Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth reported seeing a huge number of terns working off of Great Pond on Wednesday morning; I suspect he was pulling my leg when he said he saw forked tail fish like albies. Until I see one caught, I am going to stick with my belief that they were bluefish.
A young angler returned to Eastman’s later that day and told me that he picked up a couple of these same small blues fishing off the jetties that line the beaches from Surf Drive to Nobska. As I recall, he said he did best at dusk using bait, although he added that something was doing a job on the squid baits he was fishing. The Falmouth Nantucket Sound shoreline is predominantly sand and is home to numerous crabs and bottom fish such as scup that are adept at stealing bait. A float rig will help you keep your bait away from the crabs, but I have yet to find a solution to scup.
The late Al Reinfelder was an expert on fishing the shadow lines of bridges and there is a book called “The Legend of Billy the Greek” in which he talks a great deal about fishing bridges at night. While you most likely won’t catch the big bass that Al did and Billy still does, the bridges that run over Great, Green, and Bourne’s Pond in Falmouth are holding numbers of schoolies in the morning and again at night according to the folks I have spoken to who concentrate on this fishery. A fly angler came into Eastman’s yesterday and reported that there were fish breaking everywhere inside the Great Pond channel around dusk, but he was only able to take a few casts into the commotion before calling it a night.
I used to love fishing under the Great Pond bridge and hearing the bass popping on small baits, which sometimes came flying right out of the water in a spray of silver. Along with silversides, sand eels, and peanut bunker, with the latter moving out into the sounds in increasing numbers, grass shrimp and other copepods are another food source around bridges; if the bass are on them, it can make for a frustrating night unless you are flyrodding and have small enough bugs on hand to match-the-hatch. Spin anglers can use a casting bubble or small popper to naturally present a fly, drifting it along in the current and around the shadows.
These areas also attract fluke since they like the combination of current and hapless baitfish; I spoke to one angler who came in looking for a rig that would allow him to fish the Waquoit Bay entrance channel since he saw a fellow fisherman catch a big fluke there the day before. These waters also hold schoolies and provide a real challenge to get your soft plastic, either unweighted or weighted (based on the stage of the current), or fly right against the jetty where the fish seek a combination of protection and an ambush point.
Jeff Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 in Sandwich has heard of a combination of small bass and blues from South Cape Beach, either at night or false dawn, or on inclement days that provide low light conditions.
He was especially excited for a young angler who finally managed to catch a schoolie bass from the jetty at the Cliff Beach in Popponesset; I know that area well, having spent more than my share of time picking out backlashes from the casting reels I used and catching mainly scup. My first big catch there was a bluefish that grabbed a piece of squid I was fishing at night for bass; I can still remember the hoots and hollers I let out upon landing that blue and I imagine that this youngster was floating on air at his catch as well.
The Popponesset spit and the Cotuit beaches have had a mix of small bass and bluefish, especially in the evening or very early morning. Anything larger would typically come from the entrance channels in the deeper water, either on bait or jigs at night or well before sun-up. The water is warming very quickly once the sun is up, pretty much coaxing the fish to head for deeper water.
Schools of small bluefish are fairly easy to find for boaters in the sound from Mashpee to Chatham, with terns and gulls marking where they are feeding on small bait. Topwater plugs, both poppers and spooks, are fun when it comes to casting for blues, but at times they have been tough to catch with plugs. At those times, small metals or even a teaser rig of a jig and a trailing fly will bring the best results. If they are taking plugs, remember to at least take off enough trebles to leave one set or better yet switch over to a single hook on the tail end.
Amy Wrightson at The Sports Port in Hyannis reported that some nice king mackerel have shown up off of Craigville Beach; they are being caught on the troll, typically with Yo-zuri Deep Diving Crystal Minnows, Deep Diving 3D Crystal Minnows, or Deep Diving Jointed 3D Crystal Minnows. Flashy colors such as chartreuse, pink, or orange work well, as do mackerel patterns and the sardine color, both of which feature plenty of flash.
The word from Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle is that there are small bluefish in the one to three-pound range being caught from the beaches between West Dennis and Harding’s; boaters are catching some larger blues up to eight-pounds, typically around Collier’s Ledge, the rock pile off of West Dennis, and Horseshoe Shoal. Any bass being caught from boat or shore in the sounds are on the small side.
It might be coincidence, but it seems like some larger sea bass have moved back inshore, with boaters doing well around Popponesset Rock, Lone Rock, Wreck Shoal, Eldridge Shoal, and Horseshoe; these aren’t the huge fish you will find south and east of the Vineyard and Nantucket, but you can definitely pick up enough to make a good fried fish dinner.