Nantucket and Vineyard Sound Fishing Report – July 14, 2016

Bluefish and bottom fishing continue are the talk of the sounds right now, with sizeable bass becoming harder to find as the water warms.

Horseshoe Shoal has had a nice influx of bigger choppers and they can be taken in so many ways. Trolling Hootchie/SI Perfect Squids or jigging parachutes is a great way to cover water and locate where they are holding and they have single hooks that are easier to remove; some folks prefer to troll swimming plugs such as Bombers, SP Minnows, or Yo-zuri Crystal Minnows (particularly the deep diving models), but dealing with treble hooks and an angry, thrashing bluefish is not a good combination.

You can also blind cast around a rip or other likely piece of water, with topwater plugs such as Creek Chubs and Cordell Pencil Poppers good choices because they make the kind of commotion that blues like and they are made of plastic, making them more durable and less costly than wooden offerings. Roberts’ Rangers and Line Stretcher lures are other great bluefish lures, both for shore and boat fishermen.

L’Hommedieu, Wreck Shoal, Hedge Fence, and Succonesset Shoal also hold bluefish this time of year, although they are typically smaller than on Horseshoe. These areas are usually filled with sand eels, and although you might not get to enjoy the sight of a bluefish whacking a topwater offering, metal lures such as Deadly Dicks are great lures for casting to and finding them.

Boaters who are finding bass continue to jig wire in deeper water around the shoals, as well as drifting live scup or pogies if they can get them. This is the time of year when knowing which tides produce cooler water at a given spot can make a big difference; just a degree or two of change can turn a skunking into at least a few fish and some action.

If boat anglers are having a tough time finding bass, then shore anglers have an even great challenge. Spots that have deeper water nearby and stronger currents, as well as some white water, are typically better summer spots than those with flat, featureless conditions. Some of these can be treacherous, particularly when they also have jumbled rocks such as Nobska and even jetties that feature what looks like easy footing, especially when it comes to landing a bigger fish. I mention jetties, or groins, as they are correctly known when they don’t flank either side of the entrance to a channel, harbor, or bay, because they allow you to reach deeper water without employing a pendulum cast.

The number of channels that interrupt the shoreline from Falmouth to Chatham are too many to mention, but this time of year it is not uncommon to find smaller bass holding tight to the jetties that often flank these openings, as well as bluefish lined up outside on an outgoing tide that sweeps bait to them. Spots such as Waquoit Bay and Popponesset often produce a bigger fish or two for boaters on the outgoing tide that helps them troll their tube-and-worm combinations at just the right speed. Shore anglers who drift eels or know how to work a swimming plug crosscurrent, thereby keeping its seductive wiggle going, are ahead of the game, while bottom bouncing or swimming a jig, especially those leadheads that are attached to a soft plastic, is another effective technique.

Bluefish from the beach have been hard to come by, with most fish caught by folks who pick a stretch of beach and walk it while tossing some kind of topwater plug. Planting yourself in one location has proven to be ineffective, although chunking bait at night on a high tide could be an exception.

The warming backwaters of Nantucket Sound are usually inhospitable to bigger bass that have higher dissolved oxygen requirements as opposed to smaller schoolies, so scale your tackle and offerings accordingly. There are, however, holes and channels where larger fish hold in the light of day and they can be targeted from dusk to dawn; studying an area for variations in bottom contours as well as shoreline areas that harbor bait is very worthwhile if you prefer to fish quiet water areas when everyone else is asleep. Lures that produce surface disturbances, especially subtle ones, including deer hair flies, floating soft plastics, floating surface swimmers, needlefish, and stickbaits, are good choices when tossed up against marsh banks, creek mouths, and even docks and pilings. Allowing any of these to sit for a moment while the disturbance resulting from them hitting the water dissipates, followed by a twitch of the rod tip, has often proven to be very productive for me in the past.

Bass River is living up to its name, albeit with mainly small fish, to play a broken record, and the same is true around Harwich. There are some nice schools of pogies around Stage Harbor, with some bluefish working on them.