Bass fishing remains as good as it gets whether that “bass” is decked out in Buzzards Bay black or Boston pin stripes!
Finding pogies has increasingly become the ticket to catching a big bass but just as no two pogy schools are the same, it seems as if no two sharpies are employing the same technique. Increasingly shore and kayak fishers are getting in on the fun with their success coming exclusively after dark making for tired yet happy anglers.
Massachusetts South Shore and South Coast Fishing Report
Captain Jason Colby is finding far more life in the Westport side of Buzzards Bay than in years past. The species list for an outing is often dizzying and can consist of scup, black sea bass, bluefish, fluke, stripers and tautog. Should you be on board the Little Sister just be on guard for a certain Dalton Clayton who has a tendency of catching as if he was employing a purse seine – he’s that deadly! Just make the most out of the times he’s re-baiting or having a sandwich and catch quickly! The big news in that section of Buzzards Bay is the volume of fluke and “personal best” black sea bass that patrons are catching and best of all this is all happening in shallow water.
Regarding fluke, Captain Rich Antonio of Black Rose Charters has added a new venue/quarry to his wheelhouse – Nantucket Shoals fluke. Rich is obviously a fast learner since on his maiden voyage he culled out ‘mats up to 9 1/2 pounds! He’s also still taking customers out for Buzzards Bay sea bass, fluke, Cape Cod Bay stripers and offshore haddock and sharks.
According to Pete Belsan from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate, pogies are the end-all for culling out those cows. You may have to scout about for the “right” pod but when you find it, big bass will be with the bait. That “right” qualifier means a school which is tightly balled up or swimming in a tight circle, those are usually the meanderings of menhaden trying to avoid a massacre. Latest big bass spots have been as varied as Sand Hill Beach, Flatt Ledge, Minot Light and the 21 Can. There have also been more accidental catches of keeper fluke from Duxbury through the North and South Rivers. Should you want to try something different such as a fluke, consider bouncing along the bottom a jig tipped with squid or a Gulp swimming mullet by Damon’s Point of the bend in the South River closest to Rexhame Beach.
On Wednesday as we spoke Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters was just cruising out with a charter and was planning on a “Scituate Sandwich” of sorts for his patron which included inshore haddock – backside of Stone Ledge – and pounding pogy schools along the South Shore shoreline in search of stripers! This was hardly experimental as the skipper has been dialed into this type of fishing all season.
Captain Mark Petitt of Fire Escape Charters told me that the main mass of haddock are migrating more to the northeast and can more consistently be found on Stellwagen than CCB. Interestingly the captain is finding more black sea bass in the bay than is usually the case. The few who are using smaller bait/jigs in Boston Harbor are reporting the same thing! The Three Bays are loaded with sub-slot striped bass with the bigger fish more apt to hit a pogy in Duxbury Bay. For a shot at a larger linesider Mark suggests you pay rapt attention to your electronics and look for prey with predators lurking beneath the bunker.
Greater Boston Fishing Report
Not everyone is experiencing what some are referring to as epic fishing for big bass in Boston. The devil in those details is often very small but can pay off in larger fish and more of them. If you watch the commercial anglers who are really good at killing big striped bass, they’ll drop multiple lines with live pogies boatside, stick another one in the school and once hooked up pull the fish in while leaving the other lines in the water. Bass will often shadow hooked brethren, and while frenzied, inhale one of the other hooked baits. It can look like the proverbial fire drill but it’s awfully effective. Regardless, it’s imperative to search for a school of pogies under duress and once hooked up to a pogy should you not hook a bass in a few minutes shake free of the bait and chase down the school again. Back in the day when bluefish were a factor it would often pay off to linger behind the moving menhaden as lingering stripers would scoff up the scraps from the toothies but that is no longer a reality.
According to Captain Sam from Boston Saltwater the superb harbor striped bass fishing remains hot! The skipper has been putting 50” fish on his boat. Mackerel numbers are thin but can still be found among inshore edges such as by Flipp Rock and the 2 Can off Nahant. The procuring of these prime baits often pays off by weighting the macks below marked fish. Deep diving plugs among the outer harbor are working well and of course so is sticking with the pogy schools. As for a hint as to how to effectively fish the pogy schools, Sam said that a “Fast pace with lots of reeling up and moving” is of utmost importance.
Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing continues to pluck out cows among the fleet, even on “commercial days” when the fleet grows exponentially. This week he treated patrons to “ho-hum” fish up to 48-pounds! You know you’re on a roll when a lack of a nifty-fifty means you had a “down” week! With the volume of pogies, bass are having a tendency to move back and forth between deep water by Graves Light/BG Buoy and through the Dredges and back again. Searching is imperative.
Matt from Monahans Marine beached a 40-pound class striper recently on a live eel from one of the Greater Boston beaches. Nights matter and choice beaches according to Matt are Nantasket, Winthrop and Revere. Kayakers such as Steve Langton of Melrose have sniffed out some inshore cows as well with eels and Hogy Slappy Eels doing the catching.
Captain Paul Diggins continues to wreck havoc on harbor cows and he’s all in on artificials with deep diving Rapala X-Raps and Mojo Rigs working well. The Reel Pursuit Charters skipper is finding that the fish are on the move from pogy pod to pogy pod and are as likely to be found by the North Channel as they are off Broad Sound, the BG Buoy or Egg Rock.
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Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
A text-book example of what it takes to find those pogy-pounding stripers was on full display by my friend Captain Tom Ciulla of T Sea Charters on a recent trip we took. We scorched the water on Wednesday, burning up a goodly amount of petrol between Cape Ann and the harbor and found tons of pogies and tons of boats but we didn’t see a heck of a lot of catching. Tom’s technique is to stick and move among the menhaden mob until he finds one under duress. If there’s no action within about 15 minutes we bolt. It wasn’t until we lucked into Long Beach and the acres of pogies there that we found hungry fish and big bass at that! Along the way we saw long faces and crowded pogy schools but not much action. This is one time when AADD – angling attention deficit disorder – pays dividends!
When Jonas isn’t messing with whales he’s tending to Tomo’s Tackle in Salem and providing impressive fishing reports! Not surprisingly he told me that it’s all about the pogies and finding the right school. Recent blow-ups have occurred in Nahant Bay, Devereux Beach and Gloucester Harbor. Every once in a while, a small bluefish crashes into an offering but they’re more accidental then anything. There have even been bonito taken including a 20” specimen caught on one of it’s “cousins” – a tinker mackerel.
The word from Three Lantern Marine is that there are plenty of pogy schools with stripers and some are in as close as Gloucester Harbor. Some impressive feeds have been taking place off Magnolia, Good Harbor Beach and Thatcher Island. Southern Jeffrey’s offers plenty of groundfish action for haddock and the grab bag of gadoids such as cusk, pollock and various hake.
Nick from Surfland Bait and Tackle said that some are snagging pogies and if there are no predators with the school, they are taking them inshore to Joppa Flats or Plum Island Sound and catching cows! Mackerel have made a resurgence and make an effective bait alternative. With the inline circle mandate from the DMF in play, pogies can be tough to hook a bass with. However, gaining purchase with slimmer-profiled and smaller mackerel is a lot easier with a circle hook. Mackerel are as close as Breaking Rocks.
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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
For variety along with a whodunit bait grab it’s hard to top the Westport side of Buzzards Bay. Squid is a great bait but Berkeley’s Gulp Swimming Mullet is effective also. On the South Shore pogy schools from the Three Bays out through Scituate are the key to a cow. Boston’s big bass bedlam continues but it often takes time to find a pod of pogies with predators on them. The North Shore quite possibly has the highest volume of pogies in the Bay State and with mackerel making a resurgence off Plum Island finding bait is not a factor. Suffice to say when you find stripers whether it is off Thatcher Island or Sandy Point they don’t look exactly as if they have been on a diet!