out, it might be worth considering some of the
lures/plugs that Canal anglers use during these events. That said, I can’t
recall seeing bass pushing mackerel around Barnstable like they do in
the Big Ditch, so subsurface options such as skinnier profile soft
plastics, especially paddletails or subsurface plugs such as the Hogy

Cape Cod Bay Conservation News:

I spoke with Capt. Mike this week and he surprised
to hear the mackerel situation is in dire condition since he has had no
problem in the past finding mackerel on his offshore trips. A 2021
management track stock assessment conducted by the Mid-Atlantic
Marine Fisheries Council has resulted in adjustments to the
management plan, including a November 3, 2021 letter to the states of
Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts that they cut their
recreational catch in half. Hearings were held in January to discuss the
changes in the plan and gather public comment, but from what I
gather, no changes in limits have occurred – yet.



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