August 15, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
According to Rory Edwards at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket, a local charterboat captain he talked to acknowledged that many boats have been struggling to catch bass, with only some low 30-inch fish being caught on wire and jigs.
I suspect it’s the same through the sounds as the water is very warm and there isn’t much in the way of larger bait on the shoals.
Hedge Fence is filled with small bluefish as well as some bonito, but you are going to have to sacrifice some lures if you go with light enough leaders to get bites from the funny fish.
Deep Diving Crystal Minnows (regular or HD) in pink seem to be the hot item for bonito this year, but Rory Edwards told me that last weekend he set out a spread while fishing State Beach early in the morning that included the smaller Yo-zuri 5.5-inch Hydro Squirts on the outside long lines and the Crystal Minnows on the shorter inside lines. A similar set up should certainly work wherever bonito are known to feed since by trolling your chances of intercepting fish go way up.
I haven’t heard of anyone encountering bonito at Middle Ground, but it would only make sense that they are there given the great action off Tashmoo. Again, trolling will help you find bonito, but as is the case everywhere, if you show up and everyone else is casting, then trying to troll in and among the boats is a huge no-no.
Evan Eastman’s from Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street had some really encouraging news on the shore fishing scene. In one case, an angler told him that he has been catching bass that are just shy of the 28-inch legal limit by casting eels at night in the entrance channels to the salt ponds along the south facing shoreline of Falmouth.
Another angler told Evan that he caught a legal fish on squid around Nobska Beach and a third said he has been catching a mix of legal bass and blues fishing plugs from shore around Woods Hole, with a large plastic chartreuse spook especially effective.
There are still bluefish being caught along the southside beaches from South Cape to Chatham, with Dowses, West Dennis Beach, and Herring River in Harwich spots that are often mentioned. There are schools of pogies in the backwaters and along the beaches in many spots; in fact, Shawn Powell from the Sports Port in Hyannis aid he was fishing for scup at Dowses earlier in the week when a school of six to ten-pound bluefish trapped a school of pogies again the jetty and shoreline, resulting in some great action.
Over at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth, Mac told me that while Bass River is mainly occupied by schoolies, a 34-inch striper was caught there recently, so there are some bigger fish around. Many of these fish move up into the rivers that are prevalent along the shoreline from Yarmouth to Harwich during incoming water to feed around marshy areas that harbor shrimp, crabs, and baitfish such as silversides before dropping down towards the mouths as the tide drops.
Ground fishing in the sounds is slow, with your best bet at catching sizeable fluke in the deeper waters of Vineyard Sound, while you can find nice sized sea bass and scup by going to the structure and holes in a triangle marked by Cuttyhunk, Noman’s, and Gay Head.
Although everybody has a favorite color Epoxy Jig or Heavy Minnow Jig, if you are fishing from a boat, then having multiple rods rigged up with different colors is the way to go. If you cast into actively feeding fish and have tried everything to dial in what will get the fish to hit, from changing speeds to rod movements to depth of your retrieve, then grab another rod with another color and have at it. In addition, although I am a big fan of the 3/8 and 5/8-ounce Epoxies, the larger ones often get the trick done since they offer a larger profile than the prevailing baitfish present.
August 8, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
With the fluke fishing on the mediocre side and the black sea bass on the smaller side, and combining that with a general lack of sizeable bass, the sounds definitely don’t rate a high number this week.
Perhaps the most consistent action has been on bluefish, with schools of smaller fish along the southside beaches, especially at dusk and concentrated more to the east, starting around Cotuit and continuing right on to Chatham.
Bob Lewis told me he did some scouting in the Three Bays area in preparation for his nephews’ visit and found scattered schoolie activity and some small blues, along with one-inch peanut bunker.
Clearly, the biggest news there is the baby pogies, which are a favorite target of false albacore and typically keep them around when they finally do show up.
At the moment, there has been one lone bonito reported from the waters close to shore and that was taken several weeks ago at Popponesset, while a single Spanish mackerel was caught at Hedge Fence this week. Last year’s king mackerel bite off of Craigville has also not repeated itself so far this season.
Hedge Fence did produce a number of small bonito in the three to four-pound range, noted Christian Giardini of Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket. The angler who caught them did manage one casting, but found trolling swimmers more productive.
Most of the shoals between Falmouth and Chatham are holding some small bluefish, with some larger, six to eight-pound fish being trolled up at Horseshoe Shoal.
Middle Ground still has some schoolie activity in the early morning and again at dusk on the change of the tides, but the fluke activity there has been disappointing.
In fact, the fluke fishing throughout the sounds has been tough, with far more sublegal fish than take homes. Lucas Shoal has been way off and Jim Young said that last Sunday produced a skunking for him around Hedge Fence. In fact, he mentioned that he didn’t see single tern or any sign of life during his trip, which is odd since this time of year is when seeing flocks of these small seabirds working over bluefish is pretty common.
Although I don’t do any trolling, using this technique to find a concentration of fish, whether bluefish, bass, or even bonito, at which point you can switch over to casting, is a good practice. The Hogy Slider has proven to be an excellent trolling and casting lure and has caught everything from sea bass to big bluefin, allowing you to carry one lure that does it all.
August 1, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3 out of 5
Until the funny fish show in reliable numbers, I can’t give the sounds a higher grade.
Following in that vein, the best news I heard this week regarding these waters came courtesy of Taylor Trudel at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs who said that bonito have been caught in Vineyard Sound this week. The folks who caught them are being close mouthed about the location where they found the bones, but Taylor saw the photos and confirmed the sources were reliable.
There was even one caught from the Vineyard Sound shoreline and that is a long stretch, but Tashmoo and Menemsha are two spots that are known for playing host to some of the Vineyards best funny fish anglers.
Otherwise, the story is the same in the sounds, whether you are fishing off of Waquoit Bay or Cotuit, West Dennis or Stage Harbor: small schools of bluefish at dawn and dusk for both shore and boat anglers, with a shot at a schoolie or two for the sand-and-rock people around the inlets and jetties if you are willing to fish in the dark.
Generally, the casual shorebound angler has had to settle for scup, sea robins, dogfish, and some northern kingfish, while eels and chunk baits are good options if you are looking for that one, sizeable wayward bass.
Many serious shore anglers turn to fishing for sharks from the southside beaches between Falmouth and Chatham and some impressive brown and sand tigers are caught each year, along with a few massive rays. Fresh bluefish chunks are a shark favorite, while eels are a close second.
You have a shot of picking up some small bass at Middle Ground, Hedge Fence, Nobska, or other shoals in the sounds, or even some of the rocky structure and shoreline between Craigville and Point Gammon, but generally you will encounter bluefish in the three to five-pound class.
Horseshoe Shoal is still the one spot mentioned where there are some larger blues in the 6 to 8-pound class, with an occasional double-digit fish in the mix. Trolling plugs or Hogy Perfect Squids is one way to locate the fish and then switch over to casting tackle, if that is the way you prefer to fish.
Fluke fishing is slow and you are going to pick through a large number of throwbacks before you even garner one or two that meet the 17-inch minimum.
The average sea bass being caught in Nantucket Sound is odds on a sublegal fish, but the farther you go down Vineyard Sound towards Aquinnah and Noman’s, the fish get much larger and more plentiful.
Downsizing is an important concept at the moment when it comes to fishing for bass and blues. Trolling a parachute on wire line to catch a four-pound bluefish or 24-inch striper isn’t particularly sporting, although it will put a bend in your rod. And got forbid if you are one of those folks who drags an umbrella rig with multiple hook baits through a school of small bass, ultimately reeling three or four schoolies. If the fish are deep, try some vertical jigging with a lighter duty rod and have some fun with the small fish, but not the point that you totally exhaust it because your equipment is totally inadequate. When the water is as warm as it is in the sounds, you need to use proper technique with light tackle to get the fish to the boat quickly and if need be take the extra time to revive a fish that shows signs of needing it.
July 25, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Let’s get right to the point by saying that the positive news concerning the sounds is that bluefish, from small to large, have made an improving showing.
From Middle Ground to Hedge Fence, L’Hommedieu to Succonesset, and from Cotuit to Chatham, you will most likely encounter flocks of terns working over small blues. Averaging between three to five-pounds, they are ideal for light tackle plugging and casting an assortment of jigs, from Hogy Epoxy’s to Heavy Metal Jigs. Rig them with a single Siwash hook of sufficient size, get rid of any other hooks, and you will catch just as many fish and the lure will provide something that you can grab hold of to avoid the gyrations and teeth of a hot blue.
For fly anglers, foam poppers are great fun; I have friends who rig with wire shock leaders, but I have found 50-pound fluorocarbon perfectly fine, and unlike some of the knottable wires, which kink and become unruly after one fish, fluorocarbon has no such issues. If you’re wondering why I use the more expensive leader material (after all, they’re only bluefish), fluoro is more abrasion resistant and I have had better luck with it. It can stand a bite of fraying, but resist the temptation to take one more cast when you have serious questions about its integrity. It’s safer to just retie.
Some folks I know tie up a bunch of poppers with short traces of piano wire in which they twist up a loop at the opposite end that can be tied to the leader in a pinch.
Bass of any size have been tough to come by for boaters; I can add that inconsistent is a key work as on one tide, someone will tell me they caught all the schoolies they wanted at MG, but after the change, another group will lament that they couldn’t find anything there. I will place my faith in the incoming water, since it is a bit cooler typically, but I think the biggest key is get there early or save your trip until dusk.
Charter and recreational boats jigging wire at L’Hommedieu have been tangling with bluefish for the most part, with an occasional striper grabbing a parachute jig, with chartreuse or chartreuse/white popular at this point in the summer season.
Sea bass has definitely slowed, with a run over towards the north shore of the Vineyard, Wasque, or Noman’s the key to encountering larger specimens. Vineyard Sound also has some nice rips that form when the water is flowing out of Quick’s and Robinson’s, and along with some bass and blues, typically there are a few sizeable BSB in the mix as well.
I assume that the lack of boats on Lucas Shoal or even the deep water edges is an indication of how the fluke fishing is there and the few people I have spoken to who have gone there reported plenty of sea robins.
The deep water off the northside of the Vineyard is a better bet, but you may have to use as much as 12 or more ounces of weight to get down in the current. I’m not sure that any of the local shops on the Cape hold bucktail jigs that heavy, so typically flukers will resort to big bank sinkers to get their favorite rig down near the bottom.
It certainly helps to have a strong concentration of big fluke like they do off of Nantucket, but I suspect that dropping down a larger meal, whether it is comprised of natural or artificial offerings, or even a combination, will get more attention from any larger fluke in the area. Gulp! Swimming Mullets, which have proven to be winning fluke bait, come as large as 6-inches, but most shops only carry the smaller sizes. Combining one of the jumbo sizes with a squid strip, silverside, mummichog or sand eel, as well as possibly a rubber skirt, will give you a “fluke sandwich” that draws attention. In many fluke filleting videos, they show the experts cleaning up a fillet by cutting off what I believe are the remnants of the fins and at least one suggests freezing them to use on future trips, as opposed to killing an undersized fluke for fluke belly strips.
Speaking of fluke, Scott Blazis of the Sports Port in Hyannis told me that some are being caught up inside the Centerville and Bass River, as well as around the mouths. I suspect the same might be true of Parker River in Yarmouth, Swan River in Dennis Port, and the rivers in Harwich, especially Herring River.
Bluefish have made sporadic appearances all along the southside beaches, with Popponesset, Oregon, Dowses, Craigville, West Dennis, Red River Beach, and Harding Beach at the mouth of Stage Harbor often mentioned, but there are numerous jetties jutting into Nantucket Sound that will help you gain some distance if the choppers are holding outside your longest cast.
Rory Edwards also saw a photo of a bonito that a young angler caught from the Popponesset beachfront, the first bone reported so far this season from the southside, from boat or shore.
Topwater plugs are typically used for bluefish and are great fun, but take a tip from the folks on the Vineyard who often choose metal lures to gain extra distance around Wasque.
I’ve said it many times before, but July and August call for nighttime fishing if you want to target any larger bass swimming along the southside and Mark Gonsalves, who works at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle, proved that axiom by catching a 33-inch striper on a live eel while fishing the Menauhant Beach area earlier this week. I imagine he was also fishing in stormy conditions that we had this week, which increased his odds.
Otherwise, concentrate on the inlets and channels that proliferate along the southside shorelines in hopes of catching a schoolie or two, as even the small bass find the warming water up inside uninviting and typically concentrate where there is more current and deeper water to allow boats in and out.
Bouncing weighted soft plastic paddletails such as the Hogy Pro Tail Paddles in the deeper water of entrance channels to harbors, bays, and salt ponds has proven to be effective even in the summer. Pick ups may be more subtle than earlier in the season when the bass have just arrived and are feeding ravenously, so braided line is a good option so you can detect even the most delicate pick-ups. Swinging eels in the current is another option, but as Capt. Mike likes to say, “What makes an eel less valuable than a bass in the scheme of things?”
July 18, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The schools of three to four-pound bluefish provide a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing – and if properly bled and iced, they are great on the grill or in a smoker.
Middle Ground and Hedge Fence are two areas to visit if you just want to catch stripers and don’t care about size. I have heard from numerous folks who have had great fun using an assortment of poppers and spooks on the shoals, along with soft plastics in a variety of sizes and colors – as long as it is amber.
What’s fun about the shoals in the sounds is you can target bass and small blues during certain stages of the tide, before switching over to drifting for fluke or sea bass.
The winning fluke in last weekend’s Fluke for Luke tournament out on the Vineyard came from Vineyard Sound, according to Steve Morris, and the waters around Cedar Tree Neck and the Brickyard on the north shore of Martha’s island are known for their populations of sea bass and fluke.
Although catches by the recremercial crew in Vineyard Sound are a fraction of what they once were, there are still some sellable fish being caught on scup or eels at night. There aren’t concentrations of fish such that you can make the same drift over and over a hole or hump and pick up multiple fish; instead, it has been a matter of moving more frequently from spot to spot based on the tide.
The bluefish action is apparently better the farther east you go in Nantucket Sounds, with boats finding them in Succonnesset Shoal and off Popponesset, as well as off of Cotuit down to Craigville Beach.
There are still some small bass up inside Cotuit and Osterville, while Lee Boisvert from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said there were still schoolies slapping around up inside Bass River.
Along with reports of some bluefish off Bass River, Lee said he saw a photo of a bonito that was caught in that area earlier this week.
It’s the same story down around the Harwich rivers and at the mouth of Stage Harbor and Harding’s Beach: small bass, especially in the morning and again in the evening, with some small bluefish mixed in as well.
Lee mentioned that for folks looking for scup and sea bass, the waters around Collier’s and Bishop and Clerks remain better options that the high school reef, with a smattering of fluke around the mouths of the rivers from Yarmouth to Harwich. Overall, though, folks looking for fluke action continue to make the run to the Nantucket Shoals.
Finally, the brown shark fishing is getting more attention from Falmouth to Chatham; fresh bluefish chunks are a great option, along with fresh dead or eels that have been coaxed a little not to twist up the line if they are fished on a rod held in a sand spike.
If you watch any of the videos of folks catching big fluke off of Nantucket, you will notice that the baits they are using are large. Often, they are a combination of fluke belly, squid strips, and some sort of soft plastic. Gulp! Swimming Mullets are a great choice for fluke, but they are even better when combined with natural strip bait. I never thought of this, but I was watching a video about cleaning fluke and they clean a fillet by cutting off the ribbon bones, or at least that’s what they call them, and keep them to freeze for baits the next time they go.
July 11, 2019 Weekly Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Four to five-pound bluefish have arrived in larger numbers and folks who like to smoke them are happy for that, but stripers of size are another matter altogether.
From Middle Ground to Hedge Fence and from Waquoit to Chatham, bluefish are the main topic of discussion this week.
A few small bass are still hanging at MG and HF, typically on the incoming tide, but overall there are far more bluefish being taken by folks casting and trolling.
Off of Nobska and Surf Drive, shore anglers soaking cut bait or tossing eels at night have every reason to think they will be rewarded, but Jim Young at Eastman’s in Falmouth said there really aren’t many people fishing from shore, other than the entrance jetties to Falmouth Harbor, Great Pond, and Waquoit, where they are catching a mix of scup, sea robins, and the occasional northern kingfish.
Popponesset remains very inconsistent for shore anglers, with scattered blues and small bass mainly from dusk into night around the entrance channel, with the waters in the bay starting to warm rapidly.
The word from Shawn Powell at the Sports Port in Hyannis is folks are catching small bluefish from Osterville to Craigville, with Dowses a popular area for choppers as well as scup and northern kingfish.
Amy Wrightson, the head lady at the Sports Port, said she spoke to a couple of boat anglers who found some sizeable fluke off Craigville and then finished up the day by trolling up some blues. Although Horseshoe Shoal is typically a given when it comes to catching bluefish, Amy said she hasn’t heard a word about that area.
Mac from Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said there are bluefish still being caught from the southside beaches in Dennis and Yarmouth; apparently, they have been active from morning to dusk. Boaters obviously have been encountering them as well, especially on an outgoing tide off of Bass River and there are still schoolies up inside, while the rocky structure around Point Gammon to the west probably your best bet for finding any bass over that mid-20-inch class on plugs and soft plastics.
Bluefish are just as active in the Harwich area, as Scotty at Sunrise Bait & Tackle in Harwich Port noted that they have been coming up inside Herring River right in the middle of the day. Bass fishing has definitely slowed, with only a few hardcore flyrodders and light tackle folks picking at schoolies up around the marshes.
Fluke fishing around the mouths of the rivers from Yarmouth to Harwich remains slow, although it’s not that you can’t catch them; instead, they are running well below the 17-inch minimum for the most part.
Paul Newmier told me that he launched at Bass River earlier this week in search of fluke and the two largest fish he caught were 16-inches, with a number of 12 to 14-inch summer flatties as well.
He did pick up some nice sea bass, but the Tire Reef was quiet, with only some small scup there.
According to Scotty, the high school reef off Harwich is holding a solid mix of sea bass and scup, although the size of the sea bass is definitely on the wane as the water warms and they head for deeper water.
Fluke rigs are made in all shapes and sizes, with spinner blades, beads, and all kinds of things to attract them, but high quality bait such as local squid, which some shops get in abundance from draggers or other bait suppliers who jig them up in the spring, really can make a difference. Sand eels are another often overlooked flattie bait, but fresh ones have been very difficult to come by, with some hard core anglers actually taking the time to rake their own, whether they are fishing them for fluke or bouncing them down Monomoy for bass.
June 27, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It may be that fact that the water remains cool for this time of year or the presence of plenty of bait, including sand eels, squid, and sea herring, but the shoals in the sounds continue to fish well, especially Middle Ground and Hedge Fence.
Although the typical fly fishing gig is to toss squid flies, we have done really well tossing popping bugs. It’s a blast watching stripers blast topwater offerings no matter what equipment they are thrown on, but swinging them into the face of the rip on a floating fly line and having multiple fish competing for them is way too much fun.
Slack tide has also been fishing well, with both bass and bluefish sipping and swirling on bait; when the water is not moving and really quiet, the fish are less likely to hit poppers, so a switch to a subsurface fly that imitates sand eels or small unweighted soft plastics on spinning gear will pay dividends.
One of the bluefish we caught had a baby sea herring in its maw, so flies with broader, more flashy/silvery sides might be in order if you are getting refusals. The smaller Hogy Pro Tails come in colors that would be ideal, but sacrificing soft plastics to bluefish might seem sacrilegious. In that case, consider the Charter Grade Poppers or Dog Walker.
Speaking of choppers, Matt Malowski at Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs said that a Vineyard commercial fisherman found enough 6 to 8-pound bluefish at Hedge Fence to produce a decent catch that he could sell this week.
Halfway (L’Hommedieu) has remains popular with the wire line crew, with some of them also snapping wire off of West Chop.
Billy O’Connor at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket told me that the rip off Nobska has had some good bass in it this week, so shore anglers might want to consider tossing eels or big plastics there at night, especially around high water when the fish are more likely to move in close to the rocks.
Otherwise, shore anglers have had to be satisfied with the abundance of small bass in the rivers, harbors, bays, and estuaries, as well as along the sand beaches, that characterize the southside shoreline from Falmouth to Chatham.
Like every other shop that can key you in on what is going on along the southside, the word from Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis is that a few fish at or just above the recreational legal limit have been caught, but it seems that fish of any real size have bypassed Nantucket Sound.
The jetties and other rock structure from Osterville to Hyannis are still holding bass and bluefish, but unlike past patterns, you will have to work harder for the latter as opposed to the former.
Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth reported that shore anglers tossing topwater plugs or soaking bait such as mackerel or pogies have been picking up some bluefish, but there haven’t been any fish on every cast events to speak of.
Capt. Warren Marshall told me that on his way back from Monomoy to Bass River on Wednesday he encountered birds working over surface feeding fish, but his anglers were too arm weary to stop and cast to check out what they were. That said, given that they had not caught any bluefish all day, Warren suspects they were bass.
The fluke bite in the sounds isn’t anything to write home about, although Chuck and Evan Eastman managed four legal fish among the many undersized summer flatties they caught while fishing Middle Ground.
Hedge Fence and Succonnesset have also been holding mostly small fish, while Lee told me that folks fishing off the mouths of Bass River and the rivers in Harwich have only been picking up an occasional fish they can take home.
In fact, he suggested that even the Monomoy shoals haven’t been fishing great, with your best bet heading east and south of Nantucket. Jeff Willard at The Sports Port in Hyannis had an angler come in with fluke of 9.5 and 8.5-pounds which very well could have come from one of the fluke trips that the Helen H. boats out of Hyannis rum to these waters.
Matt Malowski on the Vineyard said the third annual Fluke for Luke tournament, in memory of well-known and well-liked island commercial fisherman Luke Gurney, will be held on Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7, so it will be interesting to see what that increased effort will result in.
Meanwhile, some folks believe the water is still too cold; I marked 61.8-degree surface temperatures at Middle Ground midweek, which seems a bit chilly for this time of year.
Sea bass fishing remains very good, with Jim Young reporting solid fishing on three to four-pound fish in the deeper water around L’Hommedieu, as well as Hedge Fence, Succonnesset, and Collier’s Ledge.
One of my friends told me that he managed to put one of the treble hooks on a plug through the nail on his thumb twice this week. Not only is this painful, especially if you haven’t flattened the barb, but avoidable for the most part. My bass plugs now only sport one set of trebles or an inline single on the head (or the front belly hanger if it has two) with a flag on the back, while with those I use on bluefish only carrying a single tail hook, typically a Siwash or inline design.
June 20, 2019 Weekly Rating: 5 out of 5
As we get deeper in June, the predictable pattern is that the shoals begin to slow west to east, but there are still enough quality fish around to make folks happy between Falmouth/Mashpee and the Vineyard.
There’s just so much information to pass on that I can feel my fingers cramping just at the thought, but let’s go.
My buddy Capt. Warren Marshall fished Middle Ground yesterday, especially way west, and said there were far more 3 to 4-pound bluefish around, with terns giving away their presence. The bass are definitely on the small side and I have seen far more activity this week that suggests they are feeding on baby squid or sand eels.
A few of the local charterboats have been picking at 40+-inch bass using wire and jigs off of West Chop, but Kevin Downs at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket told me that folks who prefer to troll light outfits with braid or lead core have been catching bass around MG on bone Hogy’s, Finnish style white swimming plugs, and small bucktails.
The one fluke report I received from Middle Ground consisted of one trip to the west end, where Evan and Chuck Eastman caught about 30 fish, but only one of which topped the 17-inch recreational minimum.
Hedge Fence continues to have plenty of life, with the presence of terns a good sign that the bass and bluefish on this shoal are feeding on sand eels. A local flyrodder reported that on Tuesday there were more bass than you could imagine, but the pickings have been much slimmer the last couple of days.
This shoal is one of Jim Young’s favorite black sea bass spots and it didn’t disappoint last week with a number of 20+-inch fish. Jim also hooked up with what he suspected was a nice fluke, but it evaded capture.
Working our way east, the aforementioned Capt. Marshall fished Succonesset Shoal as part of Wednesday’s fishing and managed to catch what he called “some of the largest sea bass” he has ever seen. He also picked up three nice fluke over 20-inches and dropped a larger one as a net wasn’t available.
He added that there were bluefish in the rips, but nothing in the way of bass, a distinct change from a couple of weeks ago when this area was alive with stripers.
Small bass rule the scene for shore anglers in the Falmouth and Mashpee area, while schools of bluefish in 3 to 4-pound range are providing action around Popponesset, Oregon Beach, and Dowse for both shore and boat anglers.
Bob Lewis described an interesting scenario for me; on Tuesday, he fished the Three Bays area with noted global fly angler and artist Jeff Currier. They managed to wake up a couple of schoolies before heading over to the Vineyard, but then the action died. They also experienced the same thing with the small bluefish they found.
Speaking off Jeff, he has caught over 400 species of fish on the fly and added a black sea bass and a sea robin to his count, calling the latter “the coolest fish he has seen,” according to Bob. In fact, he took a large number of photos of what most people consider a pest fish and I, for one, can’t wait to see what his painting of one looks like.
With Monomoy going off this week, the odds are that most of the Hyannis charterboat fleet will be heading that way. There should still be decent numbers of bass there for folks trolling squid imitations; the Hogy Perfect Squid is an upgrade on the classic Hootchie Squid which was perhaps the top producing lure for bass and blues in this area.
Speaking of bluefish, I have heard that a few have shown up at Horseshoe Shoal, but the general consensus is that schools of smaller blues have been moving in and out around, while a mix of bass and blues have been reported in the Point Gammon area.
Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said that the blues are actually keeping people happy around West Dennis Beach, with high water around dusk an excellent combination for catching them.
Over at Sunrise Bait & Tackle in Harwich Port, Scotty said that along with the schools of blues running up and down from Hyannis to Harwich, the schoolie fishing remains strong for shore and boat anglers. He added that the opportunity to catch a larger bass is also improving around the mouths of rivers such as Bass, Red, and Herring. Bait such as chunk mackerel and squid are good choices, while topwater plugs and paddletail soft plastics are effective artificial offerings.
When it comes to sizeable fluke, Scotty recommended checking out the shoals in the sounds, but he did say that you are going to have to go through a good number of sublegal fish to pick up one or two to take home.
On the other hand, sea bass and scup angling remains strong, although folks keep telling me that the BSB are larger from Hyannis west.
Now that more folks are fluke fishing, it is a good idea to avoid the major mea culpa of the summer flattie angler: forgetting to bring a net. More big fluke, and actually fluke of any size, are lost when folks try to lift them out of the water into the boat. Keeping the fish in the water and leading it into the net, which is kept submerged, is the way to go. Avoid jabbing at the fish with the net from above, as well, as it is far too common to knock the fish off the hook.
June 14, 2019 Weekly Rating: 5 out of 5
The shoals continue to fish well, with some even seeing some larger fish, like this beautiful bass that brought a big smile to Jonathan Gitlin’s face.
After a number of subpar seasons in the sounds the last several years, it really is great to see so much life in the sounds.
On the shoals between Falmouth/Mashpee and the Vineyard, there are large numbers of bass in the 24 to 26-inch range with enough topping 30-inches to keep both casters and trollers interested.
Chartreuse or white continue to be hot parachute colors for the wire line gang, who have been working the waters off West Chop and on Halfway Shoal, while Christian Giardini at Falmouth Bait & Tackle caught plenty of schoolies at Middle Ground earlier this week trolling soft plastics on light tackle outfits. He added that there were also large numbers of small, three to four-pound bluefish in the mix.
Success for the casting crew at Middle Ground has definitely been current dependent, with the west apparently more productive this week. Succonesset has a nice mix of bass and bluefish as well.
Bishop and Clerks isn’t red hot, but trolling squid imitations, like the Hogy Perfect Squid, is fin
ally picking up some quality fish amongst the heavier concentration of mid to high 20-inch bass.
Amy Wrightson from the Sports Port in Hyannis has spoken to some of his regular customers who have been picking at smaller schools of bluefish from Cotuit to Craigville, with topwater plugs and metal jigs equally effective.
The word from Scotty at Sunrise Bait & Tackle in Harwich Port is that there aren’t huge concentrations of bluefish in the waters between Bass River and Harwich, but they have been there for several weeks, providing solid topwater action on light tackle.
Bluefish activity seems to have picked up for the beach crew this week; Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth said that some have been caught at Menauhant and South Cape Beach, but anglers are still catching more small bass in the ponds and inlets, as well as along the open beaches, on everything from soft plastics and metals to bucktails and plugs.
Amy Wrightson said that Oregon Beach and Dowses have both been good, with the blues also mixing in with bass up inside the Three Bays area. A few larger stripers have been caught at night, as well, on plugs and plastics.
It was encouraging to hear that the bluefish activity has increased around West Dennis Beach, as well as Sea Gull and Sea View. Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said the schoolie bass are still around in good numbers up inside Bass River and the other backwaters in Yarmouth and Dennis.
I had a great talk with Scotty at Sunrise and he said all of the rivers in Harwich are holding bass, with some of the largest ones well up inside the marshes.
No matter whom I talked to along the southside, black sea bass and scup were major topics of conversation. Jim Young went out last Sunday and picked up his five fish limit just a short trip from Waquoit; included were two fish just shy of four-pounds and he was releasing 20-inch fish in hopes of getting another big one, but he had to “settle” for one just over 20-inches. At one point, Jim had sea bass on the top and bottom hooks of one of his custom rigs, with a scup in between on the middle hook.
Lee Boisvert said that the tire reef off Harwich is holding a mix of scup and sea bass, but folks looking for larger BSB have been making the run to Collier’s Ledge and other patches of hard bottom structure to the west.
With increased numbers of bluefish by boat and from the beaches, it’s definitely a wise idea to go with plugs or metals that feature a single tail hook with the barb crushed down. Being able to grab the plug body without fear of driving a free swinging hook into your hand is definitely a good thing for you and a single, barbless hook makes releasing fish much easier and cleaner. Hogy’s new Charter Grade Squid Plugs feature this hook configuration and come in both floating and slow sinking models. As much fun as watching a blue explode on a surface plug, at times when they are being finicky, using an offering that works subsurface can work wonders.
June 6, 2019 Weekly Rating: 4 out of 5
It looks like some larger bass have moved into the sounds recently, making shore and boat anglers alike very happy.
No matter what shoal you visit in the sounds, you are going to find bass; that’s the word on the street and my experiences have been confirmed this general sentiment.
Whether you visit Middle Ground, L’Hommedieu/Halfway, Hedge Fence, Succonesset, or the series of rips that run down Vineyard Sound, you are 99.9% sure of catching stripers. That may not be large, but they will be some of the fattest fish you will catch as they are often gorging on squid.
I fished MG with Palo Pierce and his lady friend, Elizabeth “Biff” Ryan, along with Palo’s dad who shares the same first name, and on the first cast of the day, Biff put a 30-inch bass in the boat using a bubblegum 10-inch Original Hogy. Now, I am a big believer in the “first cast curse”, but there were so many fish in the rip that my concern proved to be unfounded. It was one of those days when it seemed that there wasn’t a moment when someone wasn’t hooked up, whether we stayed with the Hogy’s or turned to white pencil poppers. Other folks were doing well with the fly rod, whether they were actually casting or just sitting there jigging the fly.
Andy Little said that the water is still too cold for Bishop and Clerks to turn on, while I couldn’t turn up any news on spots to the east.
Shore anglers are still picking up mainly smaller bass from Falmouth to Chatham, but the early morning and night crew have managed enough fish in the 30 to 36-inch class from the jetties and channels to keep them coming back. The general consensus is that tossing soft plastics is the top option, with metal lip and Finnish style swimmers preferred by a select group of pluggers.
Along with Oregon Beach, the word from Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth is that some more bluefish are being caught off West Dennis Beach, as well as down Harwich way.
Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis has spoken to a few boaters who have encountered a school or two of bluefish, mainly when they are trolling for bass on one of the shoals. A few lucky folks have also run into concentrations on top, but no area has been consistently productive.
The black sea bass bite is slowing down a bit, at least in terms of size, although Jim Young shared news of a 6+-pound specimen caught by one of the crew on a Patriot Party Boat; apparently, they have found a channel that is holding larger fish and are keeping it to themselves, rightfully so.
Lee explained that while the tire reef is holding good numbers of sea bass, they are generally on the small side, so boaters are making the run to Collier’s Ledge or other spots off Hyannis and Osterville.
Although we are on the backside of a new moon on June 3, the warm, sunny weather this weekend combined with a late afternoon ebb sounds like a worm hatch scenario. I, for one, can’t wait to try Mike’s new Worm Hatch plastics on my ultralight six-pound test outfits, although I won’t go out without my fly rod on board. I may even combine a Hogy with a fly teaser to increase my odds.
May 30, 2019 Weeky Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
I wish I had more positive things to say about the sounds, but other than good numbers of sublegal bass, a few sporadic catches of bluefish, and solid sea bass fishing, fishing has been kind of “Eh!”
Middle Ground, Succonesset, Halfway – all of these shoals have been holding mainly schoolies, with the occasional 30 to 34-inch bass. Poppers, squid flies, and soft plastics have all been working, but with all of the weed in the water, the plastics allow for a mostly weedless presentation. If you haven’t heard yet, bone, bubblegum, and amber Hogy’s in seven and ten-inch Originals are a good place to start during spring squid season. That said, some folks have told me that they didn’t see any signs of squid in the rips at times and overall pretty much everyone is saying that the run this spring was disappointing.
The deeper water around the shoals has also been filled with sea bass, which have been a good alternative when anglers get tired of reeling in schoolies. Pretty much every piece of structure in the sounds is holding them and in many places they are mixed in with large schools of scup.
Shore anglers have also had little problem finding schoolie bass, and if I had the time, I would like to fish every backwater from Falmouth to Chatham next week to see which ones didn’t hold small fish because I don’t think I could find many that aren’t holding at least a few. The search for larger fish has been a tough one, with early mornings using topwater plugs and nights with weighted soft plastics, particularly paddletails, both on the beaches and in the entrance channels, the top angling techniques if you have bigger fish on your mind.
Bob Lewis said he fished a worm match on Monday inside Cotuit and I mentioned that it was interesting that it fell well outside both the full and new moon cycles. Like many other folks who enjoy fishing worm events, Bob believes that they appear on warm, sunny days in the afternoon. In some minds, a late afternoon outgoing or low tide help warm up the mud and get those Nereis moving and grooving.
There have also been some bluefish caught at Oregon Beach and Dowses, but South Cape Beach and Popponesset have both been disappointing. A few were jigged up over the holiday weekend at Middle Ground, but this has been the second or third season in a row when the choppers haven’t shown in appreciable numbers. If you have any theories as to why this is the case or information from the fisheries folks, I would love to hear them or it.
Given my allegiance to Hogy products, I hate to do it, but one of the top choices when targeting big sea bass is to use pink or chartreuse bucktail jigs – all by themselves, with no bait or other added sweetener.
According to Bob Lewis, however, the stubs or stumps you are left with after a bluefish chops off the tail end of a ten or fourteen-inch Hogy make great black sea bass baits. Bright colors also seem to have an advantage.
May 24, 2019 Weekly Report:
I’m not sure you could find more bass activity in the sounds than there is right now. What folks are finding might not be huge, but there sure are a lot smiles.
Capt. Mike Hogan made the run to Middle Ground yesterday and the rip was alive with bass, squid, and birds. Most of the fish were in the low to mid-20-inch class, with enough above the legal 28-inch minimum to keep things interesting.
Hogy Charter Grade Squid Plug Available Here
From there, he headed to the wrecks off Oak Bluffs for some sea bassing and he wasn’t disappointed as there were huge numbers of BSB, including some impressive purple or knot heads, a label that some folks give to the big males that sport distinctive bright coloration and a bump on their heads during spawning season. With the wind moving with the tide, Mike found it necessary to use a heavier, four-ounce Herring Jig to maintain contact and feel a fish hit.
Hogy Herring Jig Available Here
On the way back in, Mike checked out Halfway Shoal, but it was slack tide, and although he had marks on his machine that looked like bigger bass, his jig was covered up by sea bass as it moved through the water column on the drop.
Farther east, Charlie Richmond, Bruce Cunningham, and Ken Cirillo had a great day at Succonesset Shoal in the slop, with a scenario similar to what Mike encountered at MG. Stemming the tide and letting soft plastics or rip flies drift back into the rip faces or casting them there, they had schoolies on the entire time they were there.
Bob Lewis told me that he spoke to another member of the Osterville Anglers’ Club who fished there during the club’s first tournament of the season and he had non-stop action as well, albeit on slightly larger bass.
It’s interesting that none of the reports I received from boaters who fished Nantucket Sound included any bluefish as this spring is shaping up to be another disappointing one for choppers.
The bass fishing for shore bound anglers just might be at its springtime peak, with everybody talking about catching bass from Falmouth Harbor to the rivers in Harwich and up inside Chatham. A perfect example is what Evan Eastman encountered earlier this week fishing one of the entrance jetties to Great Pond in Falmouth, as he caught about two dozen bass up to the mid-20-inch class using a white soft plastic/jighead combination and he pretty much had a fish on every cast he made.
What has been most interesting is the number of worm hatches that folks reported from last weekend through the earlier part of this week. Overall, it has been a banner year for worm events and the fish have generally been pretty cooperative as opposed to the finicky nature they often display when they are slurping worms. Spin anglers have said they caught good numbers of fish on white soft plastics, plugs, and the traditional casting bubble/worm fly combination.
Fly anglers, of course, live for worm hatches and Bob Lewis did well on Monday up inside Cotuit, although at first, his fishing partner that day, Dave Palmer, was doing better using a foam pattern created by worm whisperer Woody Mills of Mashpee. Eventually, the fish found Bob’s yarn pattern to their liking as well and he once again noted that using fly floatant to keep his bug on the surface was key. He also noted that Woody ties his foam fly, as well as his other creations, on a long shank hook, thereby increasing his hook-up ratio since the bass often nip at the tail of the worms during a hatch.
Elise Costa said there were a few bluefish taken around Oregon Beach earlier this week, but overall it seems like the scenes where everybody on the beach was holding a rod bent over with a fish are just memories.
It’s the same story from West Dennis Beach to Harwich; Lee Boisvert at Riverview Bait & Tackle in South Yarmouth said bluefish have almost been non-existent down his way, but fortunately the bass fishing has been good along the beaches and up inside the rivers and harbors.
Although surface presentations are a lot of fun when targeting bass and bluefish in the rips, when the wind and white water are really going, a top water plug can be bounced around, resulting in missed hits because of slack in the line. Increasing the speed of retrieve might help, but at times the fish want a slower presentation.
For that reason, Hogy makes its new Squid Plug in both floating and sinking models and it was the latter that Capt. Mike used on Thursday when fishing Middle Ground. The bass wanted a dead drift presentation and the increased weight of the sinking version allowed Mike to swing it and stay in contact and get good hook-ups.
May 17, 2019 Weekly Report:
John Waring at Eastman’s said there are schoolies pretty much in all of the protected waters from Falmouth to Mashpee. He has seen people fishing off the jetties at Great Pond every afternoon and one of them, an angler visiting from New Jersey, told John that he did well using topwater plugs on schoolies up to 30-inches. That said, he noticed that the fishermen on the opposite jetty were doing even better with white soft plastics, so he came in and picked up some Hogy Pro Tail Paddles in bone, an excellent choice for fishing inlets.
Bourne’s Pond has undergone some dredging recently and John advised that the work seems to have helped the fishing, based on reports from folks who have been catching good numbers of schoolies.
Up inside Waquoit, there have been some worm hatches; Jim Young spoke to one angler who typically fishes up inside the bay in the early spring using plugs and he has done well at night. On one trip, he happened upon a worm hatch, with bass waiting at the end of a spillway where they were happily slurping up the “bugs.”
There have also been reports of worm events up inside Popponesset and Cotuit, but no matter whether one is going on or not, there are plenty of bass to be caught, especially on the outgoing tide. Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis advised using white soft plastics and smaller white plugs, with flyrodders able to stick with basic Clousers and Deceivers in some combination of chartreuse, olive, and white.
Bob Lewis fished a really nice worm hatch a week ago up inside the Three Bays area; while he did well with the fly rod, he noted that a couple of kids were catching plenty of fish using what looked like small soft plastics.
Evan Eastman and a couple of his buddies went out with his dad, Capt. Chuck, on Wednesday, hoping to troll up some bass or even a blue. Unfortunately, the waters around Poppy were filled with weed and Middle Ground was devoid of life, so they elected to do some bottom fishing. Apparently, what they experienced bodes well for another banner black sea bass season.
A few small bluefish have been caught from Loop Beach all the way up inside as far as Prince Cove, but the action hasn’t been consistent by any means. Given the colder water and lack of squid, odds are that we just might be facing another so-so southside spring bluefish run.
The word from Mac at Riverview Bait & Tackle is that Bass River is living up to its name, with plenty of schoolies from the entrance all the way up to the Route 6 bridge. The largest striper they have heard of or seen is 34-inches, but there have also been an increasing number of fish over the 28-inch minimum.
There are large numbers of big scup in the sound, but they have scattered the schools of squid, making it more difficult to pinpoint any concentrations. Recreational folks fishing between Osterville and Hyannis have managed to jig up enough to make a trip worthwhile. Draggers, on the other hand, have had a very up-and-down season.
The tautog bite has been steady at Collier’s Ledge and off of other pieces of hard structure, but there have so many sea bass stealing the green crabs that anglers use to target tog, frustration has been an issue at times. Of course, Saturday is opening day for sea bass, so having a healthy population throughout the sounds should make a lot of people happy.
The rivers and bays in Dennis and Harwich are also filled with schoolie bass, with the occasional larger fish mixed in as well. From what I gather, nobody is using bait since there is no reason to fish anything but artificials, given how feisty the bass have been.
Pretty much anyone who has fished or seen a worm hatch (which actually is a mating activity, but what’s in a name?) recognizes the characteristic movement of the worms as they come to the surface and spread their eggs and milt. They key element is surface and that makes flies tied with yarn very popular, but the problem with this material is it soaks up water, causing a fly to sink. Now, there are a number of worm patterns out there that feature foam or spun deer hair as a way of staying on top, but my friend Bob Lewis told me that he has been using a substance this is commonly used by freshwater flyrodders: fly floatant. There are plenty of brands out there and they have worked just fine in the salt chuck, Bob said.