If you’re going to fish shoals like Middle Ground, Halfway/L’Hommedieu, Hedge Fence, and Succonesset, to name some that get the most attention, you had better be there well before first light as the bite has been short-lived before the fish get lockjaw. Ken Shwartz experienced the frustration on Wednesday of doing well early before the high sunshine made it easy to see the bass, but they were having nothing to do with a multitude of soft plastics that he and his fellow anglers were tossing. There is still some squid around, a good portion of them being young-of-the-year nuggets, but there are also shoals of sand eels around, which may make a change to smaller, thinner profile soft plastics such as the Hogy Skinny Series, as well as the Standard Issue Sand Eels.
Despite reports of good numbers of fluke being caught in the deeper water on both sides of the bar at MG, the sad reality is that very few of them approach the 17-inch legal recreational size limit. There were a number of commercial flukers drifting the area today and they must have been happier than the sporting population since they can keep fish as small as 14-inches.
One piece of good news concerned Horseshoe Shoal, where there are some smaller concentrations of bluefish, requiring more trolling with swimming plugs such as Daiwa SP Minnows and Yo-zuri Crystal Minnows than tossing topwater lures. The choppers are on the smallish size, but given that this top bluefish-producing shoal had been eerily quiet, anything has been an improvement. Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis added that some bass up to the low 30-inch range are being caught at Horseshoe, with live or fresh dead squid best for catching these stripers.
Shore anglers are also picking at mainly smallish bluefish from South Cape Beach to Oregon Beach, according to Ben Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle, with a variety of topwater plugs working. Dowses Beach in Osterville is another area that produces bluefish on a fairly consistent basis, but for some reason the waters from Bass River/West Dennis Beach to Harding’s Beach has had more consistent action, with dusk fishing better than first light.
Schoolies are still able to handle the rapidly warming water in the backwaters all along the Nantucket Sound shoreline, but even they have been most active in the wee hours of the morning and again after sunset. Fly fishermen are often catching more bass than spin anglers as the smallish bass are feeding on small bait that is best mimicked with a small baitfish pattern, although poppers fished on floating lines is a lot of fun since they elicit showy responses. For spin anglers, tossing small poppers or stickbaits/spooks does the same thing, but the treble hooks they sport do way too much damage. Instead, consider using ultralight tackle to toss three to four-inch skinny profile soft plastics as well as those with a bit more heft and stockier design, such as the Zoom Super Fluke. Although it is more common to rocket past slapping schoolies when heading to bigger water in search of bigger fish, stopping to take a few minutes to play with some schoolies can be a very good way to start the day.
Along with some surface feeding schools of sea bass, boaters are reporting catching them while trolling the edges of a number of shoals in the sounds, such as Eldridge, Wreck, and Hedge Fence. While you can get your limit with a little effort, the same can’t be said about fluke fishing; you are going to have to pick through plenty of small summer flatties to get your three fish daily limit and ultimately that means a lot of dead discards going over the side.