Capt. Dave Peros: Fall Fishing Begins To Percolate Around Cape
By: Captain Dave Peros, September 24, 2013
There is nothing quite as important in my fishing world as the peace of the early mornings before I actually meet up with my fellow anglers and get to the day’s challenge of finding a few willing bass, blues, or what we have on the docket for the day.
For me, that means rising at 3 AM, if I have scheduled the start of our fishing adventure at 5 AM. I typically take Maeve Macree, who is still technically a pup since she is only 8 months old, out to do her business, while Riley offers a wag of her tail and a sleepy groan as she is well past the age of having to visit the back yard at such an ungodly hour.
A few cookies for both dogs and they are ready for some more sleep, as is Kate who does not share my enthusiasm for the hours before sunrise. I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world and I knew that mornings would always represent a challenge for Kate, and a few muffled words and a kiss are all I need to get my day going.
Although I blend up a healthy, organic protein-packed breakfast drink before leaving the house, I look forward to grabbing a cup of coffee and some blueberry Pop-Tarts, which represent the breakfast of champions to me, at the local 7-Eleven.
I might need a few more bags of ice to fill the cooler, but overall I don’t have much to do after loading the rods, plug box, and Hogy bags on board, or the dry bag containing my fly paraphernalia and stripping buckets, which are really leaf collection buckets in disguise, if the trip involves waving the long wand.
That leaves me time enough to sit, drink my coffee, and enjoy the stillness of the world before it awakens to the bustle of human activity. Watching the stars is truly a treat, as are those mornings when the moon is still high in the sky, and even those days that start with the hint of rain and wind moving the leaves and flags are worth getting up early for.
Unfortunately, this past Sunday a captain who docks his boat at the commercial pier in Woods Hole decided that it was acceptable to interrupt my little bit of serenity and spew invective in my direction.
Obviously, I struck a discordant tone with this individual in some of my recent columns regarding fisheries management. Although it is convenient to call me anti-commercial, I believe anyone who pays attention to my words and makes an attempt to understand them realizes that I am opposed to all the flaws in the system, including those that pertain to commercial and recreational anglers as well as scientists, managers, and bureaucrats. Waste and abuse of our limited marine resources from any sector are an anathema to me and neither swearing nor threatening me will change my view; in fact, that kind of conduct only convinces me more that individuals who refuse to accept any responsibility for the current problems are the greatest roadblock that have to be removed in order to make any progress.
There is good news though. Fall fishing is starting to percolate with solid reports from all quadrants of the compass.
Island Derby Will Bring Anglers Out
The word from Jim Young is that Capt. Eric Stapelfeld found a solid mix of bass and blues at Wasque last weekend, one of the few times this season that Jim has had a good report from the shoals, while Capt. Stapelfeld’s protégés made it out to the Hooter and had a mixed bag of a 20-pound bass, some decent blues, and a number of bonito.
Jim also heard of a few bonito being caught at Middle Ground by casters, while the occasional bone has been trolled up at Hedge Fence.
While I was talking to Jim, Phil Stanton walked in and provided some info, including news that the Elizabeths have been a pick recently, with the best action for Phil occurring around low water, with his guests picking up bass between 16 and 21 pounds on live eels tossed right into shore.
With the Martha’s Vineyard Derby also in full swing, you might encounter competition for prime locations, as boat competitors in the grand dame of fishing contests around the Cape and islands quite often prefer anchoring up along our local archipelago and chumming and chunking pogies.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that given the size of the bait along the islands, which is mainly one-inch bay anchovies, some silversides, and small sea herring, it would only make sense that a hungry bass would jump all over a big bait.
Kevin Gould added that chunking is also producing around Devil’s Bridge, with one of the greatest challenges getting fresh pogies.
With some good tides along the south side running through last weekend, Jeff Clabault was disappointed overall with the lack of larger bass around Popponesset; he fished there and managed some small schoolies that basically played around with the live eel he was throwing. Jeff also heard of a few bluefish caught in Poppy, as well as a 30-inch striper on a pencil popper at the entrance to Waquoit and some bigger bass inside Cotuit.
You know, it may be possible that someone is out there in Buzzards Bay having a good laugh as they have massive schools of albies all to themselves, but I’m more inclined to believe Mike Thomas who had not heard of any funny fish recently and was beginning to wonder if there are going to be any in the eastern portions of the bay at all this year.
Anglers have been picking up a few good bass working the deeper edges of the Cape Cod Canal, but Mike said even that action has been slower than he expected.
On the other hand, the tautog bite has picked up, with commercial anglers for the most part getting close to their limit of 40 fish per day, and there are more boats looking for the toothsome ones along the Elizabeths. You are going to have to work a bit harder for sizeable sea bass as there are plenty of small ones to cull through, both in the sounds and B-Bay, with Kevin Gould reporting that folks are still encountering sea bass blitzes.
Jim Young spent a good deal of his time on Sunday releasing sublegal sea bass, but he has heard of some good fishing on humps east of Oak Bluffs, where there are schools of larger fish to be found.
I was fortunate enough to be present when Bruce Miller weighed in a 33.2-pound bass for Tommy, one of the Canal regulars who have been encountering some very impressive bass at night. Bruce had weighed in a 41.5-pounder earlier in the week and confirmed that live eel fishing at night has been particularly good recently, with one of the challenges being getting the snakes down to the level where the largest fish have been holding. The slack tide turn has been a good time to be at your favorite hole, with a cooler full of eels and an assortment of rubbercore sinkers, and perhaps even a few egg sinkers.
There had been a very brief flurry of topwater action earlier in the week, with Guppy green mackerel pencils working well when you find fish working bait on the surface, but what had the rats licking their chops were thoughts of the breaking tides that started yesterday. It meant getting up in the wee hours to catch a 3:56 east turn, but given the size of the bass that have been in Cape Cod Bay and the very real possibility of them pushing into the land cut, well, you know.
Bull MacKinnon emphasized that until then, besides fishing at night with eels, anglers who were getting down were experiencing the best catching-and that doesn’t mean partying! Jigs, whether those combined with soft plastics or old school bucktails, were productive, as well as heavily loaded Cotton Cordell pencils. The south shore, from Plymouth on up, is also loaded with big stripers and bait in the form of sea herring, tinker mackerel, and pogies, and Bull, along with his cronies, is hoping that the fish find a reason to move down and through the Big Ditch, as opposed to migrating across Cape Cod Bay and around Provincetown.
When it comes to CCB, Tuesday’s blow kept folks at the dock, chomping at the bit for another chance at the big bass that have been moving between the east entrance of the Canal and Sandy Neck. At times, these schools have been pinning the bait up against the beaches, giving shore anglers a real shot at a fish of a lifetime.
Key Is Putting In The Time
Jeff Clabault acknowledged that this action has been hit-or-miss, and just a day after visiting Old Harbor and dealing with schoolies not much bigger than the eels he was using, he changed venues to the East Sandwich area and managed a 39-pound fish using a snake. Jeff has heard similar stories from other folks and advised that the key has been putting in your time.
Boaters pitching eels have often been so close to the mouths of the Sandwich creeks and the beaches that they are competing for the same water as their shorebound brethren, particularly from dusk to dawn, with anglers trolling the tube-and-worm finding better action during the day in slightly deeper water, with black or orange hot colors.
Jim Young heard from Capt. John Galvin on Tuesday and he was preparing for a trip to the canyons, but the most recent reports Jim could offer concerned good action on tuna, both yellowfin and longfin albacore, some marlin, and a few wahoo out at the Shipping Lanes. Art Crago, who is readying for his annual Vineyard Derby fishing adventure, told Jim that he and a couple of other anglers went out to the lanes last week and did very well catching mahi-mahi on fly rods and light tackle.
If you happen to be one of those anglers who is immune to the bite of the saltwater game and prefer to spend your time in the sweetwater, then cooler nights are good news since dropping water temperatures bring trout closer to shore. Bass fishing remains consistent as well, with Jeff assuring me that there are no guarantees in fishing, but if he had to bet his life on catching a freshwater bass, he would stake his claim on Shawme Pond.