ALBIES! ALBIES! ALBIES! This week’s Fishing Forecast is dominated by the incredible false albacore fishing that is happening around the Cape and Islands. But, if for some reason you aren’t gripped by false albacore fever, there are other opportunities, from sea bass and scup to giant bluefin and bigeye tuna.
Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay
Last Thursday, we heard the first word of albies in Buzzards Bay, off Westport and off the North Falmouth beaches. They have been popping up from Woods Hole to the Cape Cod Canal this week, reported Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay. They have even been spotted inside the Canal, where shore fishermen have had shots at them with long-casting metals.
The night bite has been good in the Canal, but few fishermen have been taking advantage. Eels and jigs are producing bass up to 35 pounds.
Bonito reports have slowed down as the albies have muscled their way in to tear up the schools of peanut bunker. There are also snapper blues inshore, in every harbor and in the Agawam and Weweantic rivers, snacking on the peanuts.
South Side and Islands
Last week, the bonito bite at the Hooter was red hot. This week, I didn’t hear any reports because most guys have stayed closer to shore to chase albies. Coops Bait and Tackle in Edgartown reported that albies have surrounded the Vineyard, with reports of fish off Tashmoo, Menemsha, and Oak Bluffs. There have also been blitzing albies from South Cape Beach in Mashpee all the way to Woods Hole, with fish appearing by 7 AM most mornings and feeding until 7 PM. The number of fish on the surface Thursday morning was staggering, and if the fish stick around it should be a fantastic weekend of albie fishing.
The hot lure has been the Hogy SI Epoxy Jig in pink, blue or olive. Cast over feeding fish and retrieve at a good clip with the rod tip down to keep the lure moving just under the surface. Daddy Mac metals, Deadly Dicks, Point Jude tins, Albie Snax, Williamson Gomame Jigs and even topwater spooks are also fooling the albies, which seem to lose their inhibition when blasting through bait balls of peanut bunker. Go with a long leader of 20-pound-test fluorocarbon and you’ll have fewer refusals from the keen-eyed fish.
Fly fishermen are also enjoying the action. Mimic the abundant peanut bunker, which are about 1 to 2 inches long.
Sea bass and scup fishing remains good, but bass reports remain slow. Popponesset and Cotuit have schoolie stripers on small bait. Some nighttime fishermen are reporting a decent eel bite in the Westport area and along the Elizabeth Islands, but the only daytime bite of keeper-sized bass has been out at Handkerchief Shoal and in the Monomoy Rips.
Outer Cape and Cape Cod Bay
The boat hotspot for stripers this week has been Handkerchief Shoal and the Monomoy Rips. Bass to 40 pounds have been reported, and boat traffic has lessened now that the Massachusetts commercial season has closed. Eels have been the bait of choice, according to Dan at The Hook Up in Orleans.
Provincetown is producing bluefish and some small stripers from the beaches, reported Nelson’s Bait & Tackle in Provincetown. The blues have even been blitzing baitfish on the surface occasionally. Giant bluefin tuna moved onto Stellwagen Bank, from Middle Bank to the Southwest Corner and off Peaked Hill Bar. Live mackerel have produced a few giants to 800 pounds! There are rumors of smaller tuna off Peaked Hill Bar as well, which is good news for trollers. Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Charters has been traveling well east of Chatham and finding bluefin by jigging and occasionally on the surface.
Cape Cod Bay is still giving up some good stripers on tube-and-worm rigs and live eels from Scorton Ledge to The Parking Lot (off Sandy Neck).
The bite at the Canyons, particularly at the area known as Fish Tails at the tip of Block Canyon, has been phenomenal: yellowfin tuna to 100 pounds overnight on jigs and squid, and bigeyes to 200+ pounds on the troll. A great weather window had almost every canyon boat planning to head out on Thursday and Friday.
It’s hard to recommend anything other than chasing albies this weekend. If the fish stick around and remain spread out, there should be plenty of room to cast to fish without any reason for tempers to flare. Remember, it often pays to turn off the engines and drift through an area rather than running-and-gunning to every blitz that pops up. For stripers, head to Handkerchief Shoal. If you enjoy eating pan-fried snapper bluefish, head to any harbor.