One question I have always had regarding fish is what their reaction is to having a fleet of boats parked right on top of them.
And wouldn’t you know it, that given the prevalence of crowds in at least three spots, including one cluster at Billingsgate that I witnessed myself last Sunday, I have once again been pondering what goes on in a fish’s world when 50 to 60 vessels are hovering above them.
Given that I will never know the answer, I decided to focus my efforts on what I can measure.
Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth said that Middle Ground has definitely slowed recently, perhaps because of a lack of bait or perhaps the 50 or more boats zooming around this area have a deleterious effect on fishing.
He also added that Woods Hole seems to have lost its mojo recently, with everyone from casters to wire line jiggers to scup dunkers all lamenting the general level of activity.
I had an interesting conversation with Phil Stanton on Wednesday morning regarding water temperature and how it might be impacting the fishing right now, but I checked the NOAA buoy readings after we finished our conversation and they all read between 60 and 62, figures that are right in a striper’s comfort zone.
That said, Phil went down as far as Quicks last weekend and did some jigging in his favorite spots and the readings were around 56 degrees and he didn’t mark a fish, never mind catch one.
Jim has heard of a few small fish being caught around Naushon, but that’s about it.
Is it possible that we are behind in the numbers of bass that have migrated into and through some areas? Could it be that there hasn’t been enough bait to hold the fish there?
I do know that Phil said the squid that had been producing such great action in the Hole have disappeared.
On the other hand, Rick Fehon and Ilaria Rebay had a blast at Wasque on Monday casting plugs into the rips where the scene was classic as bass pursued squid that were flying out of the water. Competition for their pencil poppers was intense and perhaps the best part was that there were only a handful of boats around, as opposed to crowds at Middle Ground that quite often threaten to swamp them as they mind their own business in their small tin boat.
Similar to the fish that had been in pretty much all of the shoals up and down Vineyard and Nantucket sounds, many of the fish we caught were schoolies, but Ilaria managed a fish that was much larger than anything else we caught, and the percentage of bass that looked to be in the high 20- to low-30-inch range was much higher than I had experienced along the south side this season.
Christian Giardini at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket fished Middle Ground on Tuesday afternoon after all the bad weather passed through, and they managed to catch good numbers of small bluefish, as well as schoolie bass, trolling da’Squid soft plastics, from the makers of Albie Snax, with both white and amber effective colors. Other boats in the event he was fishing found more bass toward the west end of the rip.
Succonnesset was still hopping last weekend, and Andy Little at The Powderhorn in Hyannis reported that Bishop and Clerks has been building momentum recently, with pretty much anything resembling squid producing. Hogy Lures makes a great trolling option called the Perfect Squid that follows in the lineage of the classic Hootchie Squid, while Yo-zuri’s Hydro Squid is another great option.
Beach fishermen along the southside beaches are starting to see an uptick in bluefish action, noted Amy Wrightson at the Sports Port in Hyannis. The fish being caught aren’t huge, generally in the five- to six-pound range, with Oregon Beach and Dowses good bets around dusk, while the choppers are also being caught up inside Cotuit.
South Cape Beach has had an inconsistent season when it comes to bluefish, but there has been better news from this area recently, with Popponesset featuring a mix of small bass and blues.
Speaking of small bass, that is what shore anglers are still finding in good numbers along the beaches and backwaters from Falmouth to Hyannis, with some solid activity even in the daylight hours.
The black sea bass bite is still going strong. Jim Young ventured a short distance out into Nantucket Sound where he picked up his five fish limit with no problem, including a couple that were just under four pounds. He kept tossing 20-inch fish back, hoping for one more hefty specimen, but ultimately had to settle for one just a tick over that size to complete his catch. At one point, he came up with sea bass on the top and bottom hooks of his custom-tied rigs, with a scup adorning the middle one.
There was also some news on the fluke front from Amy Wrightson, who spoke to a customer who picked up a 21-inch summer flattie, as well as a few that just topped the 17-inch minimum length figure.
The bag limit is five fluke per angler per day this season, but Hayden Gallagher at Red Top in Buzzards Bay emphasized that there haven’t been many folks targeting them around the bay, with most of the focus on sea bass and scup, whose numbers remain solid.
Hayden added that shore and boat anglers are seeing more bluefish this year, including in the Canal, and the fish that are tearing apart plenty of soft plastics are definitely larger than the one- to two-pounders that were so prevalent last season.
I really appreciated an email report from Rick Dunn, a Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate, who made his living as a captain in charge of ocean-going oil tankers before starting his own business in the marine safety compliance industry while living in Texas. Rick is now back living in Bourne and teaching at MMA, as well as enjoying the local fishing scene with his son, Charlie, before the latter begins his freshman year at the Naval Academy.
Last Sunday, Rick and Charlie caught a number of schoolies around Bassett’s Island and MMA on soft plastics, which, along with the fly rod and Clousers, produced some medium-size stripers in Woods Hole. They also ran to Cuttyhunk, where they marked plenty of bait but had no luck finding bass or blues.
When it comes to larger bass, upper Buzzards Bay has slowed for sure. Christian Giardini fished last Saturday’s Stars and Stripers event and ran all the way to the east end of the Canal to jig up some mackerel and then back to the west entrance to the land cut to liveline them, but all they managed was some small bass and bluefish.
The Big Ditch itself has slowed a bit since last Saturday, although Sheila Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore told me that there was a very good bite on Monday’s afternoon/evening tide. Sheila ascribed this to the effects of the oncoming storm, but whatever caused the bass to feed down toward the railroad bridge, they were willing to take everything from soft plastic paddle jigs to subsurface swimmers and even topwater plugs.
When I spoke to Sheila Wednesday morning, however, she said the few lost souls who came into the shop were lamenting the lack of fish; that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t there, but they also aren’t jumping on the lure as if they want to be caught. With early morning current changes from the west and the full moon not until June 17, there really hasn’t been much of a topwater plugging bite in the AM.
Out in Cape Cod Bay, there is a variety of action, with much of it involving mackerel. Andy Little said the livelining has been consistent in Barnstable Harbor, while flyrodders have been enjoying daytime activity on smaller fish and a few hardcore pluggers have picked up some larger bass at night.
Christian Giardini said he heard from a reliable source that there was at least one day recently where the bass were chewing on mackerel pretty good up around Provincetown.
A number of the local charter boats continue to work the waters off the Brewster Flats and it was exciting to see a school of smaller bass come up there on Sunday, before boat noise apparently drove them down and away.
But Joe O’Leary and Rick Enz, who were fishing last Sunday’s Cape Cod Flyrodders event, managed to find the elephant(s) among the peanuts; Rick had already caught the winning 40.5-inch bass when Joe marked a school and stopped, allowing Rick to catch another beautiful bass that taped out at 39 inches. The contest required everyone to use a heavily weighted fly that its creator named the A--Whacker, and I believe the folks I saw were fishing them on heavy sink lines, so that might give you an idea of where in the water column to concentrate your efforts.
Our fishing guru Captain Dave Peros can be reached at email@example.com