Bass fishing in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds has definitely slowed, with most boats leaving from southside ports heading for Monomoy or the islands.
I received a report about some schoolies, along with small three to five-pound bluefish, around Succonesset, while pretty much anyone having success at Middle Ground is getting there before first light and leaving before the fleet shows up, or they are going back at dusk. Small bluefish have also been reported at Hedge Fence.
Horseshoe Shoal has definitely been a disappointment as far as the numbers of bluefish being caught; on the plus side, some of them have been on the larger side. With no real concentrations of fish, plugging to find a school has been ineffective, while jigging wire with chartreuse/white parachutes or trolling swimming plugs by Rapala, Bomber, and Yo-zuri, especially deep diving types that troll more effectively than those with shorter lips.
Jeff Clabault from Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 reported that folks were catching small, one to three-pound bluefish off of South Cape Beach and the Popponesset spit this week, while Amy Wrightson from The Sports Port in Hyannis had the same new regarding Dowses, where they were mixed in with some schoolie bass.
Generally speaking, any sizeable bass, and in this case we are talking about fish just at or slightly over the 28-inch minimum, have been caught in the entrance channels to the numerous bays, harbors, and salt ponds along the southside, mainly because of cooler, deeper water and the presence of more bait. Jeff said that the entrance to Popponesset Bay has been the most consistent spot where a legal fish or two has been caught, mainly on bait or jigs bounced along the bottom.
That said, Jeff did hear from the folks who were catching those small blues at South Cape and Poppy that at least one legal bass was caught while they were there.
The most prevalent fish being caught from the beaches both along the sound and inside any protected waters all along the southside continues to be scup. It’s interesting to note that I have spoken to a number of parents who wanted to catch something other than scup “for their kids,” but my experience has generally been that youngsters are happy catching anything. Scup give a very good accounting of themselves on light tackle and they provide plenty of action, which is probably the most important thing when you are taking kids fishing. There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to catch some schoolies or even small bluefish, but nothing can turn anyone off from fishing than long hours with nothing happening.
With the lack of bass action from the beaches, more sand people have turned to fishing for sharks from the southside beaches. These can be sizeable fish, with brown sharks and other species certainly more of a handful and more dangerous than your typical dogfish or “sand shark” as they are often called. It takes heavy tackle to land one of them, especially from the beach, and many of them are protected, so make sure you know your regulations.
As an aside, with the lack of bass activity even affecting local charter businesses, one captain that Jeff knows has turned to fishing for sharks from his boat close to shore.
Bluefish continue to be scarce from the beaches between West Dennis Beach and Stage Harbor, although early mornings will sometimes see schools of small ones come within casting range down off of Harding Beach, with small bass caught from the Harding side of the entrance channel to Stage as well as from the Morris Island side.
The action on the tire reef and the Harwich High reef, as well as off Hyannis around Collier’s and other popular pieces of structure consists mainly of scup and sea bass, with the occasional fluke thrown in.
Speaking of summer flatties, from Falmouth to Chatham, both shore and boat anglers are doing better than in past years, although the number of throwbacks to legal (17-inch or larger) ones is still in favor of the former. Paul Newmier fished out of Bass River earlier this week and despite some rough seas, managed to catch 20 fluke, with six of them legal recreational fish.