The good news is that our local tackle shops shops are reporting that they are doing really well in terms of foot traffic and sales. Whether the reason is that people have more time on their hands and therefore the opportunity and interest in doing some fishing or that the idea of getting out in the fresh air is simply more appealing, people are hitting the beaches and are out in their boats.
According to Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth, there was a good topwater bite on stripers in the 24 to 26-inch class at Halfway Shoal earlier this week and added that Phil Stanton has picked up a couple of bass in the 30-inch range. Apparently, Phil is a big fan of a Bomber swimmer in what he calls “the clown color.”
He was referring to the Bomber with a pearl background with splotches of yellow, pink and blue. It is interesting that this color has proven itself both over light colored sandy bottom and rocky structure with fast moving current. I am not a big fan of their double and triple treble hook setups, but I have managed to replace the tail treble with a flag, which is a hookless bucktail or feather-dressed hook shank that has the bends and barbs clipped off, or a piece of stiff, straight piece of stainless wire that has an eye looped into it. I have also removed all of the bends/barbs on the second belly hook, if it has one, and tinkered around with the leftover shank, adding weight if necessary, to get the plug to swim the same as it did with all of the hardware it originally came with.
When schoolies are prevalent, it makes sense to go with single hook jigs or soft plastic jerkbaits rigged with offset worm or swimbait hooks. Even if you run into a larger fish, these hooks are strong enough to do the job.
Pat Rourke, who was manning the counter with Jim at Eastman’s, said he has been using topwater plugs such as Rebel Jumpin’ Minnows and Heddon Super Spooks with a great deal of success up inside Popponesset and Waquoit. Pat emphasized that the fish were chunky, albeit below the 28-inch minimum length.
Christian Giardini from Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket didn’t have much positive to say about the squid fishery in the sounds this spring. The dragger that usually provides local squid for his shop had a tough time locating any concentrations and apparently a number of squid boats have moved south of the Vineyard and Nantucket.
Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis said folks have run into a few legal stripers from the beaches between Cotuit and Hyannis, with plenty of smaller fish in the mix as well.
Bluefish have been here-and-there, with Elise Costa at The Powderhorn providing an encouraging report that suggests the fishing has been better so far this year for both shore and beach anglers. She didn’t say that things are gangbusters, but folks putting in their time and tossing plugs in the waters between Cotuit and Hyannis have been getting into some decent numbers.
Christian G. had the same thing to say about the bluefish bite from Falmouth to Mashpee; most of the fish are between three and six-pounds, but he has heard of the occasional school of larger choppers moving through, fish that he calls “ocean-going” since it is not uncommon to run into big, nasty blues out on the offshore grounds where they make a mess of plastic squid spreader bars.
Up in Buzzards Bay, the opportunities for bass up to the 20-pound class have been increasing. In some seasons, mackerel move through the Canal and get trapped around the west entrance, but the word from Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore is that schools of pogies are drawing in some quality fish, just as they have the last several seasons. These fish have been showing for years in decent numbers inside Wareham Bay and out to Bird Island, as well as west towards Marion and Mattapoisett. Everything from big topwater plugs to soft plastic stickbaits and paddletails are good choices, and flyrodders have found these aggressive, hungry fish willing to take big flies.
Meanwhile, the fishing remains consistent up inside Buttermilk Bay and the rivers over Wareham way, advised Cole Freeman from Red Top in Buzzards Bay. Pink or green soft plastic stickbaits have been effective and fly anglers are catching good numbers on a variety of patterns, although at times there is no need to go with anything fancier than a chartreuse/white or olive/white, or even a straight chartreuse, Deceiver or Clouser.
Cole added that there were a few larger bass caught in the Canal this weekend. His recommendation is to use a Sebile Magic Minnow. I heard from a Bell Road regular that a 47-inch fish was caught on one of these triple jointed swimmers a little bit before I showed up on Tuesday.
Jeff Miller saw pictures of a few other 40-inch fish from the Big Ditch that he was pleased to say were released. Savage Sand Eels are once again hard to beat as the larger bass around the east end are following mackerel into the land cut on the end of the east tide and the turn to the west. Jeff emphasized that these are big horse mackerel, but don’t be surprised if you see bass that aren’t much bigger than these baitfish trying to get one down its gullet.
Out in Cape Cod Bay, the mackerel are out off the east entrance, providing livelining opportunities for the boat crew, and Jeff added that the fishing is also picking up around the BH buoy down Barnstable way.
Although the larger bass aren’t really inside the harbor yet, Amy W. heard from some boat anglers who managed upwards of 40 stripers before 7 AM earlier this week. They were using topwater plugs and found the fish a little bit finicky, admitting that flyrodders probably would have done better—with intermediate or sinking line and sand eel patterns, based on what I have experienced in the past, starting with the weeks before Memorial Day and picking up steam as the calendar flips to June.
It didn’t take long for the sea bass bite to attract plenty of attention with the opening of the recreational season last Monday. Buzzards Bay was alive with boaters and there are good numbers of “knotheads” or “purple heads,” whatever you would like to call the bigger males sporting spawning colors and anatomy right now.
Some folks are still targeting tautog in Buzzards Bay and the sounds, but the masses of sea bass and scup can be awfully tough to get away from. For example, Amy W. told of an angler and his friends who picked up some green crabs and headed for Collier’s Ledge, one of the most productive tog locales for boats heading out from Hyannis to Mashpee. They had a good day of fishing, catching sea bass, scup, and stripers on their crab baits, but no members of the family they were targeting.
Pat R. fished the north side of the Vineyard and admitted that it proved to be a bad decision. He came up empty while his brother fished the wrecks off of Oak Bluffs and limited out on sea bass.
Although it is common to fish right on the wrecks, Christian G. recommended moving just off of them into deeper water where you will find larger fish and avoiding sacrificing either bait rigs or the ever-popular Spro Jig/Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet combinations to the bottom.