2017 Saltwater Season Ending

Oct 31 2017

There are still striped bass and tautog around (not to mention false albacore just a week ago) but most anglers have pulled their boats and packed away their gear for the winter.

As in recent years, the best fishing was from early May through most of June. The fabled fall migration of decades past did not live up to its reputation — with the exception of the fish that travel through the Cape Cod Canal. Stripers going around the Cape seem to stay offshore, probably chasing schools of sea herring.

Bluefish fans had an on and off season. Big blues arrived early and then disappeared until mid to late summer. The spring bluefish run along the south-facing beaches failed to take off.

In a continuing trend, fishing for black sea bass was superb.  At times, it was hard to limit out on sea bass on every trip. The only complaint was the season ended “early” in August.

For the next several weeks, the best fishing probably will be in the freshwater ponds for trout and bass that are feeding heavily before winter sets in.

This will be the final report for 2017, and check back next spring for a new season of Cape fishing.

Hordes of Albies

Sep 11 2017

They should have been here weeks ago but the false albacore have arrived — from Waquoit Bay east all the way down along the Elizabeth Islands.  At various times there are been dozens of pods working off Falmouth Harbor, the entrance to Waquoit Bay, off Nobska Point, inside Wood Hole and all the way down to Quicks and Robinsons holes. Beyond the Falmouth waters the funny fish have surrounded the Vineyard and Nantucket and are speeding into the west end of the Canal.

Lures of choice are the traditional ones: Hogy Epoxy Jigs, Daddy Mac jigs, Albie Snax and Deadly Dicks.  For those who prefer to troll, the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Diver is the plug of choice.

The only bad news with the arrival of albies is they have crowded out the bonito which for weeks had been relatively plentiful in the local waters.

In other fishing news, the black sea bass season is closed (although anglers continue to catch them by every method) and fluke season will end September 23.  Striped bass are always open but they have been hard to come by in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds.  The best approach has been live eels fished at night or during low light conditions.  But if stripers are your goal, your best bet is the Cape Cod Canal.  You may have missed the epic blitzes of several weeks ago but the canal still holds bait and bass.

A Broken Bonito Record

Aug 18 2017

Any day now we’ve been telling customers the bonito, not to mention the albies, should show up inside Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds and Buzzards Bay.  After all, they’ve been at the Hooter and the Bonito Bar for more than a month. But everyday we find ourselves repeating the mantra — any day now.

The latest reports have a half dozen or so boats chasing breaking fish off West Falmouth Harbor earlier this week.  And an 8-lb plus bonito was trolled up on a wireline parachute jig at Horseshoe Shoal over the weekend. So just maybe the day will have arrived that the funny fish really arrive and stay around.

In other news, striped bass fishing is slow, unless you’re in Cape Cod Bay, along the Canal or off its west end. Small bass up to 28 to 30 inches are plentiful and feeding on an abundance of peanut bunker.

Black sea bass fishing remains good but the season will close on August 29.  Fluke fishing is decent but not great, with the short to keeper ratio about 10 to 1.

Blues Building Warming Waters

Jul 28 2017

Blluefish — the bane of many anglers but a sought-after target for others — are finally starting to establish themselves in the now warmer local waters.  Horseshoe and the other Nantucket Sound shoals are holding good numbers of 4 to 6-lb blues. A traditional Rebel or Bomber trolled behind a boat will lead to frequent hook-ups.  Smaller blues are also being found throughout Buzzards Bay.

Striped bass fishing has slowed, as it usually does in late July and August. First light and night fishing are the best times to target bass, whether you’re in a boat or on the beach.

An unusally large number of sandbar (aka brown) sharks have taken up residence in the local waters.  They’re protected by federal regulations but anglers chunking for bass are hooking up regularly with sharks in the 200 to 300-lb range — and resulting in more than a few broken rods.  Reminder: should you inadvertently hook brown shark, it must be released as quickly as possible.

Bonito are still being trolled up out by the Hooter but have yet to invade Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds.  It’s probably only a matter of days until that fishery breaks out.

Bonito Are Here

Jul 21 2017

The first bonito of the year were caught two weeks ago and this week they are being trolled up regularly at the Hooter. A small diving plug — the Yo-Zuri Deep Diver Crystal Minnow is the most popular — is the bait of choice.  It’s probably just a matter of days and the small tunas were spread throughout the local waters.  And history says the bonito’s cousin, the false albacore, will be right on its heels.

A local angler commercially fishing for striped bass in Woods Hole had two massive sandbar (or brown) sharks take his fresh pogie bait.  The first was estimated at 200 lbs, the second even bigger at 300 lbs. These sharks are protected and must be released (these were) if inadvertently hooked.

Bottom Line on Bottom Fish

Jul 07 2017

As we finally enter real summer conditions — and striped bass begin to disappear to deeper, cooler water — anglers begin to target the area’s bottom dwellers: fluke and black sea bass.

The fluke started out slowly with sub-legal fish (under 17″) greatly outnumbering the keepers.  However, in the past week, the success ratio has improved significantly, particularly in Buzzards Bay.  From West Falmouth Harbor north to Cleveland Ledge and the Mashnee flats, anglers reported consistent catches of fluke up to 20-plus inches.  In Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, the best fluking has been at the traditional shoals: Lucas, Middle Ground and Halfway.  The biggest fluke usually come from the deepest holes of 80 to even 100 feet.

Sea bass are no longer concentrated on their spawning grounds but can be found on almost any kind of structure.  A simple multiple hook rig dressed with squid strips are effective.  So too are small diamond jigs with a green tail or pink bucktail jigs will do the trick.

For boat and shore anglers, striped bass fishing is best at first and last light, or during the night hours. Cut bait and plugs seem to be working equally well.

This has not been a banner year for bluefish but decent fish — 6 to 8 pounds — are being trolled up on the Nantucket Sound shoals,  particularly Horseshoe.

Breaking News:  From a reliable source, two bonito were caught off Squibnocket on the Vineyard.  Funny fish are on the way.

Summer Conditions Arriving

Jun 09 2017

After what seemed like a month of rain, the return of sunshine is welcome although it will start to warm the local waters. It might take a week or two, but striped bass will start heading for their summer haunts. Anglers targeting bass will have to look in the deeper holes, the cooler waters out toward Wasque Point or the night-time hours.

Another indicator of the warming waters is the sudden appearance of bluefish ranging from several pounds up to 6 or 7 pounds. Shore anglers who’ve been waiting for the traditional June bluefish run just might find it off the south facing beaches.

Black sea bass fishing continues to be superb – there’s no other word for it. Find some structure, drop a rig or jig tipped with squid and you’re almost guaranteed to bring home arguably our best tasting fish.

Fluke fishing seems to be off to a slow start, although persistent anglers are reporting very good ratio of keepers to shorts.

With the weather about to change significantly now’s the time to get out on the water.

Bass and More Bass

Jun 02 2017

Bass — the striped variety and the black sea type — are everywhere throughout Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds.  Of course anglers are guaranteed a keeper at any time and place (it is fishing after all), but odds are with enough time on the water they’ll bring a keeper bass to the beach or boat.  Striped bass need to be 28 inches, while the black sea bass must be 15 inches or better. The rips in the sounds, the passage through Woods Hole and the rocks along the Elizabeth Islands are all holding bass.

Bluefish have been here for several weeks but the traditional late May and early June blitz at South Cape and Cotuit has yet to explode.  It may be the matter of just a couple of sunny days.

Fluke fishing is okay, based on just a few reports since the season opened.  The less than good news is that anglers have to work to find fluke; the good news is that keepers are outnumbering shorts.

We’re now into what is arguably the best period for fishing in the upper cape. Ocean temperatures are running lower than normal for this time of year so the good fishing might just hold for the remainder of the month.

Welcome to 2017

May 26 2017

A new season is upon us and the fishing forecast for the Memorial Day Weekend is at least good if not excellent.  There are school-sized striped bass — from as little as 10 inches up to 30 inches — everywhere. Ponds, rivers, bays, shoals and rips throughout the Upper Cape have schoolies galore. And just in time for the holiday, bigger bass are moving into the area, with 20 and 30-lb bass taken this week in Woods Hole, along the Elizabeth Islands and at Halfway Shoal. For anglers desiring consistent big bass action and the means to travel, Cape Cod Bay should be the destination where trophy bass are chasing mackerel from the east end of the canal to Provincetown.

In the annual May-June ritual, bluefish have arrived off South Cape Beach in Mashpee and Oregon Beach in Cotuit. Best action is usually at first and last light although 8 to 10-lb choppers can pop up at any hour of the day.

For bottom fishing scup, black sea bass and fluke seasons are all open, with sea bass taking the headlines. Most anglers are having little trouble finding five 15-inch or bigger sea bass for their daily limit. Rocky shoals and ledges in Buzzards Bay and the wrecks in off the Vineyard are top producers.

Albies Filtering In, Slowly But Surely

Sep 14 2016

False albacore are slowly but surely showing up in the Upper Cape waters.  The best fishing for the speedy funny fish has been from just outside Waquoit Bay east to off Craigville Beach in Hyannis. Woods Hole, Lackey’s Cove and other traditional spots have had fish sporadically.  The strong winds of recent days have made for difficult fishing and the huge schools of bait in the the bays and salts ponds has yet to drop out into the Sound.  When the winds calm and bait moves, fishing should improve significantly.

Striped bass fishing is still slow.  There are school fish and keepers around but it takes time and patience to boat them.  For bluefish fans there are large slammers present, with many fish topping 10 pounds.