Pictured above: Casey Allen with a big Buzzards Bay Bluefish
Based on the swarms of stripers flooding into Cape waters this week, fishermen have reason to be excited for this season and seasons to come. Two size classes seem to be heavily represented in the fish that are being caught around the Cape and Islands (pretty much from every shore except the backside beach) – 16- to 20-inch schoolies and 28- to 30-inch small keepers.
Fishermen are theorizing that those small keepers are 2011 year-class stripers from the record-breaking Chesapeake Bay spawn that year. Provided we take good care of them, those fish will be drag-pulling 40-inchers in a few years. For now, they are providing a lot of excitement for early-season light-tackle and fly-fishermen braving less-than-ideal early May weather.
The other big news this week was the bunch of big bluefish that pushed into Buzzards Bay. While a few have been reported around Martha’s Vineyard and on the southside of the Cape around Cotuit – where we typically see them feeding on squid in mid-May – most of the reports of bluefish this week came from upper Buzzards Bay, particularly the stretch from Marion to Wareham, where they are pursuing pogies and river herring.
Shore fishermen have reported lots of stripers along the southside from Woods Hole to Chatham. Salt ponds, bays, and rivers have been producing the most action. Small keepers have been most prevalent in locales that host herring runs and cinder worm spawns.
Boaters looking for bass have been doing best in Buzzards Bay, where surface feeds of bass under diving birds have been popping up off Sippiwisset and West Falmouth, and around the Mashnee Flats over to Wareham. Almost every harbor and river mouth in Buzzards Bay is loaded with schoolies and small keepers, but there have also been a few 40-inch strays caught.
A few of those strays have come out of the Canal. Along with loads of schoolies and small keeper, a 30-pounder and a 19-pounder were landed Thursday morning “in the general area of the herring run” reported Jeff at Maco’s Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay. Jeff also commented on the big bluefish, including a few 10-pounders, caught this week in Marion Harbor and where the Wareham and Weweantic rivers meet.
AJ at Red Top Sporting Goods mentioned that 30-pounder from the Canal and added that he weighed in a 22-pounder Thursday morning, which was caught on a topwater polaris popper mid-Canal. AJ mentioned that there’s loads of bait around, including river herring, squid, adult menhaden (pogies) and mackerel (mostly at the East End and in Cape Cod Bay).
Those mackerel are “horse macks” reported Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. If they stick around, they will make great bait for big bass. In the meantime, fishermen are having a lot of fun catching 30-inch fish on topwater plugs in the morning around the East End.
Tautog fishing has improved after a slow start, and fishermen are finding scup out toward Cleveland Ledge. Most Buzzards Bay bottom fishermen are waiting out the rough weather and looking ahead to the sea bass opener.
Schoolies are everywhere, reported John at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth, but the chatter in the shop this week was about the prolific cinder worm “hatches” in the southside salt ponds this week. Great Pond, Green Pond, Eel Pond/Waquoit and upper parts of Popponesset Bay have all had cinder worms swirling and spawning on the surface this week in the evenings. Fly fishermen are loving the action and reporting good numbers of 30-inch stripers feeding on the worms.
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Over on the Vineyard, Peter at Larry’s Tackle Shop in Edgartown also reported excellent striper fishing on worm spawns in Tashmoo, Sengekontacket, and Cape Pogue Bay. Again, loads of schoolies with plenty of 28- to 30-inchers mixed in. The first bluefish were landed on the Vineyard this week, mixed in with schoolie stripers. Squid are stacked up in the Sound from Cotuit to Hyannis, but there hasn’t been much buzz about catches from the harbors, said Peter.
The Patriot Party Boat in Falmouth has been taking charters out for scup (porgies) and limiting out in the waters around Colliers Ledge. They’re also catching and throwing back some beautiful black sea bass. When that fishery opens on Saturday, May 20 (note the recent date change!) limits should be easy to come by.
Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Charters has been enjoying the phenomenal haddock fishing on top of Stellwagen Bank and then heading inside Cape Cod Bay to catch stripers. The stretch from Sandwich to Brewster has had plenty of schoolies and small keepers.
Freshwater fishing is good, and largemouth bass are beginning to get on their spawning beds. Pickerel are feeding heavily, perch and bluegills are active, and crappies are moving shallow as well.
Trout fishing continues to go strong, and some ponds were still being stocked as of this week. With most fishermen focused on stripers, you can have some excellent fishing to yourself and get away from windy weather on a protected pond.
Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod
The weather isn’t looking great for boating, with a Nor’easter in forecast for Mother’s Day. Luckily, it’s a great time of year to tie into numbers of stripers from shore, especially inside salt ponds and estuaries. Soft-plastic jigs, swim shads, topwaters, and all manner of small baitfish flies are working well on the schoolies. Herring imitations, like the Fin-S Fish and the Sebile Magic Swimmer, will help grab the attention of the small keepers that seem to be so numerous this spring. Once the weather starts to improve, fishing should break open. With black sea bass opening on Saturday May 20, boaters have a lot to look forward to.