Although it might not make charter captains happy whose clientele only wants to target big bass, pretty much everyone else is having a ball from Middle Ground to Halfway to Hedge Fence to Wasque. The shoals are filled with nice, strong, and fat stripers from 24 to 28-inches, with enough 30+-inch fish to make it interesting. As long as the squid hangs around, and the water temperatures are still in an optimal range, there is no reason to believe the action is going to just shut off like a switch.
Capt. Warren Marshall has had nothing but good reports about the catches of his fly rod clients; small white squid imitations fished on a variety of lines has been the way to go and the snottier the rip, the better the fishing.
Spin anglers have been using a multitude of lures, but seven and 10-inch Original Hogy’s can be seen on the lines of many anglers. Ken Shwartz called me to say and he and his guest had a ball at MG on Wednesday, with the Hogy Pro Tail Eel in white really shining when the current was strongest and the rip really wild.
It’s pretty distinctive to watch how the number of gulls starts to dwindle as the tide slacks and the bass aren’t as actively pursuing squid, with more terns working the rip for sand eels and more bluefish being caught. There are a large number of three to four-pound choppers being caught, but some eight to ten-pound fish are mixed in as well.
Overall, bluefish reports have been few and far between in terms of surface feeding schools as is typically associated with choppers. Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth spoke to someone who fishes for them commercially and apparently he did manage to find a school of three to four-pounders and caught enough to sell.
On the other hand, Ben Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle said that Horseshoe Shoal has been pretty much devoid of blues, and even though he heard from a couple of anglers who managed to pick up a few bluefish trolling Yo-zuri swimming plugs around the shoal edges of Succonesset, he said the odds of picking up a bass there are greater than a chopper, which is really strange.
That said, Ben did finally have a bluefish story regarding South Cape Beach, which has been really disappointing in comparison to its past reputation. A couple of anglers said they managed three fish the other day; they weren’t casting the typical topwater long casting plugs such as Roberts’ Rangers or Line Stretcher Surface Tensions, but managed to reach the fish others couldn’t with Kastmasters. Ben has been saying all season that he has been catching more fish with metal lures such as Kastmasters and Hopkins, with Crippled Herrings another good choice.
Ben had another good story regarding bass in an area accessible to shore anglers, although in this case it came from a boat angler who was anchored up in one of the entrance channels to Popponesset Bay. Using live eels, he caught a number of bass right in the middle of the day, including a 25-pounder that Ben emphasized was the largest he has heard of coming from the sounds this season. Be advised that other boaters were not happy with his tactic and that it is technically again maritime regulations to fish, not to mention anchor, in a boating channel.
For whatever reason, the shore bluefish has generally been better and more consistent from West Dennis Beach to Chatham; Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle has consistently mentioned that anglers have been doing well with topwater lures early in the morning and again at dusk.
If size doesn’t matter and you enjoy light tackle action, then you continue to be in luck as there are schoolies in pretty much every bay, harbor, salt river, salt pond, and estuary from Falmouth to Chatham. There is absolutely no reason to use anything other than single hook offerings when targeting this size fish, making Texas rigged, swimbait rigged, or jighead rigged soft plastics a great choice. Crushing the barbs is an additional step that can be taken to limit damage to these smaller bass, as is taking care to lean over and unhook them while they are still in the water as opposed to lifting them up by the jaw and supporting their full weight from this fragile structure. Ultimately, limiting how many of them you catch is also a worthwhile consideration.
Black sea bass fishing is just plain excellent in the sounds and although it is common practice to target them over rocky structure or wrecks, at the moment they are often schooling up and feeding on the surface. When they are doing this, casting Standard Issue Epoxy Jigs and Heavy Jigs will produce plenty of fish, with a good number of BSB over the 15-inch minimum still around.
As far as fluke goes, there is no way of getting around it: this season is a bust so far. Mike Thomas believes that they have not yet made their way inshore, but the presence of draggers on a number of shoals in Vineyard Sound can’t be helping the situation. Although it has been argued in the past that commercial flukers concentrate on large fish, most of them are managing only three to four fish that would meet the recreational 17-inch minimum; many of the fluke they are keeping to sell are in the 15 to 16-inch range and they are even getting good money for 14-inch fish.