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.
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.