It’s official: the summer doldrums have hit Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. Other than black sea bass, which are still hitting pretty much anything that anglers are either casting or trolling, as well as the usual bottom fishing, things have gone pretty quiet from Falmouth to Chatham.
The lack of bluefish has pretty much everybody confounded; I have yet to see a significant topwater bluefish show this month and folks who troll places such as Horseshoe Shoal, Middle Ground, Succonesset, Hedge Fence, Eldridge, Wreck Shoal, and Bishop and Clerks have reported very little in the way of consistency or numbers when it comes to choppers.
From shore, bluefish are a surprise catch pretty much all along the Nantucket Sound shoreline, with the sand people having a better shot at brown sharks than choppers, especially if they are using eels. Jeff Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle told me that when he asked an angler who is known for sharking from shore about whether he has had a blue chop up one of his snakes, the answer was a big negative, which is consistent with what I have heard from folks who fish eels.
Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in Yarmouth noted that the solid schoolie fishing we have enjoyed this season is continuing, even as the water begins to warm in the numerous protected waters from Falmouth to Chatham.
That said, even schoolie angling is better at night and your odds of catching a legal bass go up when you fish in the dark. Jeff Clabault often speaks to an angler who is known for anchoring up in the Popponesset Bay entrance channel and drifting live eels and he continues to report that among all the small fish that he catches, most trips produce at least one bass between 28 and 30-inches.
Fluke fishing in the sounds is very poor – well, that is if you want to take home one to eat. Most serious fluke fishermen I have spoken to are catching good numbers of sublegal summer flatties, but fish 17-inches or larger are few and far between. I can assure you that anyone who finds a spot where the fish are big enough to eat are keeping it very quiet and I can’t really blame them. It bears repeating that a key to locating larger fish is concentrating on deep water, often with gravel or other hard bottom.
In most years this might not seem like a big deal, but along with the bounty of scup and sea robins that folks are catching from shore, there are a more and more northern kingfish in the mix and I even heard from Jake Arnold that he caught a puffer fish from the jetty at Cliff Beach in Popponesset.