Pictured above: Maren and Colin McCaughey, ages 8 and 6, with a 28-inch striped bass caught (and released) on a live mackerel in Gloucester.
The dog days aren’t what they used to be. For every angler defaulting to the dog days drivel as an excuse for why he’s not catching, there’s another ecstatic about the striped bass fishing. One South Shore shop owner is calling the bass fishing right now the best of the season – so far! Considering that there are no projected heat waves on the horizon and that many feel that “the run” begins later this month, we may not have to contend with a lull after all!
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters said that there is no shortage of tuna on the bank but ruthless “dogs” of all sizes are ruining the show. If a bait is dropped deep, you can bet a spiny dogfish is going to find it. Up top, the “dogs” are quite a bit bigger as blue sharks are making short work of mackerel staged higher in the water column. For those who know Stellwagen, these are strange days indeed. The caveat, however, is that Charlie is there too, thankfully! The skipper does have school tuna in his sites as he has fresh intel of fussy “fun size” fish by the Golf Ball. He’s betting that rigged ballyhoo will lead to their undoing.
What has gotten easier is inshore striped bass fishing as mixed sizes of stripers are swarming throughout Scituate Harbor and right next to the slips! Pete of Belsan Bait in Scituate is calling the current striped bass fishing the best of the year (so far). Mackerel are as close as the first bell once you clear the harbor! Boaters are getting the blues by trolling plugs or mackerel between the 21 Can and Minot Light. The bass continue to play it close to shore, putting surf fisherman on a near equal footing with the fleet. “Blurple” needlefish worked at night are accounting for some nice shore fish from Peggotty Beach, the Glades, Minot’s Beach, Black Rock Beach and Gunrock Beach. The “Cliffs” are always a solid option also. Pogies are around, with latest reports putting them in the Duxbury area, but another school was observed on the move by Sunken Ledge.
Captain Jason Colby has unleashed the new, larger and faster Little Sister on unsuspecting fish populations on the Westport side of Buzzards Bay. Limits of big black sea bass have been child’s play over wrecks and rockpiles provided that they’re is current and a nice clam-chum slick sent out to lure them in. Fluke have been hitting red/pink Gulp! baits.
Massachusetts Greater Boston Fishing Report
While pogies are the most prized baitfish in these parts for big bass, persnickety fishermen are making sure they top off the livewell with the readily available mackerel before they search for stripers. There are bursts of big blues but nothing you can plan for which may explain why there are still mackerel in our midst.
Lisa from Fore River said that the catching has been pretty good off Thompson and Spectacle islands. Pogies have invaded the Town River, Fore River and Wessagussett Beach. Stripers are not always with the bait, but a school of pogies is good place to start. While it hasn’t been a stellar squid season thus far there are some signs that things are improving. I know of a North Shore squid fanatic who filled up pail the other day for the first time all season, so it might be a good time to revisit Nut Island and Pemberton.
While most of the flounder faithful have packed it in until next spring, a few are still finding flatties next to Rainsford Island at the channel that transitions from 20 to 40 feet.
Jake from Bobs Bait Shack in Winthrop said that even more pogies have moved into Boston Harbor over the last few days. They can be found around Deer Island and throughout the inner harbor. So far however there is nothing to speak of deep inside Winthrop but should we get walloped by more bass and blues, expect the predators to drive the bait farther inside towards Crystal Cove and into East Boston. Usually when the bait is pushed into such skinny water, the action gets explosive! The run between Yirrell Beach out through Revere Beach continues to be one of the more reliable for both blues and bass. The results during a recent outing were different than you’d expect with the more “open water” blues in tight to the boulder field between Short Beach and the breakwater while bass were feeding out deeper in Broad Sound! Captain Paul Diggin’s of Reel Pursuit Charters has a “nose” for mackerel and he has been finding them by Flipp Rock, Graves Light and most recently the BG Buoy yet again.
Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
Tomo of Tomos Tackle told me of a terrific topwater bite for toothies off Broad Sound! And the blues are gators! The kayak crowd is catching in Nahant Bay, Preston Beach and Philips Beach. While some are live lining pogies and mackerel, some of the better bass and blues are falling for the venerable tube and worm! Pogies remain hunkered down in the mooring field of Salem largely unmolested by bass. However, a friend of mine who killed them last year in his kayak did not really catch until the 3rd week of August, which will be here before you know it!
Skip from Three Lantern Marine said that the bluefin bite remains best off Platt’s Bank! Insiders are foregoing finding pogies or mackerel before they make the haul out there and instead jigging up whiting and herring on site. It only makes sense to offer them the exact thing they are feeding on! Pogies are still around, even if not nearly as plentiful as before the purse seiners had at them. Some of the better bass are being bested by those tossing eels into irregular bottom at night in Gloucester Harbor. Flounder can still be found in the harbor and there are even encouraging reports of squid off the piers at night, finally.
Thomas from Surfland said that current along with early morning outgoing tides are perfect for better bass at the mouth of the Merrimack River! There is no shortage of bait in the Plum Island area with plentiful pogies from the ocean front to the mouth of the Merrimack River. Those looking for mackerel are having an easy go of it! The shop has weighed in a number of bluefish to 15 pounds and they’ve been encountered on both the Plum Island and Salisbury side.
Captain Chris from Manolin Charters is a mackerel-first skipper but he never passes on a chance to put a few pogies in the livewell. Recently this paid off during a slow bite when he encouraged a patron to put a pogy right in the middle of sprinkling baitfish, to which he was rewarded with a 47-inch, 40-pounder
Massachusetts Freshwater Fishing Report
Patrick Barone of Early Riser Charters has been putting patrons into wild brook trout in the Swift River. Experience has taught him that those natives this time of the year begin staging in preparation to spawn and they begin migrating from tributaries into main branches of the river. The 7 – 10-inch natives he’s seeing now will be joined by larger in time. Some flies which are working are midges in the morning and subsurface stuff at mid-day. Hopper imitators are a good choice as are “stimulators”.
Eddie of B&A reminded me of what an under-appreciated gem the ‘Chu is during the summer. In some ways, the laker catching is easier than in the spring. In April, the fish are spread out and chasing smelt and could be encountered most anywhere. If you know the deep holes than chances are you’ll find the fish all bunched up now. Deep spots can be found off Gate 8, 13, 22 and 35! Bring a 1-ounce spoon and see if you can’t find a lair full of hungry lakers! The other option is to bring comfortable shoes and walk the shoreline working a spook type lure or you favorite topwater in search of smallmouth bass.
According to Rod from Flagg’s some are doing just that in the Quabbin and catching slab smallies by Gate 31. A few do the very same thing at Lake Mattawa and catch well also! Salmon hover under schools of smelt and white perch fry in about 40 feet of water at Q’ drop-offs.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Thankfully the only “dog” in this week’s forecast are the spiny dogfish and blue sharks swarming on top of Stellwagen!
Scituate Harbor is a best bet for bass on the South Shore with a live mackerel the preferred bait. Pogies continue to cruise into Boston Harbor and not surprisingly so are bluefish. Winthrop through Revere remains a winner for both blues and bass! Kayak anglers are doing well with a tube-and-worm off Swampscott and Marblehead. For a chance at Charlie, take the steam out to Platts Bank but hold off on the bait until you arrive on site. The whiting and herring in the area are a sure ticket for tuna success!