We made it. The snow, the cold, the weeks of unfishable skim ice, the “not much is happening” reports are behind us. It’s May, and Cape Cod’s saltwaters are coming alive.
Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
Schoolies arrived last week, and their numbers have been snowballing ever since. There have been some keeper-sized fish in the mix, and reports of big schools of small fish blitzing on the surface. Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing saw this first hand earlier this week. He reported acres of bass on top in Buzzards Bay. He and his crew caught plenty on fly and light tackle, with the largest measuring 27 inches, though Brian said a few of the hooked-fish followers looked to be better than 30 inches.
When we were talking stripers, Brian was filling buckets with squid in Nantucket Sound. The squid are in, at least for boat fishermen, reported Amy from Sports Port in Hyannis. The draggers that had been working the area hard over the past week have been ousted from the sound as of Wednesday, which should give the remaining squid a chance to move into the harbors and docks where shore fishermen will be able to catch them.
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Great recon trip on Cape today! Myself and @flyguyguide covered a ton of ground, we found plenty of happy sea lice laden #stripedbass willing to eat flies and #hogylures soft plastics. The 2019 striper season has officially begun! Its time to go fishing! #gettightsportfishing #minnkotamotors #onthewatermagazine #stripedbass #stripercup #flyfishing #hogyfishing #cheekyfishing
The arrival of squid in the sound used to be followed by a good push of bluefish. Amy had heard some bluefish rumors last week, with friends of friends reporting fish caught off south-facing beaches. Larry at Maco’s Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay had heard of small schools of bluefish in Buzzards Bay, and John at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth had heard some bluefish rumblings as well. John said he’s seen fishermen casting from the usual spring bluefish spots, though he can’t confirm any bluefish catches. Still, after last year’s non-existent spring bluefish run, these reports and rumors are encouraging.
John said the fishermen working the pond entrances are catching plenty of small stripers right now, and that many are “bright” fish, suggesting they are fresh arrivals from the south as opposed to holdovers. While there was some debate last week about whether or not the stripers being caught on Cape were residential or migratory, the sheer number of bass around is a pretty clear indication that the striper migration has reached Cape Cod.
Some small stripers have found their way into the Canal, reported Jeff at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore. Jeff said the fish have been hot on the tails of the herring making their way toward the Herring Run. As tends to happen when stripers lock in on herring, the fish have been a bit picky.
David at Red Top in Buzzards Bay had heard of schools of breaking schoolie stripers in Buzzards Bay, providing good fishing for boaters. Shore fishermen are finding good luck in the rivers, David said.
Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro caught his first schoolies this week, all the way toward the tip of the Cape, suggesting that stripers are filling in all around Cape Cod.
On the Vineyard, small bass continue to be caught on the south side of the island, with fish beginning to move into the up-island spots reported Melissa at Larry’s Tackle. Larry’s runs a contest for the season’s first bluefish that remains unclaimed as of Thursday morning. Melissa expects the first Vineyard blue to be caught within the next two weeks.
Mackerel are being caught in Edgartown Harbor and Menemsha, Melissa reported, and tautog fishing is good off Cape Pogue.
The tog fishing in Buzzards Bay is really heating up as well. Captain Mel True of FishNet Charters had a great trip this week, limiting out with fish to nearly 8 pounds. Mel said the tog fishing is good all throughout Buzzards Bay right now.
Larry at Maco’s said the scup, as well as the tog, are biting well in Buzzards Bay. Larry said the sea bass are in as well, but fishermen won’t be able to keep them until May 18.
Let’s not be too fast to forget the freshwater fishing. The “broodstock” trout have recently been stocked in many ponds, giving fishermen a chance to catch a 4- to 6-pound browns. David at Red Top caught a 4-pounder recently by swimming a ½-ounce Kastmaster slowly along the bottom.
When trout fishing this weekend, remember that some of these fish have been in these ponds for more than a month by now, and will have switched their diets to natural forage instead of looking for the pellets they were fed in the hatchery. This makes it a great time to fly fish for the rainbows with dry flies and nymphs. Browns will be feasting on juvenile perch and other small baitfish, making hair jigs and stickbaits the best option. And, gold spoons never seem to go out of style with trout—just be sure to fish them low and slow when the sun is shining.
Largemouths and smallmouths are still biting well, though many bass will be spawning by now.
Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod
Between the squid and blackfish (and haddock up North if you want to make the run) there are some great options for fishermen hungry for their first self-caught seafood meal of the season. The squid are best caught by boat in Nantucket Sound, while blackfish are being caught by boaters in Buzzards Bay and shore fishermen in the Canal.
Striper fishing continue improving with the upcoming new moon, which should bring better numbers of keeper-sized fish. Small lures and light tackle are the best bet for the schoolies right now, and be sure to release each one carefully to improve its chances of survival. 99% of the stripers being caught right now are way short of keeper sized, so crush your barbs to make the unhooking easier on you and the fish.
Some southwest winds would help fishermen confirm the bluefish rumors, but we aren’t forecast to get any over the weekend (at least not right now). Still, it could be worth casting topwaters from a south-facing beach some afternoon. If the blues are a no-show, you can always hit a pond entrance for some schoolie action.