I know the weather’s hot and the calendar reads August, but we’re creeping up on that time when the fishing begins that switch from summer doldrums to fall blitzes. The first sign of that has been the influx of tiny baitfish all over the Cape recently. Just about all the shops and captains this week mentioned small peanut bunker, and picky stripers feasting on them. The second sign was the report from Larry’s Tackle of the season’s first albie, taken by a boat fishermen around Martha’s Vineyard. Billfisher Tackle on Nantucket also reported a false albacore this week. The fishing is ramping up all around the Cape, and should just keep getting better as we approach the new moon.
Of course, it’s hard to imagine the offshore and tuna fishing getting any better than it already is. Captain Steve from Chaser Offshore Fishing said he’s heard of great tuna fishing in Oceanographers, Hydrographers, Atlantis, and west Atlantis canyons. There have been big numbers of yellowfin, along with some bigeye, marlin, and swordfish being caught.
Bluefin are still running large east of Chatham and around Stellwagen, but there were a few more reports of recreational-sized fish this week, although many of those were still flirting with the 73-inch limit. Live bait is the top tactic, but fishermen have begun catching some on spinning gear as well.
Mahi are holding under floating structure at the Dump according to Pat from Eastman’s Sport and Tackle. While you can catch them by trolling smaller lures around lobster pot buoys, many fishermen like to drift and cats jigs or poppers at the structure for some fun light-tackle fishing. If heading out for mahi, have some tuna and white marlin gear handy, as Captain Steve from Chaser reported that the warm water had brought some big pelagic north from the canyons.
The Hooter seems to be filling up with bonito. Pat at Eastman’s reported that his co-worker Evan nabbed four bonito and many blues at the Hooter on Wednesday. Some bonito have moved in closer to the Vineyard, with a few being taken from shore this week. Eastman’s, and Amy at Sports Port had also heard of a school of bonito popping up near the West End of the Canal.
The albie report is interesting. We’re about 10 days ahead of last year’s early arrival of false albacore. Over the next week or so, we’ll see if that catch was an anomaly or the sign of another early run. Either way, this time of year, you should never leave the dock without an albie rod rigged and ready.
Small blues are all over the South Side. Amy at Sports Port said shore fishermen in Osterville were treated to a bluefish blitz earlier this week. She also said shore fishermen have been catching scup and northern kingfish. The kings are a small member of the drum family. Most being caught are 12 to 16 inches. They have small mouths and will hit a variety of baits including squid, clam strips, or worms. They are also great eating.
Look for kings along the South Side or Buzzards Bay sandy beaches.
There are still some schoolies off the South Side, though the very warm water has pushed some of them out. The ones being caught can be found blitzing on the schools of small peanut bunker inside the harbors. Fishing eels along the Elizabeths is the best shot for a striper over 28 inches, reported Pat from Eastman’s.
Captain Mel True of Fishnet Charters has been fishing eels along the South Coast and has found some great striper fishing lately. He said there’s been a big mix of sizes from 25 inches to 45 pounds. There are a tremendous amount of schoolies and blues along the South Coast, Mel said.
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Monomoy is holding some slot-size bass, as is Cape Cod Bay, reported Amy, but the bigger fish in Cape Cod Bay are holding deeper, she said. The fishermen having the best luck have been trolling. Amy reported countless 20-inch schoolies throughout Cape Cod Bay and in Barnstable Harbor, often within range of shore and kayak anglers.
Captain Kurt Freund of Fish Sticks Charters has seen an improvement in the action with bigger bluefish making their appearance. The highlight of the week was a busman’s holiday trip to Nantucket Shoals for fluke when Captain Richard Cascarino and Kurt caught 9 keepers, including an 11-pounder.
Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys has been tallying some impressive numbers of bass in Cape Cod Bay recently. He said he’s had to burn some fuel to find them, but when he does, the action has been hot and heavy with schoolies and slot-sized fish.
Ross also found some jumbo bluefish feeding off Race Point this week Fish of 36 to 37 inches.
The Canal fishing has stayed the same throughout most of the summer. Slower stretches with small fish punctuated with some decent fishing, usually toward the west end, reported Nathan at Red Top Sporting Goods. A recently development has been the influx of smaller stripers blitzing on small baitfish. These bass have been pretty picky, and Nathan recommended scaling down lure sizes. He’s had luck with smaller pencil poppers, and said that long-casting metals like the Crippled Herring are also a good choice. A school of mackerel moved through the Canal this week, bringing some better bass with them, and Nathan said that fishermen using Magic Swimmers did well.
Bottom fishing has remained constant, with slow fluke fishing and good sea bass fishing, particularly in the 80- to 100-foot depths.
Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod
There’s another tropical storm eyeing the East Coast, and depending on its track, it could mess up the offshore fishing later next week. So, if you can, get to the canyons now, because there’s no guarantees on how long this epic fishing is going to last. There’s already been about a month of tuna madness out there.
Closer to shore, you can count on the bonito fishing to continue to build. Keep an eye out for albies. Their presence has already been confirmed. My first photos of false albacore were taken on August 24th last year, and they’d been here for a few days before I watched Kevin Blinkoff catch his first of the season. Maybe that pattern is repeating.
Regardless of your target, be it bass, bonito, blues, or albies, smaller offerings will be your best bet. Small peanut bunker and silversides are thick all over, and the fish are keyed into them, sometimes ignoring all but the smallest, most realistic offerings.
From shore, soaking clams off a sandy beach could help catch a northern kingfish. These were always one of my favorite fish in the summer surf in New Jersey, not only to catch, but to eat as well.