Elizabeth Islands Fishing Report – July 11, 2019

July 11, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

It’s a mixed bag along the islands, but if big bass are your goal, you’re going to have to work hard.

I was especially pleased on Monday to see so much life down the islands, starting at Robinson’s where there were schoolies working bait and following the dropping tide out into Buzzards Bay. They were clearly on very small, juvenile baitfish – and by small, I mean a quarter of an inch at most. We managed some reaction strikes on topwater plugs and were most successful with small Hogy Heavy Metal Jigs.

Linda Fazio caught this beauty while jigging wire.

As the current slacked, it was off to Cuttyhunk where we were greeted by a scene both exciting and terrifying – large schools of fish feeding on krill. While we ultimately managed to break the code by turning to tiny Crazy Charley’s; I always carry boxes of bonefish and permit flies, but don’t ask me why – although in this case it paid off, so I suppose that’s why. The Heavy Metal Jig accounted for monster scup, big sea bass, and one large tautog. The sea bass proved what I have been hearing, that they have moved into deeper water south of the Vineyard and the islands.

The next morning found us fishing in Woods Hole where there were bass all over small, juvenile squid, which made white, bunny squid flies very effective, as well as white and bone topwater plugs.

There are also larger numbers of small bluefish around.

According to Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth, a few larger bass are being jigged up in the Hole as well as Quick’s, but I sold eels on Sunday to a couple of recremercials who typically fish pogies, so the fishing can’t be that good since it’s hard to imagine that if there were large numbers around that they wouldn’t eat menhaden.

Tube-and-worm fishing along the islands should be getting into full swing; the Hogy Perfect Tube has proven to be a dynamite summer offering, whether fished on lead core or wire. Nothing is more relaxing that following the contour lines on both sides of our local archipelago, but make sure you have plenty of seaworms; from what I saw this week, there are massive numbers of scup, which are proven worm thieves.


July 3, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Although some folks, like me, avoid trolling, especially wire line jigging, it’s tough to argue with the results when the fish are holding deep in the water column and current.

Word is that there are good numbers of small bass on both sides of the islands, but the days of having multiple 20 and 30-pound pursuing a live eel right in the daytime are over.

At the moment, jigging wire is the most consistent producer of sizeable bass; Phil Stanton told me that on Monday and today, they had no luck tossing eels, but did catch some really nice fish jigging wire.

I have little doubt that the few big fish around our local archipelago are now far more selective and much more inclined to hold in deeper water when the sun is high.

Even folks fishing whole or chunk pogies have struggled for the most part, both in Woods Hole and down as far as Cuttyhunk.

As they say, you can’t catch what isn’t there.

Fortunately, more bluefish are showing up and when mixed in with schoolies, you can have a fun day with small plugs and plastics.

Take advanatage of any rainy, gray days that you can in July and August since they will often produce the best fishing of the high summer season. Otherwise, get on the water well before first light and spend the time to determine the connection between tide, current, and water temperature. Even a degree or two drop can make the difference between catching fish as opposed to catching the skunk.


June 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

A live eel produced this impressive striper for Dede Chase who fished the islands with Phil Stanton this week.

Dede Chase with a fine Elizabeth Island’s striper.

After a couple of lackluster weeks of reports from the islands, including one from Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth about one of the most experienced island captains who has struck out on all three of his trips to Quick’s this year, it was great to receive positive news from Phil Stanton.

He fished the Elizabeths midweek with Dede and Garrett Chase and they did well tossing live eels, which was a significant improvement from the report I got from Charlie Richmond who made his annual pilgrimage to Cuttyhunk last weekend: “ We fished Cuttyhunk last Saturday early AM and just got the same small bass we’ve found everywhere averaging 22-26-inches.”

Jim did know of a couple of 30-pound bass caught in Woods Hole by the same angler who uses live scup, but other than a few other decent bass for folks jigging wire, this area that typically is a go to for me has been disappointing.Besides scup, drifting live eels is another technique that works well in the Hole. There are what I call “soft spots” where the current is slowed by obstructions, as well as numerous humps and holes, where eels are effective. A change of tide at dusk and working the rock piles at night will become even more of a solid choice as summer kicks into gear.


June 20, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5

Live bait fishing and jigging wire produced some larger fish around the islands this week, perhaps a sign that resident fish have moved in.

I know I heard a sigh of relief from Phil Stanton who was getting a little down since it had become difficult to catch bass of any size in Woods Hole. This week, however, he jigged up a few 20+-pound fish, while Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth told me that a 30-pound class bass was caught on a live scup on Tuesday, although someone else said it was caught on an eel.

 

Speak to Capt. Willy Hatch of Machaca Charters, who sails from Falmouth Harbor, and he shared some news about OK fishing with eels in Woods Hole and along the islands, but he also said it has been a pick.

I have my fingers crossed that a hatch of baby squid will show up soon since this often produces some of the best fly fishing and light tackle action of the season. While white bunny flies, small EP squids, and small squid flies, created out of hackle tips, rams wool, and Farrar Blend or Flashabou, then coated with either silicone or the flexible formula of one of the UV product companies, all work well, but tossing poppers on the long wand that my friend Bob Lewis is good enough to share with me works wonders and is a blast.

For my light tackle crew, I go with the mini Hogy Skinny in bone/white on a very light weighted swimbait hook or 1/8-ounce Hogy Barbarian or Classic Jighead for subsurface presentations, while plugs such as the Hogy Dog Walker in bone work well.

 

 

I honestly don’t think it’s possible to make a completely accurate assessment of our local archipelago because far more people are concentrating their efforts on the shoals in Nantucket Sound right now. With commercial bass season scheduled to start this Monday, it might be possible to assess what is going on since the few folks who still bother with the islands use live eels or pogies, two of the best ways of catching sizeable bass anywhere.


June 14, 2019 Weekly Rating: 2 out of 5

Even though many folks are still employing wire line and jigs in search of larger fish around the islands, eel season is upon us.

No matter what the general consensus is, the Elizabeths always hold some quality fish. Right now, the trick is both finding them and getting them to eat.

Despite the finicky feeding patterns, this legal striper was taken off the Islands this week.

Woods Hole apparently went quiet this week, without even the usual abundance of schoolies feeding around the ledges. Phil Stanton commented on the lack of squid of any size right now, which is obviously connected with the overall lack of fish.

At this time of year, many folk stick to Naushon or other spots close to the Hole and can pick a fish or two, as Bill Hough did last weekend. Nobody has spoken of schools of fish, so persistence is valuable right now.

Rick Dunn told me that last weekend he went down to Cuttyhunk, but despite marking a large amount of bait, there were no bass or blues to be found.

Understanding tides and water temperature just might be even more important right now as Phil told me that he fished Quick’s last weekend and the water was only 56 degrees. That number is within a striper’s comfort zone, but it can also cause them to be sluggish and less willing to eat at times.


June 6, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5 (depending on who you talk to!)

Woods Hole has been a great spot to try your hand at casting plugs or flies this season.

I hate to waffle on the rating, but let me explain.

I have been enjoying some good fishing in Woods Hole, but on Monday I decided to try some plugging along Naushon with master wooden plug maker Mike DiSanto of Mike’s Custom Plugs. Other than a single OK bass in the Hole on a black/purple metal lip, the rest of the trip was fishless. We went all the way to Robinson’s and all we had was a few half-hearted follows from smaller bass.

On the other hand, Phil Stanton, who by virtue of having his boat on a dock in Eel Pond and the number of friends he has who want to go fishing spends more time than pretty much anyone else I know on the waters from the Hole to Cuttyhunk, said this season has been a 5 when it comes to plugging. He uses two lures, a leadhead/soft plastic combination and a plastic narrow, Finnish style minnow swimmer in what he calls a “clown” color. Most manufacturers refer to this pattern as Wonderbread, mother-of-pearl, or rainbow, but no matter what it is called, it is generally a white or pearl plug with splotches/patches of light pink, yellow, and blue. Phil emphasized that he has had people on his boat try fly fishing and throwing their own plugs without success, but changing to his two favorites has resulted in fish in the boat. His best fish this week has been around 15-pounds, but one of his guests, Matt Connolly, managed a bass in the 25-pound class last week.

Phil hasn’t even tried wire line jigging yet, but he plans on giving it a whirl this weekend down around Quick’s. In the meantime, Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth knows that a friend of his has managed some fish in the 25-pound class; Jim surmises that his buddy was using white jigs since there are squid around, but red and white is another good combination.

George Williams, renowned around Woods Hole for his plywood skiffs, continues to use umbrella rigs on mono to pick at larger bass outside the main channel, where most of the wire line jiggers focus, while the folks drifting live scup haven’t done much according to Phil.

Woods Hole is a spot where current direction and stage are absolutely critical to success. If you want to learn it (and many folks don’t want to because of the ledges that can get you in trouble quickly), there is no substitute for time spent there. Which direction you cast from is another variable that makes the equation more challenging, although solving her “mysteries” and patterns is very rewarding.


May 30, 2019 Weekly Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Other than Woods Hole, I have received only report from a friend who fished Robinson’s and found nothing of interest.

The Hole has had good numbers of bass pushing squid at times, with the west tide, slack, and then the beginning of the east flow definitely fishing best.

On Wednesday, there were lots of terns picking at bait on Red Ledge and there were signs of small bass working under them.

Plug fishing has been good, but day in and day out, you can’t outfish bone colored Hogy’s and white plugs, although Hogy makes a translucent amber color that works well. The Squid Plug has also proven its worth in all of the traditional plugging locations.

I’ve seen a few boats snapping wire in the Hole, but I honestly haven’t seen nor heard any tales of success. On the other hand, livelining scup has been OK.

Last weekend I was fishing Woods Hole and couldn’t help feeling bad for another angler who had bass breaking all around the boat, but couldn’t hook a single one. It was clear that squid was what the stripers were chasing, but he was tossing a shiny metal jig. This scenario reminded me that taking the time to recognize what the fish are feeding on and then doing your best to replicate it in terms of color and action, first, followed by size and profile, is pertinent to increasing your hook up ratio.


May 24, 2019 Weekly Report:

When you keep your boat in Eel Pond, you definitely have an advantage over other folks when it comes to fishing the islands, especially with the kind of wind we have been having recently. You can stay in Woods Hole or even scoot down one side of the Elizabeths or the other, staying in the lee.

Phil Stanton makes good use of his dockage and he told me that there really haven’t been any boats out fishing, which is too bad because he has been enjoying great top water activity on bass up to the mid-teen (pounds) class casting jigs and plugs. There is a lot of squid around and the flocks of gulls have been happily feeding on hapless calamari that try to avoid a hungry fish by taking to the air, only to be snatched up by the beak of an avian pursuer.

Anglers who fish in upper Buzzards Bay spots would do well to keep an ear out for any news of what is happening at this time of year in Woods Hole and the Elizabeths since a push of fish there might just result in them showing up around Bourne and Wareham in a matter of days, or even tides, based on the amount of bait they find around the islands. We are in the middle of the full-blown spring arrival and what were 20-inch schoolies one day can seem to magically morph into more sizeable bass quite quickly.


May 17, 2019 Weekly Report:

I wish I could give you more of a report, but one angler I know who fishes there a great deal told me he has been concentrating on lobstering (?), while Capt. Mike Hogan reported that there were small bass on top as he passed through Woods Hole on his recent tautog trip.

John Waring from Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth said he heard from Phil Stanton that they had no success wire line jigging in the Hole, but they did have some fun catching smaller fish on plugs and soft plastics. Phil called me and said that he wasn’t marking any larger fish and the water was filled with mung.

The water temperature reading in the Hole this week was at 52.5-degrees on a west tide and that means conditions are right where they should be for some larger bass to appear.

Jim Young added that there have been some squid jigged up off the commercial dock in the Hole and some tautog have also been caught.

Although Woods Hole and the Elizabeths are known for their rips, currents, and ledges, some of the best early season fishing occurs in quieter waters such as coves, flats, and spots where back eddies form. These typically have water that is a bit warmer and early concentrations of bait.

My go to plan for these spots is tossing an unweighted bone or bubblegum 10-inch Original Hogy, allowing it to move with any current in the water and using a slower retrieve, followed by a fast snap-and-retrieve approach, looking for a reaction strike.