Massachusetts Fishing Report – July 16, 2020

Massachusetts Fishing Report

While it’s not rocket science, it could be considered rudimentary fishery science. As expected, the east wind was en elixir for the dreaded doldrums that most had been experiencing during the heat wave. The skunk took a back seat to the cow, at least temporarily, but with the sizzle expected to re-emerge, all bets are off for this weekend.

While my buddy Dave Flaherty who lives on the North Shore speaks perfectly good English, the combination of rollers, dropping water temperatures and big bass reduced him to a stammering, incoherent specter of his usual self when he alerted me to epic fishing the other day. While every other sentence began with “dude”, I gleaned enough from my exuberant friend to know that I had better make haste and join him. The fishing certainly lived up to it’s billing and the fish were fat from feasting on the plentiful forage. Such is the wonder when that wind whips in from the east. Enjoy the cooler water temperatures while you can and try not to look too far ahead at the prolonged weather forecast.

Frank caught this fine striper while aboard Fire Escape Charters.

Massachusetts South Shore Fishing Report

According to Captain Mark Petitt of Fire Escape Charters, the most common striper among the Three Bays is a 25- to 27-inch fish with the emphasis on the common part – they are everywhere. There are some grazing cows, with a live pogy or mackerel the preferred bait to root out the larger from the smaller fish. Blues are mainly of the smaller variety; however, if you’re groveling for a ‘gator spend some time by Race Point which has larger toothies of many types.

Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish echoed the previous report regarding cookie-cutter mid-20” fish, which are numerous from Scituate through Cohasset. Mark’s employing tinker mackerel among those schools knowing that should a big fish be in the vicinity it most likely won’t pass on a mack. However, it’s the haddock fishing that remains especially noteworthy with those fish west of Stellwagen in 190-200’ of water and the fish are big. In fact, the captain is seldom finding shorts. On the bank there are giant tuna lurking with the crew recently catching and releasing an estimated 95-105-inch fish. Always the conservationist, the captain does not recommend you even try for these tuna unless you’re ready to “overpower” them with 130 series combos and have the means to resuscitate the fish before release.

Pete Belsan from Belsan’s Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that surging water temperatures have brought in an unexpected visitor to the South Shore – namely bonito up to 2 pounds by the NR Can. Some serous stripers up to 50 pounds have also been taken among pogy schools by the NR Can and through the ledges of Hull. In the Minot Ledge area, tinker mackerel can be found as well as schoolie stripers shadowing the schools.

In addition to the occasional run to Nantucket Shoals, Captain Rich Antonio of Black Rose Charters has been finding plenty of haddock in the “mud,” which is Stellwagen-speak for the softer bottom sections of the bank. He’s also been finding no shortage of sharks from blues to porbeagles, mixing in a trip of groundfish as well as shark for patrons.

In spite of warming Westport water temperatures, Captain Jason Colby has found a nighttime eel striper bite in the river aboard his Little Sister. There are mixed sizes of fish in a largely ignored location from schoolie to slot-sized to drag pullers, making this a something for everyone spot. The big black sea bass action continues to be impressive with trophies and limits almost a foregone conclusion.

Zach Silbert with a Buzzards Bay black sea bass taken aboard the Little Sister.

Greater Boston Harbor Fishing Report

Skipper Sam from Boston Saltwater told me of a tinker trick that might separate him from a few others for choice mackerel baits and that is – he’s doing a lot of chumming! That chum is allowing him to find macks under tough conditions from Flip Rock out to the B Buoy. The X Factor has been X-Raps that the crew is deploying before they are even procuring baits. The proof is in the catching and Sam’s been putting patrons into 50” fish along with slot-size specimens.

Lisa from Fore River Bait in Quincy said that in spite of striper fever, a few anglers are switching it up and catching squid off Nut Island and black sea bass from West Gut and Hull Gut. A few blues have made seek-and-destroy runs into pogy schools off Wollaston Beach and by UMass.

Jesse Depina with a 50” striper caught aboard Boston Saltwater.

Most harbor anglers are hell-bent on live-lining pogies for bass but Captain Anthony Ahrens of Chasin’ Tail Fisheries is the exception. He prefers tossing a mackerel into the menhaden mayhem, all of which he’s finding not far from his launch from Marina Bay. Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows and Top Knock Pencils are the preferred artificials on his boat.

Crystal Berrios boated this nice bass while fishIng with Reel Pursuit Charters.

Captain Paul Diggins of Reel Pursuit Charters is sticking to what has worked for him all season – trolling Mojo Rigs and Rapala X-Raps – and still finding big fish between the NC Buoy and the BG Buoy. For slightly smaller fish – and possibly more action – Paul suggests Revere Beach. The slug of fish off there could be just the thing for the small boat angler or kayaker who can’t access the humps.

The average GPS couldn’t keep up with Captain Coombs as Brian is as likely to be putting his Get Tight Sportfishing Tidewater among Amelia Earhart pogy schools as he is off Egg Rock herring schools. He surmised correctly that the east winds would push in cooler temperatures and a few cows from Nahant through Marblehead, and that’s exactly where the fish were recently.

Mark from Monahans Marine mentioned that this has been a better Boston black sea bass season than in years past. Hull through Quincy have been the epicenter for this quarry and Spro Bucktail jigs rigged below a dropper loop/teaser have been killing it with many of these fish keepers.

Brian Harrington caught this harbor cow on a live mackerel.

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Forecast

Gavin of Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that the recent east winds picked up the bass on bunker bite all along the North Shore. Two best bets are Marblehead and Misery Island. There are random bluefish attacks but it’s usually the handiwork of snappers. Recently while tossing a Doc off the North Shore rocks, I kept getting blasted by 20” blues. It was hilarious to see a snapper jumping out of the water with a 9” plug sticking out of it’s mouth!

Captain Tom Ciulla of T Sea Charters recently clued me in on brief bluefish-on- bunker bedlam off the Eastern Point of Gloucester recently, unfortunately these spates of success are more random than anything else.

Skip from Three Lantern Marine said that pogies are plentiful from the breakwater of the harbor out into Ipswich Bay with the trick being finding the schools that hold stripers! Schools tight to the shoreline or up against islands or ledge are easier for the bass to dispatch and worth taking a look at.

Ben from Surfland said that surging water temperatures have put an end to river/estuary/upstream striped bass fishing for now. The open ocean is where it’s at and there are signs that the recent east winds lit a fuse. Bigger bass continue to prowl near the pogy schools with some successfully targeting those schools with mackerel. In spite of the heat, macks are holding in there off Breaking Rocks and across the border by Hampton Shoal Ledge. Those macks are perfect bite-sized tinkers, too.

Haddock and catch-and-release cod have been hot for the Legit Fish crew.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

Your best bet for a banner bass outing is to get out Friday or early Saturday before the prolonged heat wave strikes. Seventy-degree water temperatures will not be your friend. However, just maybe those big blues off Provincetown will push north and sniff out the pogy schools. As I’m finishing this, I got word from my friend Captain Jason Colby of a bonito blitz along the Westport side of Buzzards Bay – oh my! With word of those funny fish in Scituate, local heat may bring them here as in years past. Meanwhile until things cool down again, avoid the sun like the plague if you have any hopes of striper success and if things go sour prey for an east wind and the shot in the arm it always brings with it this time of the year.

7 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – July 16, 2020

  1. Robert Aiello

    Been out many times and there are tons of schoolies but fewer slot fish. One note. I have been adhering to the circle hook regs but frustrated at the amount of guthooks I have had. Never had this ration with jj hooks etc. Sad to let these fish go knowing they wont survive. And I am using live macs most of the time not chunking

  2. Joe Street

    Any info on Vineyard sound and the Vineyard, also Nomans would be greatly appreciated.

  3. Logic 0.5

    Hi Robert, I have observed the same thing With circle hooks and live Mack’s and have provided comments to the rule makers only to have my field observation about gut hooking stripers with circle hooks ignored or worst yet disputed.

  4. Doug Russell

    50% gut hooks on circles. Never happened on a well tended J hook. They are legislating for the least common denominator of people who leave the rod in a sand spike and don’t set up on the fish before the hook is swallowed.


    I went 11 for 20 last week on gut hooked fish with circle hooks.

  6. Same thing

    Yep the circle hooks are BS. We gut hooked like five Schoolies on the boat the other week. One of them died while we were still fishing that spot and floated up. Oops. Nanny state. As soon as that thing hit we would’ve set the hook right into his lip on a treble or even a j. Instead it slides all the way down and they choke it so when you go to set the hook you just end up killing them. Yeah yeah I get it you’re supposed to just reel down with the circle or whatever. Let the other guy Above said it’s like they expect you to have it in a rod holder in the sand doing nothing. Really stupid rule. If anything it’s even easier for them to choke the circle hook

    1. ^

      Btw This is for a live Macks not cut bait. Totally different the way they hit it. The circle hooks don’t make sense for live bait

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