Nantucket and Vineyard Sound Fishing Report – September 21, 2018

@gettightsportfishing with an albie caught on an Epoxy Jig.

Capt. Peter Fallon visited the Cape starting late last week and continuing through this week in search of albies and offered a good take on what he experienced, which any funny fish angler should pay attention to:

The albie -lesson that stands out this week is that today isn’t yesterday and tomorrow won’t be today. I’ve been on the water every day this week, often for 10 to 12 hour trips, and no two days have been the same. The weather has varied, the places where we found fish varied, and the behavior of those fish varied.

The best classic albie fishing we encountered was last Friday. We cruised Waquoit to Cotuit at a good clip, only pausing briefly to look and glass the water. When we saw the size of the fleet at Craigville, we kept going and promptly found packs of roving albies off of Hyannis moving courteously into the tide and staying up for a pleasing length of time. It’s so much fun to set up and wait for the fish to come to you, to see them slash and swirl, and then to try to make “the” cast. This behavior continued throughout the tide and we landed a lot of fish on the 7/8 oz. Hogy SI Epoxy Jig in pink and the soft plastics in white, pink, and amber.

Early afternoon was tough for us. The pods weren’t showing as frequently and would quickly splash and sound. Later in the afternoon our perseverance was rewarded with fast moving fish between Great Pond and Waquoit. These guys weren’t so easy, but they were catchable.

On Saturday we covered a lot of ground and heard reports of a lot of tough fishing. Finally around 10:00 we found good numbers of albies breaking the surface with a slow and subtle rise in the greasy calm water. We were right on the edge of a sharp drop off that held a lot of bait. This too was incredibly satisfying as the challenge involved boat maneuvering, accurate casts, and the right retrieve. After some experimenting, we struck gold with a hot pink soft plastic fished with a twitch and pause retrieve, similar to what you’d use on a flat for stripers. They ate it well and we were all smiles, fortunate to have these fish to ourselves for the two hours that they were up. The most unusual catch of the day came when we paused over structure to jig up a couple of scup and sea bass as a mental break from the albie focus. I dropped my jig to the bottom to in a quick jigging demonstration and was tight to an albie as soon as I lifted the jig off the bottom. It’s not the first time we’ve jigged these fish, but it was the most surprising.
Sunday was slow. We found some small groups of fish working the outflows of the Falmouth salt ponds and finished on fast moving small groups in the shallows between Allen Harbor and Harwichport, but success only came blind casting. Monday was great in deeper water for fly caught albies, really a standout day. Tuesday was strange. The fish turned on for 30 minutes and ate hard. The wind was building and the current picking up…and… it just changed. Either the fish departed or they sounded and the show was mostly over just when we thought it would go on all morning. It surely wasn’t due to pressure as there weren’t many boats out in that building blow.

And then there was today. At 9:00 it was like someone threw a switch. Despite slack current, the fish that challenged us to catch two in two hours turned on and all of the boats were battling albies. As the fish pushed inshore and had the bait corralled, they became wicked, wicked, fussy. Nobody was catching. There was a lot of furious knot tying going on but the fish kept feeding, just ignoring all of the fake meals tossed their way.

Peter’s report echoes what a number of folks experienced this week, with slow fishing in spots such as Woods Hole, Nobska, Waquoit, Osterville and Craigville that suddenly morphed into contact action for a couple of hours or more, with fishing pressure, current speed changes, a thinning out of the bait, or some form of voodoo suddenly causing the albies to disappear or become incredibly picky.

Color does make a difference, but olive or pink seem to be two that keep popping up in a lot of news. Changes in retrieve patterns and speed have been critical to catching fish when they apparently go off the feed, with dead drifted/sticked soft plastics, with an occasional twitch, effective at times.

My buddy Capt. Warren Marshall found a small blue fly that he ties very productive in last Friday’s epic bite around Hyannis, and on Sunday, Bob Lewis used the same pattern to hook one of the only fish caught in the morning at Craigville among a large number of boats and kayaks. Blue certainly doesn’t seem like a typical color for an albie fly, but I know that Warren prefers to include a “full dress tail” in his flies, like the ones that Bob Popovics shows in his excellent tying books. They are time consuming, but Warren spends a good amount of time at his bench forming hackle chevrons that he ties to mono that is then inserted into thin Mylar tubing, with drops of super glue helping to hold things together.
Over at Riverview Bait and Tackle in Yarmouth, Lee Boisvert responded in the affirmative when I asked if the best albie action down his way was taking place off the mouths of spots such as Bass River and those in Harwich. In areas where there is a significant outflow, the end of the incoming and even slack will have fish popping here and there, but once the bait stream picks up on the outgoing, it can seem like the albies showed up out of thin air.

There has definitely been an uptick in the schoolie activity along the south facing beaches from Falmouth to Chatham, as well as up inside pretty much every protected body of water along the same stretch of shoreline. Keep in mind that these bass are feeding on small bait if you are fly fishing, but poppers tossed into a fray for some reason will often bring a reaction from any larger fish holding below the schoolies. Spin anglers can accomplish the same thing by using a walk-the-dog plug worked along the edges of where all the small fish are making a ruckus or dropping a soft plastic/leadhead combination such as a Hogy Pro Tail Paddle/Eel or a SE Barbarian Jig.

Jeff Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 in Sandwich reminded me again that while he has been picking up mainly schoolies working paddletails in the Popponesset Bay entrance channel, he has witnessed an angler, who anchors up and fishes eels, catching a number of mid to high 30-inch bass over the last several weeks. As great as it is to find birds marking where the fish are, the larger ones typically keep to themselves lower in the water column where the current does the work of bring food to them.