Cape Cod Fishing Report – August 25, 2016

(photo – Stavros Viglas of Martha’s Vineyard checked in with one of the first inshore albies of the season.) 

Cape Cod Canal & Buzzards Bay

It was another good week in the Cape Cod Canal. There were reports of a late-night jig bite, an early-morning topwater bite, an afternoon bite, and an evening bite. The West End, the East End and the middle were all mentioned in reports this week, but all the shops described the bite in the same way: it has been up-and-down, and you have to put in some time and effort to connect.

Over at Red Top in Buzzards Bay, they haven’t weighed in a big bass since last week’s 50-pounder, but they reported that a good number of 20- and 30-pound bass have been caught this week, with good late-night action toward the West End on jigs and an early morning bite on topwater plugs. The folks at Maco’s in Wareham added that there has been an afternoon bite as well, but it’s been inconsistent. White shads and Savage Sand Eel jigs bounced along the bottom have been the top fish producers.

Upper Buzzards Bay has schoolie stripers, small bluefish under birds, and no sign, yet, of bonito or albies. There are some decent fluke being caught around the Mashnee Flats. Sea bass are still around in 30 to 40 feet of water, but remember that the season closes on August 31 this year. In the Cape-side harbors, there’s lots of bait and small snapper blues. Down toward Westport and Sakonnet, there have been some bunches of bonito popping up. Along the Elizabeth Islands, most of the reports are of small blues and stripers to 30 inches during the day.

Downeast Charters in Chatham reported a great striper bite on vertical jigs this week.

Downeast Charters in Chatham reported a great striper bite on vertical jigs this week.

Cape Cod Bay and Outer Cape

The Cape Cod Bay striper bite remains strong for big bass off Sandy Neck and on Scorton Ledge. Tube-and-worm rigs by day and live eels at night remain your best bets. From the beaches, chunk bait in the evenings and into the dark are producing some fish. Trolling wire line is producing some blues and bass at Billingsgate and at Race Point, where vertical jigging is also productive.

Some smaller tuna in the 50-inch class are popping up on the southeast corner of Stellwagen and on Peaked Hill. The fish have been coming up just enough to give the run-and-gun guys some good shots.

The striped bass fishing has been very good off Nauset, Chatham, and Monomoy. Bluefish scattered the pogies, but you might still find some off Nauset with bass on them. The better bite is out in deeper water where wire-line jigging the pot line and vertical jigging in 60 to 80 feet of water has been producing good fish, reported Captain John of Fish Chatham Charters

Captain John has been chasing tuna and connected Thursday with two fish in the 50-inch class off the backside of the Cape by working north toward Highland Light. The fish hit trolled squid bars. There has been some topwater tuna action up toward Truro for spincasters throwing plugs and soft-plastics.  He also landed an 81-incher earlier this week out at the Regal Sword on a trolled ballyhoo.

Captain Bobby Rice went south last week to get in on the mahi bite.

Captain Bobby Rice went south last week to get in on the mahi bite.

South Side and Islands

Slightly cooler inshore waters and an increase in the amount of bait has brought schoolie stripers and small keepers back in along the south-facing beaches. The Poppy spit has been a good spot for stripers and a few small blues, reported Jeff from Forestdale Bait and Tackle. An angler fishing clams in the early morning has been doing well on 30-inch bass. Another fishermen who was trolling off Popponesset reported some small blues.

Bonito fishing had been sporadic, and bluefish strangely absent, but the past few trips to the Hooter have been productive and yesterday Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters lucked into an all-out blitz. He had bonito on top, bluefish at mid-depth, and stripers below them. Some bonito have been reported on Hedge Fence as well, but most of the fishermen on the Vineyard Sound shoals are finding black sea bass (remember that the season closes on August 31).

There were confirmed reports of bunches of albies feeding inshore this week and at least a few were caught, including one from the shore, reported Peter from Larry’s Tackle Shop on the Vineyard. The albies have been spotted along State Beach and off Cape Pogue. Peter also reported squid and peanut bunker in the area and said that island anglers are sharpening hooks and prepping gear for the better fishing that’s sure to come as we transition to September fishing.

Snapper blues are showing in the harbors and salt ponds. The baby blues will grow fast and should be a good size for eating in another week or two.

The water is too warm for bluefin tuna south of Martha’s Vineyard, but it’s just right for mahi, makos and marlin, reported Steve at Chaser Offshore Fishing. The water out by the Star and Gordons Gully has had good amounts of life in recent days. Small jigs tipped with Gulp or cut squid are irresistible to the mahi hanging around floats. White marlin are tough to fool, but some fishermen have had luck with live pitch baits. Farther south at the Shipping Lanes, there have been some small yellowfin tuna and larger mahi caught by trolling.


Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod

Many fishermen will be hunting albies this weekend, which may or may not show in numbers. A better bet might be to head to the Hooter or the Bonito Bar for a mix of bones and blues, and then check for albies in Muskeget Channel on the way in. It’s also the last weekend of the black sea bass season, which has been phenomenal. Head to any piece of structure in 30 plus feet of water in Vineyard Sound or lower Buzzards Bay and you should have no problem putting together a final fresh sea bass fish fry. Shore fishermen who put in some time on the Cape Cod Canal will continue to be rewarded, while boat fishermen looking for bass should either head to Cape Cod Bay with live eels or the waters off Chatham with an array of vertical jigs.



  1. Fred Lilienkamp

    Want to know who kills the most striped bass on Cape Cod? Here’s your answer:
    ”It is widely known that seals eat between 6%-8% of their body weight in fish per day. Which doesn’t seem like all that much. Now let’s scale it a bit. How much fish will 10,000 seals eat in a day? Well, if those 10,000 seals weigh 500 pounds each, they would consume 350,000 lbs. of fish per day or 2.45 million pounds of fish per week”.
    I just talked to a National Seashore volunteer on Head of the Meadow beach where there were 500 grey seals hauled out. He said there were 30,000 seals on the Cape now, 15,000 on Monomoy. That calculates to 1,920,000 lbs of fish per day to feed the seals. Don’t tell me crap that it matters whether a person keeps one fish or not. That is not the cause of the problem. I challenge OTW to write an article about the REAL reason the stripers are in decline on the Cape. I don’t think they have the guts to do it.
    Want to know why you don’t get fishing reports any more from the outer cape – or Race point? It’s because 4 bait and tackle shops have gone out of business on the outer cape in the last 5 years. Nelson’s in Ptown is the latest victim. If you want bait or tackle, the farthest north B&T shop is Blackbeard’s in Eastham. NONE in Wellfleet, Truro, or Ptown. What used to be the premier surfcasting location in America is now destroyed by seals. Sure – if you want to pay for a $400 charter to catch one fish or buy your $50,000 center console, you might be able to get a striper. The not rich guy with a $150 surfcasting outfit that will last him for years is done for -history. Incredibly sad. Where’s the story about that? Oh – I get it . That wouldn’t sell fancy tackle and boats and accessories, does it now? It would just tell the truth.

    • Pete steinbach

      It is easy to vilify seals as the reason for bass declines. It’s harder to look at our own fishing practices. Bass get hammered from the time they are in the Chesapeake and Hudson to every state along the migration route. Poor spawning years and degraded water quality in key spawning areas are the main factor in lower bass numbers. Recreational take of fish that have just reached good spawning size is another. Sloppy fishing practices are another factor. Go down tide of the the fleet on the monomoy rips and count the floaters, some days it is obcene. People gaff sub legal fish, measure and discard over and over. I’ve seen seals feasting on this waste. I’ve seen charter boats toss dead fish out of the box to make limit room for larger fish. I’ve never seen a seal kill a fish then discard it for a larger one.
      The increase in seal population certainly does impact fish populations. It doesn’t compare to the impact of human predation and habitat degradation. Arrogance allows you to believe that natural resources are strictly for humans. It’s nice to see the great whites here to eat seals and orcas have been making an appearance this year. Pretty sure they want to eat seals as well. Part of having a functioning brain is the ability to enjoy the things around us. There are more people in Hyannis than there are seals in the state. Learn to share.
      Just in case you’re thinking I’m some algae eating dreadlocked douche, I hunt and fish and spend most of my time outdoors. I just get really pissed when people look at such a small part of a big picture.

      • Dr Steve Brule

        Seals suck but we r wayyyyy worse! Walk the canal slaughter house on breaking tides. Go out and join the commercial fleet off of the race or Chatham, real commercial guys r ok, it’s the tools who just use it for tax purposes and bragging rights that chap my ass. Lastly watch some googan drag the fish over 20′ of sand and hold it up for 10 minutes so his wife can take pictures of a 20″ bass then throw it like a horse shoe back in the water. Seals r trash but humans r the worst!

      • Jerry Witt

        Very well said.It’s nice to see other people are concerned and pass it on to others like this.
        Thank you.

      • Nighthawk Soars

        *** orcas have been making an appearance this year. Pretty sure they want to eat seals as well***

        Not these orcas…these live on squid, fish, seabirds and the odd sea turtle or two. The west coast orcas are seal eaters.

    • Craig H

      True. Plus, it seems striped bass have moved further offshore. Association? In addition, dense herds/rookeries of seals must be a pollution concern. Ever boat or walk past 2-3,000 seals lounging on a spit of sand? The fetid stench of their excrement is unbearable.

    • Ralph K

      This. The Marine Mammal Act was intended to protect Right and other whales which were critically endangered. Special interest groups (group) had ALL marine mammals included. It is a joke perpetrated on the American people. Seal populations were never in danger.

  2. Bob

    Hey my wife and I will be heading to the cape sept. 11 thru the 16 to and will only be fishing from shore been going for years and the fishing has been spotty at best then . The canal was our best bet then , but we are staying in Dennis . Any tips for the shore fisherman? Last year I fought any Albie from the jetty at bass river, sure hope they show up again

  3. Capt. Jellylegs Quint

    Reminds me of me favorite story……. So a seal walks into a club…………Bada Bing arrrr. Seen more Pogies in BuzzardsbBay than I have in years. Plankton get eaten by baitfish, baitfish get eaten by Blues n Stripers who get eaten by seals and surf casters, Seals and surf casters get eaten Great Whites. Great Whites get eaten by Orcas. I married an Orca and eat that every so often but catch plenty O stripers on me boat so I guess me n the wife arr top of the food chain. Arrrrrrrr

  4. Jeff

    I’ve been hearing about the on going seal problem for years now, but know one can ever directly put seals on hunting striped bass . If it’s injured or on a fishermans hook sure. Ask any fishermen if there is a seal at the breakers do they ever catch fish. The answer would be no. But when a seal isn’t there the bass are. I think striped bass stay father offshore ,away from seals whenever possible. I think seals won’t pursue too far from land because of great whites. No as far as smaller less agile fish like fluke flounder sea bass scup and dubious amounts of bait fish that striped bass also eat is the bigger problem. But then again a striped bass is a migratory fish and if condition are unfavorable in one area. Say too many seals or not enough bait. They will move on to the next desirable location.
    I’m all for conservation, but this is more of a localized issue. It does need to be delt with. The only way to do that is to let people know what damage there doing to the environment and the eco system. If you say we’ll there getting all the fish and I can’t get none, there gonna laugh you right or of city hall. If you don’t like it so much get a petition going , put awareness signs on telephone poles or right a letter to your congressman. By the way I believe the election is Sept 8th, I think Timilty is the one for conservation. Or right a letter to your local outdoor writer and maybe he’ll publish it.

  5. John

    As before I said I am out on Buzzard’s Bay everyday and there a loads of schoolies around the west end and it is deplorable how people go after them. Saw some bonehead in the bow with his wife driving literally herding the fish as he attempted to cast. Guys throwing double treble hooks at 15 inch hooks and wondering why their boat is bloody. People flying into the middle of a flock of birds in 5 feet of water. People literally chucking the fish back in the water. I have killed one under-sized stripped bass this season and spent 5 minutes trying to revive it, more people need to be educated on how to treat the fish, someone above my pay grade needs to figure out how.

  6. Lance Wis

    Over the past twenty years, I have split my saltwater fishing time between the Merrimack River/Plum Island and Cape Cod. On the Cape, I mostly fish around Monomoy, where I have watched the seal population swell just as I have watched the striper numbers fall in the past three or four years. Coincidence? Yes, mostly. The Merrimack has nothing like the seals on Monomoy, and the striper numbers have fallen there just as they have all over the east coast. It’s time we made stripers a game fish and spent more money on education, on reestablishing populations of prey species like alewives, and did a much better job of protecting menhaden from commercial annihilation.

  7. Joe @ PV

    Lots of intelligent points above. Self reflection is good. Yes, we humans are the most wasteful offenders and eco violators. Having said that, the seal population is exploding and has been for the past 10 years that I have observed. The sad fact is that seal infestation continues to reshape & deteriorate the ecosystem along the sandy beaches and bars from PTown to Monomoy & surrounding Nantucket. (Look closely at Google maps sattelite images for instance at the north tip of Nantucket.) They’re settling in along Vineyard Sound and Buzzard Bay, and I see them regularly when I swim and wade fish all the way to Woods Hole. Too too many seals and the sharks that follow are creating tremendous imbalances and rapid shifts.

    There is mounting pressure for humankind to environmentally engineer a balanced solution to this, ourselves included.


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