This week around these parts, Mr. Squid was definitely the prime player in many locations, both in large and small ways—or at least sizes.
First off, the Canal was on fire Tuesday morning and I certainly expected it to continue for at least another day or so, although by the time this is printed, that may have all changed, given the fickle nature of fishing.
But with the breaking tides in full force in the wee hours earlier this week, big bass were just having their way with squid, some of them of epic proportions.
Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore told me the largest fish he weighed in on Tuesday tipped the scales at 43 pounds, but I certainly suspect—and hope—that a number of equally impressive fish were caught and released.
It was so good that Captain Warren Marshall’s grandson, Mike Barry, who is a cadet at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, called to tell him that there were big stripers pushing squid and that some of the Loligo were actually jetting up onto the riprap in hopes of escaping the waiting maws.
A Gray Gables resident (or someone who had permission to be there) told Bruce that he picked up 30 pounds of choice squid without having to do any fishing for them at all. Some of these squid were so large that the tubes were 18 inches or so in length.
Of course, what I keep wondering is where these squid came from, but I can almost guarantee that folks who enjoyed that Canal blitz couldn’t have cared if they fell out of the sky. All they knew was that they poured into the west end and worked their way down the land cut.
As one would expect, white was a top color no matter if you were throwing a wide variety of topwater plugs or even Sebiles, but what I found most intriguing is that mackerel patterns did a job as well. Bruce confirmed that Wacky Mackerel and blue mack were both effective, but I sure would have liked to have catalogued all the colors and plugs that folks used to catch bass.
The word from Tyler McKay at Red Top in Buzzards Bay is that once the breaking tides slid into the mid-stages of the east current, there was an excellent jig bite, which these days means paddle tail plastics as opposed to old school bucktails.
That doesn’t mean that bucktails wouldn’t have worked; in fact, I have little doubt that an old school white Canal bucktail tipped with red pork rind would have been killer.
But white or mackerel soft plastics now rule the Big Ditch and Jeff Miller reminded me that unlike bucktailing, which generally required some room between anglers to be fished effectively, the paddles are basically cast out and retrieved by most folks without concern for reading the current or even probing the bottom.
Out at Wasque Monday, I missed my mark and found the rips raging as Paul Valint remembered them when he fished with Captain Tom Danforth.
We stayed just long enough to allow Paul and his grandson, Luke, to catch a few cookie cutter bass. Paul was using squid flies, while Luke raised plenty of bass using a Gibbs’ red-and-white pencil popper.
We also fished Middle Ground, and there small squid came into play, as there were good numbers of schoolies erupting up and down in the flat water in front of the rip, as well as in the white water. It might have had something to do with the sun, but the bass were very tough to fool for the most part, despite the effort of the flyrodders and casters tossing a multitude of offerings. Although I did see plenty of squid, I also suspect that the fish may be feeding there on an ever-increasing number of sand eels.
Kevin Downs at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket added that in addition to Middle Ground, anglers are having success on bass and blues casting white- or bone-colored lures, such as Hogy’s and Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers, at Hedge Fence and Succonnesset. Folks who prefer to troll have been doing well with Yo-zuri swimmers and wire-and-jigs.
When I spoke to Phil Stanton, I hoped he had some good news about these same baby squid being in Woods Hole, but alas, that was not to be as of midweek. What the good captain did tell me was that he managed to jig up some 20-pound-class bass in the Hole as well as along the Elizabeths.
Jim Young from Eastman’s Sport & Tackle in Falmouth added that a 30-pound striper was taken on a live scup on Tuesday morning and a young man I spoke to last Sunday while I was in the shop said that live eels, like the ones he was purchasing, have been working well for him.
Meanwhile, Halfway Shoal, or L’Hommedieu as its designated on navigation charts, has been a good spot for the wire line crew. There are the typical fat mid-20-inch fish around, but those in the know have been catching some quality 40-inch fish on chartreuse, white, and red/white parachute jigs.
Shore anglers all along the southside are still taking good numbers of schoolies, and they are also getting more shots at bluefish, especially as you move east toward Cotuit and Osterville. The folks at the Sports Port in Hyannis added that there are northern kingfish being caught off of Dowses.
For the groundfish crew, the black sea bass and scup bite remains strong. Jim Young managed to get out last Saturday before the winds kicked up and had success on sea bass in the deeper water around Hedge Fence.
On the other hand, Evan Eastman’s last fluke trip with his dad, Chuck, at Middle Ground was pretty typical of what most people have been reporting. They managed to catch 30 or so summer flatties, but only one topped the 17-inch recreational minimum. More and more, it appears that the ticket to catching sizeable fluke on a consistent basis is to fish well east, from Monomoy to the monster grounds east of Nantucket.
Phil Stanton took his guests sea bass fishing up in Buzzards Bay on Monday and they caught some “monsters,” as he called them, using Jim Young’s custom rigs. Along with using a jig, adding another sweetener to mix, Phil tipped the custom feathers that adorn Jim’s creation with pieces of squid.
From the Hog Island Channel to the holes and hard structure that dot Wareham Bay and spots west, there are still some big schools of pogies and the word is that some big old bass continue to hang around them. Buzzards Bay is also holding plenty of smaller bass as well as bluefish.
Now, I would have expected the news on the Canal to include stories of bass exploding on mackerel, but apparently these baitfish are hanging out in Cape Cod Bay, perhaps because they don’t want to deal with the huge squid in the Ditch, as Bruce Miller said.
No matter the reason, there is an excellent bite from the Dump over to the waters north of Billingsgate up to Truro; livelining mackerel is obviously productive there, as it is inside Barnstable, but Bruce Miller advised that at times these fish are responding to surface plugs such as the Little Doc.
Keep in mind that reports are only so good (ouch!). For example, a member of the Cape Cod Flyrodders recently fished Billingsgate and the waters around Brewster. He had a fine day of waving the long wand, with bass up to 35-inches, but the next day another flyrodder fished the same waters and found nada, nothing, zero. So the moral is that news is only new when it happens and just a place to start, not necessarily finish.