above: Paul Caruso cradles a big black sea bass taken last Saturday, on the opening day of the season.
Wet and windy weather didn’t stop the fish (or fishermen) from hitting Cape Cod in force this week, and with the weather turning around in time for the holiday weekend, it’s bound to be a good one for fishing.
Tommy at Maco’s Bait and Tackle said, “Come ‘n get it, the fishing is great.” He expounded on that saying the Canal has been pumping out stripers from small schoolies to 20-plus-pounders.
The East End has been best reported Jeff at Canal Bait and Tackle, but fishermen have been catching throughout the whole length of the Big Ditch. The “breaking tides” this week helped with the good fishing, and the tides should be good through the weekend.
Hot colors in the Canal have been green mackerel and white, and the top producers have been Savage Gear Sand Eels, Tsunami Deep Shads, Daiwa SP Minnows, Sebile Stick Shadds and Magic Swimmers, and pencil poppers.
Part of the what’s drawn the bass into the Canal has been mackerel, which are present in huge numbers in Cape Cod Bay according to Jeff at Canal.
Captain Ron from Bucktail Fishing Charters was out catching mackerel when I called him on Wednesday. He was loading up for future trips, explaining that he’s had great success with mackerel chunks, as well as live mackerel.
Captain John from Cape Cod Bay Charters has been using live mackerel as well as jigs to tempt the hordes of 30- to 32-inch stripers hanging from Barnstable to Billingsgate.
Awesome day with some big fish mixed in with a lot of recreational stripers. Great day to spend with the family before the chaos begins!! 🎣💙 @captainelena @garminmarine @hanta.rods.and.lures @mercurymarine @vanstaalofficial @goosehummockshops @stormrusa #capecod #fishing #fishingcharters #bobbyrice #goboldly #familyovereverything #sundayfunday
While most of the fish fall into that small-keeper-size range, Captain Dan of Salt Shaker Charters caught fish as large as 42 inches this week by casting Slug-Gos to imitate sand eels.
Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters has been hooking into big stripers around Cape Cod Bay as welDespite all the bass and bait, Dan hasn’t seen any bluefish yet.
Bluefish were scarce all over Cape Cod this week, with the bites on the South Side and on Martha’s Vineyard fizzling out, perhaps because of the strong winds from the east—when fish bite the least! While that old sailor’s tale is not cold, hard fact, many fishermen do experience a drop in fishing productivity when the wind goes East and the water gets choppy.
Fortunately stripers in these areas. Peter at Larry’s Tackle Shop on Martha’s Vineyardsaid there are bass all around the island, but the South Side is producing some of the most consistent action with bass in the 30-inch range with a few approaching 40 inches. Bucktail jigs and soft plastics have been working well on the South Side. Bass around the Vineyard are feasting on a variety of baits, including squid, which recently moved into Edgartown Harbor.
Captain Kurt of Fish Sticks Charters had a great first trip of the season catching plenty of bass from just shy of to just over 28 inches at Middle Ground by casting with soft plastics and SP Minnows. HE then switched over to sea bass just long enough for everyone to get a few fish for the cooler before moving to a different area and continuing to catch stripers.
Amy at Sports Port had heard of a few big blues falling to poppers and Kastmasters in the Cotuit area. Fishermen working the South Side beaches early and late in the day have also been catching stripers to 32 inches Amy reported.
The most reliable fishery in Nantucket Sound right now is undoubtedly black sea bass. Amy said there are huge numbers of sea bass holding over the rough bottom areas, and though there have been many throwbacks, there have been some very large “knothead” sea bass in the mix.
The Nantucket Sound sea-bassing has been on fire, reported John at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle, but Buzzards Bay was fair to middling for the season opener on Saturday. Reports trickling in mid-week suggested the Buzzards Bay sea bass bite was quickly improving. Along with the sea bass, a few keeper fluke were caught this week as well, and blackfish are still in the mix. If hitting the water in Nantucket Sound, John recommends Collier Ledge for jumbo scup and sea bass. As for the striper fishing, John said the South Side and Cape Cod Bay beaches have been a fly- and light-tackle fisherman’s paradise with the huge numbers of schoolie stripers around this spring. The outlets of salt ponds and bays the most likely places to find the schoolies, but keep your eyes on the water, because these scrappy stripers could turn up anywhere.
This week, the rumor mill is churning out stories of squeteague in Menemsha Harbor that had reached the mainland Cape but not Peter at Larry’s. Weakfish are elusive and secretive, and so are the fishermen who target them, so a hot bite staying under wraps is the rule rather than the exception. There have been a few taken this year on Cape Cod, mostly smaller in size, but it’s a good sign that perhaps we’ll see an increase in their numbers next season.
Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod
If you’re coming to the Cape this weekend pack light—light tackle, that is. Enjoy the school striper bounty we’re experiencing this year, but take care to crush your barbs and release each fish with care so it can return to the Cape as a keeper, and then a cow, in the years to come.
Looking to wow guests at a Memorial Day Barbeque, pluck yourself a keeper black sea bass of some structure in Nantucket Sound—it shouldn’t be hard to do with a bucktail tipped with a strip of squid—and grill it whole using THIS RECIPE from our Living off the Land and Water Columnist, Andy Nabreski.