Martha’s Vineyard Updated Fishing Report

August 15, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5

To be honest, the only reason I am giving the Vineyard this score is because of the bonito fishing, as bass fishing is slow and even the bluefish bite has quieted down a bit.

Doug Asselin from Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs said there are plenty of bonito around from Cape Poge to Vineyard Haven and along the north shore, especially around Tashmoo. Early on, they were feeding heavily on silversides, but some concentrations of peanut bunker are also in the mix at the moment.

As a shorebound angler, Doug said the antics of many boaters just might be worse than usual, with one charterboat captain who launches out of Falmouth coming right up on the sand at State Beach where Doug was standing, while his anglers looked the Keystone Kops with everyone casting everywhere. Most of the bonito on this side of the island have been around two to three-pounds, so it’s hard to imagine what motivates someone to act so unprofessionally.

Things got so bad for Doug that he was fishing from a jetty in Vineyard Haven and was hooked up to a fish when a boat jumped into the fray and cut off his line. At that point, Doug departed the scene.

Green Epoxy Jigs have been catching as usual, but olive and pink have also been best at times. The best news for folks who have never caught a bone is that these smaller fish are much more aggressive and willing to hit anything that has the right profile and size.

The word from Julian Pepper at Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown is that there are some bass being caught by boaters chunking from Squibnocket to Gay Head, while topwater plugs at first light and needlefish, darters, and Danny plugs at night have accounted for bass in the 20-pound class around the rocky structure in this stretch of the southside.

Out on Chappy, there are some bonito being caught along East Beach and in the rips around Wasque, but the daytime bluefishing has slowed, with dusk definitely producing the most fish, especially on metal jigs.

There’s not much word on bass action along the north shore, with some schoolies around Lambert’s Cove and down Menemsha way.

If you are fishing from a boat, remember that you have the whole ocean to fish in, so give the shore anglers a break and stay well outside their casting range. I can tell you from personal experience, if you make the mistake of crowding the shore crew around Montauk, you are in for a bombardment of bucktail jigs and even plugs. I guess it’s a good thing that the Vineyard shore anglers are more “civilized,” but I have never begrudged the Montauk crew a bit of gel coat as a trophy.

August 8, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5

Now that bonito are being caught in great numbers by shore and boat casters around the island, there are a lot more happy faces among the angling community.

Matt Malowski at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs said that bones are being caught, along with some bass and bluefish, out on Chappy, from East Beach down to Wasque. The Hogy Epoxy Jig has caught on in a big way on the island as a funny fish favorite, just as it has pretty much everywhere else in New England where folks target bones, albies, and Spanish mackerel.

Matt said that Doug Asselin, another of Dick’s helpful crew, has caught a number of bones casting from the Oak Bluffs fishing pier and shore anglers are catching them along State Beach as well.

Incoming water has definitely produced the best fishing, Matt emphasized, so time of day hasn’t been as important as the tide pattern.

Tashmoo and Middle Ground are two other spots where the bonito activity has been steady, with some fish reported around Menemsha and out in Vineyard Sound, although there is a good chance that what some folks are calling bonito are in fact small bluefish.

Beach fishing for larger bass remains best up island, with eels and plugs, especially needlefish and darters at night and pencil poppers in the early morning and at dusk, the way to go around Squibnocket.

Abbie Schuster, who is an avid fly fisherman on Martha’s Vineyard, with her first catch and release Bonito of the season.

The word from one of the mates who works for Patriot Party Boats out of Falmouth is that one of their boats fishing for sea bass around Gay Head marked a school of bass and called in some local charterboats, who began to double up on 40-inch class bass while jigging wire and parachutes. That may have been a one-time occurrence, but just the fact that some larger fish are around is encouraging.

John Carney from Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown said that some Vineyard boat anglers have been picking at some better bass down the Elizabeths at night using live eels or pogies.

The fluke fishing hasn’t been anything to write home about, with most of the action in deeper water off the north shore, while the best black sea bass fishing has been between Gay Head and Noman’s.

If you decide to try fishing needlefish, don’t be put off by their appearance and lack of built in action. Fished slowly with only an occasional twitch or movement of the rod tip, they have been catching big bass everywhere from the Vineyard to the outer Cape to Block Island and Montauk ever since the first Boone model was introduced to the northeast.

August 1, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Taylor Trudel at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs told me that people are catching more blues than bass, with schoolies in the ponds and estuaries and a few sizable fish coming from around Squibnocket at night on plugs and eels about all there is to say about shore fishing.

Even the boat crew is having a tough time finding bass that even meet the 28-inch recreational minimum. Middle Ground, Hedge Fence, Hawses, and Wasque have some schoolies, especially in the early morning and again at dusk; they are feeding mainly on sand eels and other small baitfish and they will take plugs such as the Hogy Dog Walker or Slider in the morning, with a variety of jigs and lead head/soft plastic combinations a better choice if you have no choice but to fish when the sun is well up in the sky.

Wasque is still a good bet for bigger bluefish from shore; Taylor said that most are between six and eight-pounds, but a 12-pounder was caught there on a metal lure.

A 15-pound boat bluefish created a stir and odds are that it came on a live pogy or a fresh chunk fished in the waters of Vineyard Sound, perhaps the Aquinnah area.

Fluke fishing is slow when it comes to groundfish, with some folks telling Taylor that they caught some in the deep water off of Lucas Shoal and along the north shore of the island.

The Hooter is producing a mix of bonito and bluefish, especially on the troll, with Evan Eastman emphasizing that pink was the hot color last Sunday.

There is no lack of small bait around the island, including two that are favorites of bonito: sand eels and silversides. Many people associate MV bones with rapid fire, hit-and-run activity around Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven, as well as down Menemsha way, but they are also found in the rips in Vineyard Sound and the shoals between MV and Nantucket.

July 25, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The striper fishing around the island is pretty much the same, explained Taylor Trudel at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs.

It is possible to catch small bass around inlets such as Big Bridge, Lagoon Pond, Tashmoo, and the Menemsha channel, as well as Lobsterville, but larger fish require putting in substantial amounts of time at night around Squibnocket, Aquinnah, and along the north shore. Some folks are turning to live eels, but the hardcores are definitely tossing plugs such as needlefish, darters, and surface swimming plugs such as Danny’s.

Bluefish are being caught in increasing numbers down and Melissa Sliwkowski recommended emphasizing that fishery right now. Larger blues in the 8 to 10-pound class are being caught on Chappy and around Wasque, with a 13-pounder checked in last week. Metal lures are preferred by Vineyard sand people in these areas as opposed to topwater plugs.

Most of the shoals around the island have small bluefish in them, while Wasque, the Hooter, and Squibnocket have some bonito and another shore caught bone was taken from one of the jetties.

A good portion of the commercial black sea bass fleet is fishing out at Noman’s; typically, jigs and teasers are preferred when targeting larger fish that bring more money. When bottom fishing, braid is definitely preferred for its sensitivity and thin diameter.

July 18, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Strong currents and deep water along the north shore of the island are known for producing big fluke.

The word from Steve Morris at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs is that the fishing is OK, with mainly bluefish around Chappy and the occasional bass for shore anglers. The salt ponds still have enough schoolies to keep fly and light tackle anglers happy, as well as tourist anglers who are simply looking to get a bend in their rod.  Wasque, Hawses, and Squibnocket have a mix of bass and blues, but the fishing has not been consistent from one tide to the next. Fluke fishing is comprised of mostly small fish inshore, while black sea bass fishing is best in the deeper water between Aquinnah and Noman’s.

The cool thing about shore fishing around the Vineyard is the difference in the lures they use in comparison to the Cape. For example, Julian Pepper from Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown said that beach anglers are picking up bluefish at Wasque on metal lures, while along the southside beaches it’s all about surface plugs when the blues show in the spring. In fact, Julian said that a local angler is producing a new tin lure that is really hot at the moment. Most of the bluefish are in the six to eight-pound range, with some larger ones in the mix.

Some stripers have also been caught in the rip at Wasque, but the greatest number of larger fish in the 20-pound class are coming up island. Again, when I questioned whether they were being caught on bait such as live eels, Julian said that plugs like needlefish, darters, and Danny plugs have been most effective at night.

Lobsterville is holding schoolies for the fly rod crew and Julian said there is always something going on in the channel at Menemsha, but he also acknowledged that it’s not like there is any kind of big bite going on.

There have been no other reports of bonito at the Hooter, but there is plenty of bait there along with schools of bluefish.

A number of shore anglers are also targeting brown sharks on Chappy, with one night hot and the next not so much. Given that bluefish are an excellent bait for them, odds are that what is going on with those choppers will determine what takes place with the even bigger choppers.

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Janet Messineo’s new book, Casting Into The Light: Tales of a Fishing Life. Janet is a talented, hardcore surf angler whose enthusiasm for the beach fishing is limitless. Plus, she’s just a really nice person and you’ll learn plenty about what it takes to be successful in the art of surfcasting.

July 11, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5

Anyone catching larger bass around the island, whether from boat or shore, is working extra hard right now. The bluefish action on the island continues to improve, but the bass fishing is becoming a pick of smaller fish at best. Boaters are picking at some larger bass in the holes and around the humps. Wasque is holding some larger bluefish among the main body of smaller ones. Fluke fishing is OK in Vineyard Sound and the bonito have made an early appearance south of the island this year.

The word from Taylor Trudel at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs is that the bluefish action on the island continues to improve, but the bass fishing, especially around Middle Ground and Hedge Fence, is becoming a pick of smaller fish at best. Warmer water in the sounds makes it even more important to concentrate on those tides that bring in cooler conditions.

It’s typical at this time of year for squid to depart the inshore shoals, with the fish feeding more on sand eels, silversides, and even some juvenile sea herring.

Capt. Mike Hogan fished Wasque and the Hooter yesterday, hoping to scare up some bass and bluefish at the former and perhaps a bonito or two at the latter. Arriving during the falling tide, both spots were essentially void of visible life and even trolling Charter Grade Sliders didn’t produce anything.

After a run to look for tuna or other life south of the island, Mike and crew ran back through the Hooter, which had come alive with bluefish on the incoming tide. Some boats were working one of the Wasque rips and Mike noticed that a few were hooked up, most likely with bass or bluefish.

Taylor said that Wasque continues to produce bluefish from shore, with an occasional bass mixed. Metal jigs are commonly used in this area, along with long distance casting plugs that will reach where the fish are holding.

Some blues are also being caught along East Beach and State Beach, with the Big Bridge area a good bet for finding stripers, albeit mostly school sized fish. As July progresses into August, it will become even more important to fish from dusk to dawn in the salt ponds and harbors all around the island. Unweighted soft plastics and plugs that produce fish attracting wakes, such as needlefish and slowly retrieved spooks, are effective offerings.

If any larger bass are being caught from shore, Taylor advised that they most likely came from Squibnocket to Aquinnah and then up the north shore of the island. The rocky structure in this area is ideal for needlefish, Danny plugs, and live eels.

Boaters are picking at some larger bass in the holes and around the humps and rocky structure in Vineyard Sound, Taylor added, with livelining scup or eels the way to go.

Last weekend’s Fluke for Luke event went well, with some fish up to eight-pounds weighed in; according to Taylor, the waters between Aquinnah and Noman’s are likely bets at to where these big fish came from.

Sea bass are also continuing to move into deeper water in this area, while Wasque has also seen some impressive sea bass surface feeding activity, especially around slack tide. Fluke fishing is also picking up there as well.

Sam Bell was manning the phone at Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown and said the fishing around the island has been steady; like many other hardcore surf anglers on the Vineyard, he has been fishing larger soft plastics at night, with black the most productive color, but some folks are fishing eels and plugs around rocky structure.

Wasque is holding some larger bluefish among the main body of smaller ones, with the latter drawing in some sharks off the beaches on Chappy.

Fluke fishing is OK in Vineyard Sound and the bonito have made an early appearance south of the island this year, but there have been no reports from Edgartown to Vineyard Haven and around the corner off Tashmoo, as well as down Menemsha way.

Mike Hogan and I had the chance to talk after his trip on Wednesday and I noted how the change in current direction turned things from a ghost town to birds and actively working fish. Based on how much time I have to fish, I typically try to arrive at an area with a couple of hours left of one tide and stick around through slack and fish the turn for a couple of hours. By fishing both sides of slack, I hedge my bets that changing conditions such as water temperature, speed of the current, and even bait availability will increase my odds of finding action.

June 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Topwater action in the shoals on the backside of the Vineyard remains very good.

Matt Malowski at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs reported that some larger bass in the mid-teens have been coming from the Menemsha area, including a 20-pounder caught on a live scup in the channel.

I saw a Vineyard charterboat drifting live scup at Middle Ground, but after catching a couple of small fish, they took off in the direction of Halfway Shoal, which apparently has been holding some larger bass.

There are plenty of small bass in the ponds and harbors keeping the fly and light tackle crew happy.

Sea bass fishing off Oak Bluffs and along the north shore remains very good, but fluke fishing from Cedar Tree Neck to the Brickyard and over to Lucas Shoals has yet to pick up. In fact, Julian Pepper at Larry’s Tackle in Edgartown said that most folks are heading over towards Nantucket if they are looking for sizeable summer flatties.

He added that the bluefishing has been pretty good around Wasque, with the occasional double-digit mixed in with the main body of 6 to 8-pound fish. There are also some schoolies mixed in, with an occasional 30+-inch striper.

Along the northside beaches, there are some 20-pound fish being caught on a more regular basis, with large soft plastics and needlefish top nighttime offerings, while Littleneck poppers are a good option just before and at dusk.

For boaters, beside Middle Ground and Hedge Fence, the Wasque shoals are still holding large numbers of chunky bass in the 24 to 26-inch range, with enough larger fish around to make it worth the run. Soft plastics and topwater plugs are both working well, while squid flies in a variety of colors are the way to go for the fly rod crew.

Julian also mentioned the totally random bonito catches, with a friend of his next to the angler who caught his at Chappy, so he knows it happened.

The Vineyard has some of the best fly rod shore fishing around, especially when it comes to quiet water like salt ponds, as well as open, protected beaches such as Lobsterville. Floating lines and deer hair sliders, as well as Gurglers, are a great combination for this type of fishing.

June 20, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5

The Vineyard is surrounded by bait of various types, but smaller bass dominate the scene at the moment.

Doug Asselin at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs has been talking about the solid fishing at Wasque for a while and my three trips there this week, as well as the experience of my buddy, Bob Lewis, only confirmed how good it is.

Bob fished there with noted flyrodder who perhaps has the best job in the world – traveling all over the world to fish, then writing about it and creating outstanding artwork from his observations and the numerous photos he takes.

There were into bass up to the mid-30-inch class on poppers for five hours straight, with doubleheaders the norm, as opposed to the exception.

I had the full Wasque experience in terms of the changing character of these rips.

Capt. Dave Peros had a special day with Jeff Currier (pictured) this week, doubling up for five hours straight at Wasque.

On Monday, I fished with Paul Valint and his grandson, Luke, and the rips were raging, with legitimate four to six-footers pounding over the shoals. It was not easy fishing in a small boat, but Luke did well with a red/white pencil popper and Paul managed to stay upright long enough to catch a few fish on his own squid flies.

Wednesday, the scene was totally different with Davis Yetman; yes, we were at a different stage of the tide, but the rips were much quieter and every cast was greeted with bass slapping the plug all over the place. I played around with the plug, taking two identical ones and removing the tail hook on one and the belly hook on the other. The results were eye opening; the plug with the tail hook not only resulted in fewer hook ups, but far more fish were hooked deep. On the other hand, not a single fish was hooked in the gills or even inside the mouth using the belly hook adorned pencil. I suspect that a bass still inhales the plug quite often in the latter scenario, but the body may do deep, but the hook catches on the corner of the mouth.

In any case, Doug said boaters are having to work for bigger fish, with those livelining scup or eels around the north shore of the island and in the holes and rock formations that characterize Vineyard Sound catching more 20-pound bass than those fishing the shoals such as Wasque, Middle Ground, and Hedge Fence.

I did receive a disturbing report from a charter captain who has witnessed a number of Vineyard boats illegally yo-yoing pogies around West Chop and compounding their misdeeds by keeping more fish than they are allowed. Frankly, I am tired of arguing about poaching and the like, but I agree with Doug that if I, or any other angler, don’t report illegal activity, then we have nobody else to blame.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police Dispatch number can be reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-632-8075. It’s important to understand that unless an EPO happens to be on the scene, nothing might happen immediately, but if enough reports come in regarding illegal activity, we have to hope that some action will be taken.

For shore anglers, the Vineyard is a schoolie fest, with large numbers of 16 to mid-20-inch bass inside the ponds and harbors, as well as along the beaches. Folks are catching them along the southside on plugs and bait; on plastics and flies around Lobsterville; and in the waters near Tashmoo, to name just a few areas where Doug and others caught fish this week.

Chappy has had the most bluefish action, although schools have been reporting racing about the northside from Menemsha to West Chop, as well as the shoals up and down Vineyard Sound.

The sea bass action is still strong around Squash Meadow and the northside from Cedar Tree Neck to the Brickyard, but the fluke bite has yet to take off, with some smaller fish caught at the west end of Middle Ground and on Lucas Shoals.

Although squid drive much of the early action in shoals such as Middle Ground, Hedge Fence, and others, there is a definite shift over to baitfish such as sand eels as June goes on. In years past, I have found the Hogy Skinny Series rigged on jigheads effective in fooling fish feeding on sand eels, along with the versatile Epoxy Jig, which is clearly a more durable option if bluefish are also in the mix. Not only can Epoxies be cast, but you can also vertical jig them for stripers and sea bass or bounce them in the sand to target fluke.

June 14, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I can only take off a half point from my rating of the Vineyard because of the lack of larger bass from the shore. Julian Pepper at Larry’s Tackle Shop in Edgartown knows of a 38-pound beach fish, but that was a rogue as most of the stripers caught from shore have been schoolies up to 30-inches.

Bluefish have picked up off the beaches, especially from shore along Chappy and Wasque. The larger body of fish are six to eight-pounds, but there have been some 12-pounders caught and Julian said a 15-pound chopper was also caught.

Two bluefish taken on the fly by a shore angler on Martha’s Vineyard.

The rips are filled with bass, from Middle Ground to Wasque, with the latter holding some larger fish pushing squid. Out in Vineyard Sound, guys fishing bait, including pogies, eels, and scup, have managed some 20-pound fish, while guys snapping wire have only managed an occasional good one.

Some fluke have been caught on the shoals from Chappy to Wasque, as well as along the northside, while along with a recent push of smaller fish, there are enough larger sea bass to make for a good catch around the wrecks off Oak Bluffs as well as along Cedar Tree Neck and other northside spots.

Steve Morris at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs confirmed that there are plenty of small bass around the island, with the occasional larger one caught anywhere from the shoals to the north shore. Bluefish are being caught, but there has been no rhyme or reason as to where they show up from day-to-day; it could be Middle Ground one day and they off Chappy the next. They aren’t huge, with the larger ones running between six and ten pounds. The sea bass bite is very strong, and although Steve hasn’t seen any catches officially, folks are talking about fluke.

I am going to include this tip in the Vineyard report because it came from my friend Bob Lewis, who was fishing off Wasque at the time. Bob finds it very productive when rip fishing to run a shell squid from a rod kept in the rocket launcher. Unfortunately, when they decided to make the run for home, everybody forgot about the rod up there, and since the captain of the boat Bob was on likes to run at a nice clip, it didn’t take long for the reel to be spooled. Of course, it could have been worse as the reel was a Shimano Stella and the rod of equivalent price.

June 6, 2019 Weekly Rating: 5 out of 5

They might not all be huge, but the Vineyard is absolutely humming with stripers, with 50 to 60 fish days not uncommon at all.

It was really cool to hear how jazzed Doug Asselin was about the fishing on the island when I called Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs. Doug made it clear that you could visit any shoal around the island, including Middle Ground, Hedge Fence, Wasque and others and you will catch bass. Technique doesn’t matter; some folks are tossing soft plastics and plugs, others are trolling deep diving Yo-zuri’s, and some are even drifting scup or live eels, as well as chunks of squid. And who can forget the tradition of jigging wire?

Shorebound anglers are enjoying the shoals of bass as well, from all of the salt ponds to the southside beaches, where Doug caught a number of bass in the middle of the day on cut squid. Flyrodders are enjoying a banner early season down Menemsha/Lobsterville way, but it seems like you would be hard pressed to name a locale where light tackle and long wanders aren’t having a ball.

A few more bluefish were reported this week down around Chappy and off of State Beach, but generally the choppers have yet to make a full invasion of their typical island haunts.

You will have no problem catching sea bass around the wrecks off Oak Bluffs and the waters between Hedge Fence and L’Hommedieu, but the average size is starting to wane a bit with the spawn winding down and the largest fish moving back into deeper water.

Beautiful weather, little wind, and lots of bass mean that the named shoals, especially Middle Ground, will be crammed with boats. Get there early if you must fish there, but be prepared to leave when things get crazy and consider a cruise down Vineyard Sound where there are plenty of smaller shoals that hold their share of bass.

May 30, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Last weekend’s tournament put on by Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs had no striped bass weigh-ins, with the only entries a couple of boat bluefish, the largest just over four pounds. Doug Asselin said folks are catching plenty of bass, but they are all 18 to 24-inches; he hit six spots recently and caught schoolies at each one, but he said he didn’t even have to take out a tape measure because he knew everything was sublegal. The flyrodders and light tackle anglers are happy, but most everyone else is waiting for something larger to tug on the line. There is plenty of bait around, including squid in Edgartown Harbor where folks are filling up buckets.

Overall, Doug said everything looks good, but they are still waiting for a school of larger bass to show up – and perhaps some bluefish.

Keep fishing; everyone on the island is, Doug added. Almost every vehicle has a rod on or in it because Vineyard anglers don’t give up. And the next tide might just be the one.