Nantucket and Vineyard Sound Fishing Report – May 18, 2017

Saturday will see plenty of boats fishing for black sea bass on opening day and if this year is anything like the previous couple, there should be no problem finding a healthy gathering of them. Typically, boat folks focus on structure such as Collier’s, Bishop and Clerks, and Nobska, but you can do just as well in close to the rock piles around Hyannis or any number of jetties or groins that line the Nantucket Sound shoreline. It is not uncommon for some boat anglers to make the run from the southside over to the Port Hunter wreck off of Oak Bluffs, which is known for producing good numbers of lit up males, that feature pronounced bumps and blue coloration as they engage is spawning activity.

Sea bass opens for the season on Saturday, May 20th.
Sea bass opens for the season on Saturday, May 20th.

Squid fishing has definitely slowed down, making it tough for anglers who live to jig up their own fresh calamari to eat or freeze up for future fishing trips. You can purchase frozen squid and some shops even carry local Loligo, but Andy Little from The Powderhorn suggested an alternative: Fish Bites. This product is very cost effective, with one commercial angler who focuses on scup, sea bass, and tautog telling Andy that he saved about $1,000 on bait last year and Andy added that some of the partyboat operations out of Hyannis are using it, avoiding the mess of the real thing. It comes in different “flavors,” with Crab, Seaworm, and Squid the most popular. A big advantage is that you can always have bait on hand without dealing with defrosting or finding that you are out of bait and the local tackle shop is closed.

It is no fish story to suggest that you can find schoolie bass in pretty much every protected water that flows into Nantucket Sound. Early morning and again at dusk can produce everything from a pick of small fish up to an all out explosion of stripers all around your boat, something that Bob Lewis enjoyed earlier this week inside Cotuit. He added that the schools of adult pogies apparently have moved out of the Three Bays area, taking with them a good portion of larger bass that Bob found last week.

The word from Andy Little is pluggers willing to fish through a good number of small bass have managed to catch an occasional larger bass up to the 30-pound range using a variety of metal lips, surface plugs, and Daiwa SP Minnows. Ben Clabault had word of a 24-pound bass that came from the Menauhant area in Falmouth, again on a plug.

Bob also fished a worm hatch in the same general area on Wednesday evening, while Jim Young from Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth has heard of worm events in many of the salt ponds in Falmouth.

Jeff Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle believes that since there are so many fish migrating through right now, the fishing can be hit-or-miss or hot-and-cold based on when you are at a given location. He fished Popponesset on Tuesday and managed a couple of small bass on his favorite Lonely Angler surface plug, but he heard that Monday the fish was excellent for bass. Jigging the channel with paddletail plastics has accounted for a few better stripers, with the best action back-and-forth between the Cotuit and Poppy sides.

There are still good numbers of bluefish off of Oregon Beach; Bob Lewis has been doing very well on the fly, including using poppers. This method of fishing is often the best way to catch these fish when they are swirling, tailing, and just generally acting finicky. For spin or conventional anglers, changing over to a metal lure when surface plugs aren’t working is a good idea. I am even willing to sacrifice a bag or two of soft plastics if that’s what the fish want; it’s actually kind of fun to try and put a shredded bait back together to the point where another fish with hit it.

Early mornings and dusk are definitely the best bet for blues around Cotuit, Popponesset, and South Cape Beach, where Jeff caught a couple of fish on Wednesday. He also made the long trek past Succonesset Point to see if he could find some bass, which he did. The largest was around 26-inches, but he dropped a larger one that took a swing at his pencil popper.

Andy Little explained that boaters are picking up mostly smaller bass on some of the shoals, such as Succonnesset and Wreck, both jigging wire and trolling swimming plugs. If you can’t stand wire or even trolling, for that matter, then vertical jigging as your drift through the rips can be very productive; Epoxy Jigs are an excellent choice, but remember to use one that has enough weight to deal with the current and get down to where the fish are.

Nobska is also producing more bass, said Jim Young, especially for boaters who are jigging wire, although I did see one angler hooked up the other day who was most likely tossing plugs or plastics into the rocks. A quick swing through this area is always a good idea, whether before first light or at dusk, before you make your way to the Elizabeths, if that is your destination.