Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

While still early, it’s looking as if its going to be a pretty good year out there. If you can’t catch a striped bass in Massbay, check your offering – just maybe a prankster sprayed fish repellant on your bait! As you’d expect, this week brought a bump in numbers and size with mid-30” fish now a reality! Haddock can still be found in close but are starting to drift off to deeper water while those focusing on flounder are starting to whisper “limits”!

Massachusetts South Shore Fishing Report

While I have no news on bigger South Shore bass, considering that there are fish in Boston Harbor now more aptly described in pounds rather than inches, it’s a pretty safe bet that drag-pullers are now in residence here as well. It only makes sense that if you want a fish big enough to to scoff down an 11” alewife than you should target the herring runs.

Layla DeVincent first striped bass
Layla DeVincent of Saugus with her very first striped bass!

Captain Mark Petitt of Fire Escape Charters said that his first charter on Monday will be where the rewards are greatest, namely fishing for haddock just east of The Gurnet. There are still some haddock hanging in there barely more than a mile from shore but if you’re looking to take advantage of this you had better act fast as there are signs that the fish are beginning to move east.

The Three Bays have plenty of roving schools of mixed sized schoolies with the larger fish concentrated in the rivers which hold herring. Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters said that there are mackerel “out front” big enough to almost eat some of the “diapers”. Those catching schoolies are matching the small bait hatch with brit herring and silversides the primary forage. Haddock remain in close with big cod mixed in among rockpiles and ledge. Mark hasn’t heard a peep about any pelagic activity but he’s betting that tuna will be in town any day.

Finally Captan Rich Antonio of Black Rose Charters is planing on setting sail next week for Buzzards Bay as he’s hearing of hot black sea bass fishing along with can’t-miss striper fishing. Pete Belsan said that there was an abbreviated and premature “Memorial Day Massacre in the Scituate area with rolling bird, bait and schoolie blitzes resulting in quite the show! Pete’s betting that the combination of a New Moon and southwest wind is going to light a fire and bring in bigger bass. And finally a flounder bite has livened things up in Green Harbor, Scituate Harbor, Peggotty Beach and the Cohasset/Hull area.

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Greater Boston Fishing Report

Captain Jason Colby has now been limiting out on flounder without any problem and best of all he’s finding flounder most everywhere he’s looking! In addition to Quincy Bay, the always reliable Deer Island flats has been paying off as well. He brings both clams and worms with fish showing a preference that often shifts even during a tide: so bait one hook with clam and the other with seaworm until a pattern becomes obvious. There are also numerous “nuisance” schoolies to 26” crashing the flounder party. There is no escaping the reality that more flounder and less net rash on the resident fish is an unexpected windfall of less dragging! Another indicator off more inshore life is that “Bird” the apex, Great Blackback Gull of Quincy Bay – 10 years running – and the official mascot of Little Sister Charters has been too full on sea herring to accept handouts from the captain. Bird, however, the gregarious guy he is, still seems content to just hangout on the bow with the crew.

Captain Jason Colby
An “incognito” Captain Jason Colby is limiting out on flounder most every trip!

Regarding “birds” the Humminbird side scanner on Captain Brian Coombs Get Tight Sportfishing Tidewater has been giving him an edge when trying to figure out where the harbor blitzes are going to surface. If you can mark the fast moving schools of herring before the feeds ignite you can often anticipate the blitz before it’s obvious to the rest of the fleet! He’s been taken to fly casting clousers as well as tossing topwater plugs such as his maxed out Jumpin’ Minnows and Hogy Pro Tail soft plastics.

Captain Paul Diggins is planing on his maiden voyage next week now that For Hire restrictions have been lifted. Birthed at Constitution Marina, Reel Pursuit Charters is close to the herring runs of the Charles and Mystic Rivers which are two early season cow magnets. He also plans on running-and-gunning after surface feeds which right now are taking place between the Lower Middle and South Boston.

Lisa from Fore Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy said that the tip-off that flounder are cooperating is in the amount of seaworms the shop is moving. The usual suspect spots – Hangman’s Island, Portuguese and Perry Coves, Hospital Shoals and Deer Island Flats – have all been productive. Keeper striped bass are now moving into the herring runs! Early risers should have no problem jumping into blitzes in the Nut Island area.

Dan Vinegar striper
Dan Vinegar of Methuen has been putting in the time and was rewarded with a nice herring-eating harbor striper!

Because of the great flounder fishing, Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett has been tying so many Zobo rigs he’s been getting blisters on his fingers! That Zobo rig is a keeper and the only rig I use for flounder. In addition to boat brigade, the shore folks are catching flounder throughout the Revere, Lynn and Swampscott area. Bigger Boston bass have now sniffed out the herring in the rivers. Soon cows will round the offshore bend and cruise into the NC Buoy, BG Buoy, Graves Light area mugging mackerel and sea herring along the way as they come inshore. This will be a rare opportunity to get into a deep-water/topwater bite for big bass! There is already some signs that Seal Harbor May be holding better bass.

Matt from Monahans Marine in Weymouth said that shore anglers are catching plenty of schoolies along with the occasional keeper in the Weir River, Weymouth Fore River, Weymouth Back River and Neponset Rivers. Shallow beaches are heating up in many ways and will be one of the earliest spots to catch an early cow.

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Sam from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that in addition to schoolies swarming the rivers there are fish now off the rocks from Nahant through Cape Ann. Mackerel are spotty but can be found off Nahant and Salem Sound. Pogies are present in better numbers than is typically the case in May and can be found from Lynn through Gloucester. Haddock are in close with some small craft owners finding them in among 80’ holes in tight to shore. Flounder fishing is simply better than past years with good reports coming in from Lynn, Swampscott and Gloucester Harbor.

Every year I prod my Surfland friends for news on flounder and am usually disappointed but not this year as Martha told me that the mouths of rivers are holding flounder with the Hampton River the hotspot. The outgoing tide is still awesome for schoolies along with the occasional bigger bass in the Merrimack River, especially at the mouth. Interestingly anglers are in an exploratory mood and they are finding fish in backwaters such as Blackwater Creek, Nelson Island as well as the Essex and Ipswich Rivers.

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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

Salty fisheries on many fronts are downright impressive at the moment. For an in close haddock bite, look for rocky bottom/bait almost as soon as you clear the Three Bays as well as Scituate Harbor. First light feeds are a common occurrence throughout the South Shore with small bait drawing most of the fire. Tackle-testing stripers can now be found in Boston Harbor with rivers supporting a herring run especially hot. Just in time for the holiday weekend is news of hot harbor flounder fishing especially by the Deer Island Flats. On the North Shore the big news is the appearance of the ultimate big bass bait – bunker! There is no word yet regarding rushed pods of those pogies but that with alewife-eating herring now in attendance, it’s never too early to put a pogy on the line.

8 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

  1. Steve

    Lots and lots of Schoolies from Salem to Rockport taking surface poppers (Storms, Creek Chubs) of different sorts (on shore we were….not in a boat) this past week. A few blitzes last Sunday morning around Gloucester with pogies being the target. I saw many fish being caught with the biggest in the mid 20″s or so. My biggest was 24″. They’re backkkkk! Wow-Whee! Physical, mental and fishing health to all.

  2. Fishwish

    Loads of sub legal sea bass in buzzards bay the hump heads will be here soon

  3. Hunter Thayer

    Another week down, another round of striped bass filtering through. A lot of fish up to 27 inches feeding on white tsunami paddle tails, al gags and savage sandeels. Crush those barbs, bust out the light tackle, and have a blast. Only going to get better…

    Tight Lines

  4. D M

    Any ideas on public access for Cape Ann. I usually fish in Manchester, but I live in Beverly. Seems like Manchester is on complete lock down or it would be residents only. BTW that fish caught in Boston from the dude from Methuen looks to be possibly over 35″, so I hope he threw it back. Itchin to be fishin…

  5. Tootsie

    Large blitzes between Nantasket Beach and Minot light on Wed & Thurs. Dense clouds of silver sides were under attack by an army of 20-25″ stripers, 1 lb mackerel, and thousands of gulls and cormorants. Same area on Friday was a ghost town.

  6. Steve

    The Pointers Sisters said it best: “I’m So Excited!” Seriously, I haven’t seen it this good at this point in May for many years now on the North Shore from shore. I hit a long-lasting, but intermittent blitz this morning from roughly 6:00 a.m.- 7:30 a.m. at dead low. Caught four Stripers on poppers: 26 1/2″, 15″, 29″ and 25″. Smaller sized herring as the bait, I believe, but a copious amount of them! I KNOW that there were bigger fish in the mix as they were riding the flat and calm surface all morning. So, let’s get at it with best wishes!

  7. Brett

    Non-stop destruction on crystal minnows and x raps here on the south shore

  8. fred picco

    Is the restriction on private vessels lifted in Boston Harbor. as to the number of occupants and whether they have to be from a single household group.

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