As I have witnessed myself, live eels have definitely been the way to go if you want to increase your odds of catching a sizeable bass around the islands. Phil Stanton sent me photos of three bass between 16 and 30-pounds that 11-year-old Matty Bruffee caught tossing snakes thereabouts during the day earlier this week.
It’s interesting to note that one of the recremercial crew who continue to fish the Elizabeths with eels was complaining about all of the 30 to 33-inch bass he has been catching at night, with anything above the 34-inch commercial limit tough to come by.
Clearly, tide has been more important than time of time at the moment, at least when it comes to big fish, with Phil often not even leaving the dock before noon and that recremercial telling me he has only managed about two dozen fish to sell all season.
Some of the charterboats out of Falmouth Harbor have been managing to get their customers their limits either drifting eels or scup in Woods Hole or Quick’s. Jigging wire has also been working, although I did wait on Capt. Bruce Cranshaw at Eastman’s and he was picking up a couple of tubes, both red and orange. The low and slow technique works quite well during the dog days of August, especially when employed in low light conditions. In the brightness of full daylight, moving out to the edges and dropoffs, as well as the rips that form up and down the chain, is effective.
If you don’t care about the size of the fish you are catching, then the waters from Woods Hole to Cuttyhunk will be heaven for you. There are schools of small bass marked by flocks of terns pretty much everywhere you look, with their numbers and often the intensity of their feeding increasing as you move west. We have also found bass feeding on krill, making for moments of sheer frustration.
When it comes to what flies to use when the bass are actively feeding, almost any baitfish pattern will work, but Gerry Fine and Kirk Klingensmith kept it basic with chartreuse/white and olive/white Clousers along the islands and in Woods Hole, with a change to white bunny squids when the bass were feeding on baby squid in the Hole.
If the fly folks are doing well and spin anglers aren’t on my boat, we simply switch over to a metal or tired Epoxy Jig with no hooks and add a shot of fluorocarbon material leading to a fly that matches what is working.
Early mornings continue to be the best time to toss plugs, with fog and other low light conditions adding to the time when they are effective.