September 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
Since I am going to include the bluefin bite off Nauset in this report, the outer Cape receives the highest grade this week.
According to Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters, there are finally some castable size tuna within three miles of Nauset; the jig bite has been the best, but folks are also catching them on bars, live bait, and ballyhoo. My friend Bob Lewis was up off of Chatham last Saturday doing some vertical jigging in hopes of catching at least one bass, since Monomoy was dead, and suddenly the boat was surrounded by birds, a few whales, and a whole lot of tuna in the 40 to 50-inch class. They got some good casts into them, but the only hook up was on another boat, which the lucky angler landed.
Another angler told my friend Capt. Warren Marshall that when the tuna bite never happened last Saturday, they instead went to work on a large school of bass in the 24 to 26-inch class that was holding deep in the water column south of Race Point.
Cody added that some larger bass have also been mixed in with the bluefin, with some stripers in the 40-inch class reported.
For the shore crew, the word from Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham is the fishing is picking up, with bass in the low 30-inch class caught around Nauset and off the Wellfleet and Truro beaches. Squid has been a popular bait this season, along with mackerel, since sand eels have been so difficult to come by. Bone colored swimming plugs have been a good choice, with blurple a nighttime favorite. What’s particularly cool is that folks who are just casting out and spiking a bait rod have been catching bass during the day, although the larger fish have typically been caught at night.
Cooler nights and good concentrations of small bait are resulting in increased schoolie activity inside Pleasant Bay, as well as well as inside the cuts that feed the bay, Nauset Harbor, Town Cove and Chatham Harbor.
September 19, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I am going to give this area a wishy washy thumbs up based on two reports.
Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis told me that Shawn Powell, who works at the store in the summer and on weekends during the school year, caught a couple of nice shore fish down Chatham way earlier this week. He was using live eels at night and the larger bass was 22-pounds and the other 18.
As far as the backside beaches go, Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said the winds this week have stirred things up, making fishing even more challenging than usual as not only do you have to deal with seals and a lack of bait, but you have to search for clean water. There are scattered reports of small bass and blues along the backside, but “nothing to write home about,” as Paul put it.
On the other hand, the waters around Morris Island and the creeks and estuaries in Pleasant Bay have been giving up some better fish, both on fly and soft plastics. Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters said that most of these fish are resident; he added, if you want to cheat, then using a live eel will significantly increase your odds of hooking up.
September 12, 2019 Weekly Rating: 2 out of 5
If it’s not an overall lack of fish, it’s seals pilfering bass and blues that folks are catching from the backside beaches, said Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters.
Paul Newmier did hear from one angler who picked up a brace of legal bass fishing bait from up around Newcomb Hollow. One measured 28.5-inches and the other 30, and while this size fish are a far cry from the good old days, they offer a glimmer hope for folks who have become accustomed to catching schoolies and the occasional bluefish from the beaches.
Paul also heard that there was a flurry of bass and bluefish action earlier this week at Race Point; the bass were on the small side, but again, action is very much appreciated in these parts.
Some tuna are still being caught a short jaunt from Nauset Inlet, with live mackerel the most popular bait.
September 5, 2019 Weekly Rating: 2.5 out of 5
I might be accused of being generous with this rating, but when Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s tells me that someone caught a legitimate 16-pound bluefish off Marconi Beach, that gets my attention.
Otherwise, there are small bluefish between Truro and Provincetown, but Paul said that overall, the problem is that it’s hard to get a handle on what is happening from the beaches since hardly anybody is fishing.
There are small bass along the backside and typically concentrations of sand eels will keep them around for a bit, but while many folks focus on the effect of seals on stripers, their impact on bait supplies is perhaps just as great of an issue.
Pleasant Bay fishing will improve over the next several weeks as the water cools and migrating fish move in to feed before heading south. These waters also hold good numbers of resident fish that become more active as they come out of the summer doldrums.
Up around the Golf Ball and even off Chatham, anglers continue to target bluefin with spinning tackle. Without getting into the ethics of fighting a great gamefish to exhaustion and then saying it swam away, when in fact the heavy odds are that it went right to the bottom and became crab food, surface plugs and sliders like the Hogy Grade Charter series are excellent choices. Some of the newer poppers will sink slowly allowing for a subsurface presentation as well as popping on top, while the Hogy Slider can be fished pretty much throughout the upper ranges of the water column.
If you have never done it, taking an early morning walk before and right through first light along Nauset Beach while tossing a plug is something any angler should experience. Combine this with a foot bound excursion at night using eels, needlefish, or swimmers along any of the backside beaches and you will have added one of the greatest surf fishing experiences to your memory bank, even if you don’t catch a single fish.
August 29, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
With Labor Day upon us and some cooler air temperatures affecting what the water is registering, the bass fishing inside Pleasant Bay has really picked up over the last week or so, reported Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters. These fish are feeding on small, young-of-the year baitfish such as peanut bunker and silversides, making smaller, unweighted Hogy soft plastics excellent choices, with bubblegum an especially popular color.
While I was talking to Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham on Thursday morning, a customer came in to buy some sand eels and ask what the size limit was on bass; apparently, they had caught a 21-inch bass and were going back to Coast Guard Beach in hopes of catching something larger. Paul was a little surprised that they said the water was clear since it had been munged up with all of the east wind recently.
He hasn’t heard about any bluefish lately and overall things are pretty quiet, with most of the tourists clearing out last week, it seems.
August 22, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said that other than the cars streaming north to Provincetown for the Carnival 2019 celebration this week, it seems like most folks have left the Cape down his way.
There are some small legal sized bass being caught up around Wellfleet and Truro, mainly on cut bait like mackerel.
Paul added that there don’t seem to be any schools of mackerel or pogies close to the beaches, but there were still some bluefish blitzes this week at Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and Marconi in Wellfleet. Paul couldn’t say what kind of bait drew them in, perhaps sand eels, but folks had fun catching them.
The word from Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters said that the bass bite along the backside has quieted right down for boaters looking for sizeable fish, with only schoolies and some bluefish to report.
August 15, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
It is really encouraging to hear of good beach fishing along the backside for sizeable bass, with folks catching bass between 30 and 40-inches on both plugs and bait.
Although mung has been a problem in some spots and the winds out of the east/northeast typically blow in the clingy red weed, Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said there has been enough clean water to allow folks to fish bait such as chunk mackerel with good results. The few folks that rake sand eels for local shops have had a tough season, but there are schools of pogies and mackerel up and down the backside.
From Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light up to Marconi and High Head, there have been moments reminiscent of the old days, with some guys even having some good action fishing white needlefish a week ago at Nauset.
For boaters, the fish have filled in all along the backside, according to Capt. Austin Proudfoot from North Chatham Outfitters. There are some schools of big bass feeding around schools of pogies and they are willing to hit topwater plugs, including spooks, pencil poppers, and plastic, Polaris style poppers. Austin emphasized that even though the fish are feeding heavily, more than a couple of boats tossing lures at a school will often blow things apart.
There are also some 50 to 55-inch tuna working on schools of pogies, mackerel, and sand eels, with plugs such as sliders working well, although he suspects that dropping down a jighead/soft plastic combination such as the Hogy Harness Jig would get some attention.
Although some folks might forgive it, I find no reason for a boat angler to run up on and into a school of feeding fish, ruining everything for everyone. A little observation of what a successful boater is doing will clue you in, with a typical approach being setting up upwind or uptide from the fish and drifting towards them, put not right on top of them.
August 8, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said that other than a couple of tides where some bass in the 15 to 25-pound range moved in to Nauset and Coast Guard Beaches, the fishing on the backside beaches remains a mix of some schoolies in spots where the seals aren’t all that concentrated, as well as some small bluefish from Race Point down to Herring Cove.
Capt. Austin Proudfoot from North Chatham Outfitters said there are still schools of pogies up and down the backside, with some topwater plugging action around those concentrations being harassed by stripers. The fishing isn’t spectacular and it helps to have a connection to other boats in the area who can help to tip you in on the action when it occurs.
The good captain added that there haven’t been any reports of tuna close in to the beaches, but Rob LaBranche from Blackbeard’s told me that some giant bluefin followed a school of pogies into Provincetown Harbor recently and folks who witnessed it said it was like bombs were being dropped into the water.
As far as Pleasant Bay goes, the water is in its warmest, most stagnant state, making rainy, cooler days a blessing for shore anglers. Early mornings around Morris Island on an incoming tide are probably better bets for sight fishing or even blind casting with sand eel imitations, as well as crab or baby flounder patterns for flyrodders.
If you want to night fish one of the backside beaches that is under the control of the National Seashore, you can obtain a pass that allows you to park in one of their lots for free.
August 1, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
I’m giving the backside a higher grade since there is something else to report for the sand people, as opposed to the same old song about small bass.
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham just got back from a little vacation time in Maryland, and although he didn’t have much firsthand info to share, he said that Rob LaBranche had a very encouraging beach fishing report. Apparently, some big bass moved in around Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and a number of anglers did very well, with one guy reporting that he took his largest bass ever, which he estimated at 40-pounds. Other large fish were caught on plugs, with Paul noting that one angler told him that he did well using a needlefish, but he fished it more like a pencil popper.
All of the action at Coast Guard was at night and fishing low light conditions is key to catching any size bass right now, with the beaches up around Wellfleet and Truro holding mainly schoolies.
At Race Point and Herring Cove, folks are catching small blues from the beach, but bass have been scarce.
For the boat crew, the waters off of Nauset up to the Golf Bass are still holding some quality bass, according to Capt. Austin Proudfoot of North Chatham Outfitters. They are feeding on pogies, mackerel and sand eels, but Austin responded in the negative when I asked if the fishing was reminiscent of the vertical jig bite that brought a flotilla of recremercial and recreational boats to the waters off of Chatham up to Nauset. There are moments when the fish come to the surface, making for some good plugging action, but many folks are either livelining or chunking.
The Hogy Soft Sand Eel makes a great teaser fished in front of a wide assortment of plugs, including swimmers and needlefish. Fishing teasers in front of live eels was a Nauset staple at one time and it’s hard not to think that if someone finds some big fish that are acting finicky that a teaser won’t make a difference.
July 25, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Warming water inside protected spots like Pleasant Bay, Morris Island/the refuge, and the Monomoy flats have slowed fishing considerably. Early morning or dusk into the night are your best options at the moment, with the fish feeding on sand eels, crabs, and grass shrimp. Although flyrodders have the advantage when trying to imitate the latter two baits, using a teaser in front of soft plastic is one way for the spin anglers to join in.
On the outside, the word from Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters is that some schools of bass have shown in the waters from Nauset up to Truro, but they are very close to the three-mile limit. They are feeding on pogies, sand eels, or mackerel, so matching the hatch could be key, as well as finding out where they are holding in the water column.
At Blackbeard’s in Eastham, the good news is that the bluefish are showing in greater numbers, explained Rob LaBranche. Some were caught at Sunken Meadow yesterday afternoon during high water, with plugs working well. There are also bluefish up around Herring Cove and the Race, with some larger double-digit fish in the mix.
Bass fishing from the beaches is spotty, with mainly schoolies being caught on weighted soft plastics. It’s generally a night fishery for any legal stripers off the beaches, but Rob said there is plenty of bait in the form of pogies and mackerel, with whales coming within 300 to 400-yards of the beach to feed.
When the fish off the backside are feeding on sand eels, the Hogy Epoxy Jig and Sand Eel Jig are tough to beat. Many people forget that jigs will work well and they can be worked at different levels of the water column as well as providing extra casting distance when needed.
July 18, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
There are fish to be had by boat along the backside, but you are going to have to put in the time and work for them.
Capt. Austin Proudfoot from North Chatham Outfitters was good enough to tell me that there has been a good bass bite up around Truro and Wellfleet, with the fish feeding on pogies. It’s not an all out epic blitz situation, but he said it has been pretty cool when you find a black spot in the water that is a school of pogies, followed by a bass absolutely walloping a livelined menhaden, almost as if it is angry at it.
I had heard that there were tuna in this area as well and Austin confirmed that they managed to pick up a couple of fish in this area as well.
From the beach, Rob LaBranche at Blackbeard’s in Eastham told me that an angler came into the shop to report catching some legal bass and bluefish up around Ballston Beach earlier this week. He was using topwater plugs and pretty much had the action to himself.
There has also been an improving bluefish bite up around Provincetown, with both boat and shore anglers catching fish. There are some bass mixed in as well, but very few of them have even made the 34-inch commercial limit.
The warming water inside Pleasant Bay has made the combination of seeking deeper holes and channels and fishing early or late very important, while down around Morris Island, incoming water has been important with its cooling influence, followed by the start of the drop.
Fly fishermen definitely have an advantage when it comes working current with sand eel patterns and coaxing wary bass with crab or shrimp patterns, but spin anglers who fish soft plastics will find that sometimes the best retrieve is no retrieve at all, letting the current sweep and move a Hogy Skinny in a subtle, seductive way.
July 11, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Reports of tuna milling off the Golf Ball and other spots on the backside have folks hoping that they get into an eating mood soon.
When Elise Costa from The Powderhorn in Hyannis told me that there were small to large fish up by the Golf Ball, I was relieved in some ways because the bass fishery there has never really taken off this season the way it typically does. Or at least folks in the know were doing a fantastic job of keeping it quiet.
But Elise quickly corrected my assumption and said she was speaking of tuna that were close to shore in the Truro area; they weren’t feeding just yet, but just swimming, as if they were almost checking out things. But if they start to eat, you can bet that plenty of folks will forget just how mediocre the striper fishing has been for boaters working the waters of the backside.
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said he spoke to a kayaker who was fishing off of Race Point and saw one of the local charterboats doing well on bass by vertical jigging. It was hard to say just what size class they were catching, but there were plenty of rods bent over and happy faces.
For the sand people, the beaches from Wellfleet to Provincetown have been holding greater numbers of stripers, but the vast majority remain schoolies in the low to mid-20-inch class.
Swimming plugs and sand eel imitating soft plastics are typically to producers from the backside beaches, but at night there are still a few hardcore working Nauset and Coast Guard with needlefish and live eels at night. Around spots like Herring Cove and the Race, folks still toss topwater plugs in hopes of finding a school or two of fish, even small ones.
Pleasant Bay is definitely warming up, which means early mornings and evenings, as well as inclement weather days, are best when fishing inside, while there as the summer progresses there is more attention paid to the waters surrounding the inlets by boaters. Remember, however, that these areas can change overnight and they are especially dangerous in the fog and/or when the current is running especially hard against opposing winds.
They may seem like a stick with hooks, but needlefish are an outer Cape classic; in fact, folks like Don Musso of Super Strike lures began to make his classic styles after hearing how effective they were in spots like Block Island and the backside beaches. Each one has its own characteristics, but typically it’s a slow, straight retrieve with an occasional rod tip movement.
June 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
It just breaks my heart to see what one of the finest, classic striped bass shore areas on the East Coast has turned into.
If you’re not inundated with hungry seals that will steal your fish, you’re lucky to come up with anything that approaches legal size.
While the tourists are typically happy to soak sand eels or cut bait, swimming plugs and weighted soft plastics are most popular with the folks who still fish these waters.
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham suggested that if you are going to fish the backside beaches, you would do best to concentrate on the beaches from Wellfleet to Race Point.
On a more positive note, Matt Cody at North Chatham Outfitters said that if folks are just looking to catch a fish, they can pretty much send them to any spot up inside Chatham or Orleans and they will catch schoolies. Pleasant Bay also is still holding good numbers of bass as well as hickory shad, which are a lot of fun on the fly rod and light tackle. After all, there is a good reason that some folks call them “poor man’s tarpon.”
June 20, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Plenty of bait around the backside is a precursor to the fishing taking off – if it hasn’t happened already.
Capt. Austin Proudfoot at North Chatham Outfitters told me that there is a ton of bait along the backside, especially up around the Truro and Provincetown area. Pogies, sand eels, mackerel, and sea herring typically concentrate from the Golf Ball to Race Point, with some folks believing that this bait moves around the tip of the Cape into Cape Cod Bay, while others feel that there is an earlier influx of macks that comes around the corner earlier in the season, eventually deeper into the bay and then back up towards Provincetown.
By this time of the year, the Provincetown/Truro bite is typically already on and that might be the case as we speak, with those in the know being cagey about what they have.
Meanwhile, Race Point to Wellfleet remains the best stretch for the shore crew, said Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham. Finnish style swimming plugs are popular, but Paul really tries to steer folks towards jighead/soft plastic combinations, both paddletails and eel styles, because their single hook makes it easier and cleaner to release small fish, which dominate the population in this area right now.
June 14, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
With the number of folks fishing from Provincetown to Wellfleet greater than there are down around Eastham and Orleans, it would only make sense that there would be more news and more fish being caught.
Race Point is producing a good number of bass, with a lot of folks telling Paul that they are getting close to catching a legal one, with many between 26 and 27-inches.
Paul also spoke to some folks who rent a cottage up around Wellfleet and they have managed to catch four legal bass this week on white or bone colored Finnish style swimmers. The fish weren’t huge, but they were happy to be able to eat some bass.
Down his way, there are some small bass being caught around Coast Guard and Nauset Light, Paul said, but generally they have been small schoolies.
I also stopped by to talk with Capt. Joe Fitzback at Chatham Bait & Tackle and he said that along with good numbers of small bass in the rivers and other protected waters such as Pleasant Beach, it is also not uncommon to catch hickory shad, which are great fun on fly and light tackle.
Although it won’t do any good for folks looking for bass to eat or that one cow that they can kill for bragging rights, the reality is that there are plenty of smaller bass around that make for great fun is you down size your tackle. Even if you’re a flyrodder, you can down size to anything between a five and seven-weight and use smaller flies. If you need to use a weighted bug, consider using bead chain eyes as opposed to a honker set of lead Clouser barbells.
June 6, 2019 Weekly Report: No Rating
Other than small bass from Race Point down to Wellfleet, the back beaches have been pretty quiet. The winds have been generally out of the north and east this week, making conditions difficult for the few shore anglers who continue to put in their time along the sand.
May 30, 2019 Weekly Rating: 1 out of 5
This rating just might be too generous, but at least there are good numbers of schoolies being caught up off Race Point. Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said the number of people putting forth any kind of effort along the back beaches in May has dwindled to almost nothing.
May 24, 2019 Weekly Report:
Paul Newmier at Blackbeard’s in Eastham said that the wind has kept folks from fishing the backside beaches, although he did hear from one angler who was up at Race Point and experienced the frustration of watching other fishermen catch bass while he came up empty.
Odds are that if the fish are on the beach, then boaters should be enjoying the Provincetown and backside jig bite, as well as some solid topwater action, but at the moment, the wind is keeping most vessels tied to the dock or on their trailers.
May 17, 2019 Weekly Report:
Paul Newmier from Blackbeard’s in Eastham said the conditions this spring have kept most folks off the water, but up inside Pleasant Bay there have been plenty of small bass. In years past, an occasional really large, holdover fish has been caught, and given the relatively mild winter we experienced, the odds go up that a wise old striper managed to hang out in a deeper hole or channel, waiting for the sun to signal that spring has arrived.