I want to give a big shout out to Evan Eastman, who is now in charge of Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street, for providing some encouraging news about shore fishing. It has pretty much been grim news all summer long, but Evan had three instances that suggest things are on an upswing.
First off, he spoke to one angler who managed a half-dozen fish pitching live eels into the entrance channels of the southside ponds in Falmouth at night. The largest bass was just shy of legal size, which is good news because that suggests that something other than mini-schoolies are moving in to feed on the peanut bunker that has been flowing out of the backwaters, based on what folks have told me.
Another fisherman told Evan that he caught a nice bass fishing squid around Nobska at night, while a third had been catching plenty of stripers from shore in Woods Hole using plugs, including a big chartreuse spook.
Elsewhere, along with reports of occasional spurts of small bluefish from South Cape Beach to Craigville, Shawn Powell from the Sports Port in Hyannis told me that he was fishing for scup at Dowses earlier this week when a school of nice-sized bluefish in the six- to 10-pound class pinned a school of pogies tight to shore, providing some exciting action.
Speaking of scup, the average shore-caught fish is definitely on the smaller side, but Shawn advised that along with the four- to six-inchers, he caught enough legal fish up to 13 inches to make for a good day of fishing.
As far as the boat crowd goes, bottom fishing for scup is definitely providing the most consistent action for groundfish for dinner.
It’s the same story for sea bass; a couple of guys came in last Sunday and said, while inshore there was nothing but sub-legal sea bass, those folks working the northside of the Vineyard to Noman’s have been catching plenty of fish for the table.
Overall, fluke fishing remains a bummer in the sounds, with far more sub-legal fish than those that can be taken home for the dinner table. Evan said that using larger baits is the way to go, with the big (six-inch) Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullets in the new Salmon Red color proving very effective.
In upper Buzzards Bay, folks are picking at some fluke, said Tommy at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay. A friend of his got three nice fish drifting the Mashnee Flats and working the edges of the Canal. A combination of natural baits such as squid strips, silversides, and sand eels is always a good way to go, and some folks add a Gulp! Swimming Mullets, with chartreuse and pearl remaining popular colors.
Many successful fluke anglers prefer to use a leadhead jig of some sort to get their rig down as opposed to a simply bank sinker, but to fish really deep water and fast-moving current, it is often difficult to come up with a jig that is heavy enough to do the job.
But Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore suggested that I take a look at Joe Bagg’s Flukies and Nantucket Fluke Series, both of which are offered in sizes up to five ounces.
After a bit of a slowdown in the Canal earlier the week during the daylight hours, Bruce Miller told me that with a new set of east-turning tides starting on Wednesday well before first light, things should turn on.
Sure enough, Tommy heard that something was going on from the railroad bridge east, with white plugs and paddletails producing in the overcast conditions.
There are good numbers of small mackerel in the Big Ditch, and that has made the 7.5-inch Magic Swimmers a more popular choice than the larger ones, advised A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay. Green mackerel is typically hard to beat, but there are variations that many folks swear by, including Wacky Mac and blue mackerel.
Bruce showed me a new color from Al Gag’s called Mountain Doo Mac, which is really a kind of multi-colored mackerel, but in a soft plastic paddle, something the Millers had already introduced themselves in their Canal Sand Eel series earlier this year. This coloration includes a mixed green, chartreuse, yellow, pink, and blue, which makes them popular because they cover the bases of mackerel colorations that the fish key on at different times in the Canal.
If the daytime bite in the land cut turns on big time, then the crowds and nastiness should return as well, but Bruce told me there was still a good late afternoon/night bite with jigs and swimmers when everyone was saying that there were only schoolies around.
It’s the same story out in Cape Cod Bay; most folks there are frustrated by all of the 18- to 24-inch bass, with some of them turning to fishing for bluefish instead, said Elise Costa at The Powderhorn in Hyannis. Many of the larger blues have been caught from Sunken Meadow up to Wellfleet, and there are good numbers of 20-plus-inch bonito being caught, as well.
The word from Shawn Powell is that Barnstable Harbor is starting to produce some legal-sized bass on the tube-and-worm among all the schoolies; red and orange have been the top colors, the same tones that tubers are using around the parking lot and Sandy Neck. The big fish bite at Scorton Ledge, if it occurs, typically takes off in September, but this might be a lead in.
From Sandwich to Barnstable, the beaches and creeks are holding mostly schoolies as well, but there are times when some larger fish do move in under the cover of darkness or on days with inclement weather, as there was earlier this week. Tossing pencil poppers and spooks at these times can result in great topwater action, but eels and swimmers fished at night are still a more consistent producer when bass move in tight.
The recremercial fleet will most likely be haunting the west entrance to the Canal in hopes that some of the larger fish in the land cut move out into open water during the latter stages of the west tide and turn to the east.
Rory Edwards from Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket said that the one charter boat captain he spoke to said that pretty much everyone is scratching for small bass in the sounds, with only a couple of 30-inch fish being caught per trip.
Live eels continue to account for the largest number of take-’em-home bass along the Elizabeths, with plenty of schoolies from Woods Hole to Cuttyhunk and schools of small bluefish mixed in with the bonito around the Vineyard, the sounds and the islands.
So far, the bonito bite has been outstanding; they are showing up in numbers in spots that haven’t seen that many in years, but of course, with funny fish comes some of the most aggressive and inexcusable conduct imaginable on the part of boaters.
Bob Lewis took his nephews, Hunter and Austin, over to State Beach last weekend to try for some bones after a couple of great trips to Monomoy, where they had constant action on fly rod poppers. After being spoiled by the albie fishing at West Palm Beach, where you just had to drop a fly 20 feet from the boat and dozens of fish jumped on it, Hunter and Austin got a true taste of what funny fish frustration is about around these parts.
On the offshore scene, Rory Edwards reported that Christian Giardini, owner of Falmouth Bait & Tackle, hit the canyons on Monday and caught yellowfin and mahi, with Rory emphasizing that the latter were caught on the troll, as opposed to casting around the high flyers. As Rory said, he could bet that Christian was working his usual spread of ballyhoo behind Joe Shute’s or Beamish heads, with a green machine bar somewhere in the mix.