The Sounds Fishing Report – June 14, 2019

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.

Jonathan Gitlin proved this week that some big bass have shown up in the southside shoals.

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 finally picking up some quality fish amongst the heavier concentration of mid to high 20-inch bass.

On the large side of the schoolie scale, this striper was picked up with the Hogy Originals.

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.

A nice striper taken out of the Vineyard Sound this week.

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.

Max Hogan with a nice sea bass caught on the Hogy Herring Jig in the sounds this past Memorial Day Weekend.

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.

Capt. Mike with with a schoolie-sized stiper caught on the new Hogy Squid Plug.

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.

Capt. Mike with a legal-sized Sea Bass, caught on the Hogy Herring Jig.

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.