Cape Cod Fishing Report – September 10, 2020

Above: Tom Piccolo of Red Top weighed in this 18-pound albie over the weekend. The albies have been running large this year, and there have been several 12-pound-plus fish reported. 


While the weather felt like summer, the fishing reports had distinctly fall feel this week. Schools of fish blitzing under flocks of birds was a common sight around the Cape over the past week. Those blitzes consisted of albies, bonito, stripers, blues, Spanish mackerel, or bluefin tuna.

It seems like a big number of smaller bluefin have moved in over the past week. Fishermen east of Chatham, off Stellwagen, and South of the Vineyard reported seeing big numbers of 30-some-inch tuna. Captain Steve of Chaser Offshore Fishing said that trolling was working best on the small bluefin, but some anglers were catching them on spinning gear.

Steve also said some yellowfin tuna had drifted north from the canyons and were feeding in the shipping lanes. In the canyons, Steve reported a big wave of wahoo that moved in. Joe Gugino of Costa Del Mar sunglasses stopped by the OTW office and shared a wahoo he caught in Welker’s Canyon over the weekend. Andy Nabreski sliced it into sashimi and made some poke bowls for the crew.

Closer inshore, big bonito and big albies are around Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Peter at Larry’s Tackle on the Vineyard said the bonito were hanging at the Hooter, having been pushed out of the inshore waters by the albies. He described the current state of the false albacore fishing as “insanity.” The fish have been good size, and there have been blues mixed in. Peter said the hot lures have been the Shimano Coltsniper Jigs and the Game On EXO jigs. White and glow have been especially hot colors, Peter said. He recommended State Beach and Chappy as places to look for the albies.

From Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters:

“The highlight of the week was a charter that included a trip out to the Hooter. Sam Flamand and his friends, Chris and Adam, teamed up to catch a single day Grand Slam. We got several bonito and bluefish at the Hooter. Then, breaking the rule “don’t leave fish to find other fish,” we headed inshore to look for albies. We got one pretty quick, so with 3 of the 4 species and some time left to fish, we went to look for striped bass. And we found one!”

Sam Flamand with the bonito portion of an inshore grand slam caught with Captain Kurt Freund of FIshsticks Charters this week.

On the Cape side, the albie fishing seems to be changing day to day. Jim at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle said there have been short-lived feeds at first light on the South Side of Falmouth this week. Nantucket Sound, off Hyannis, seems to be fishing a little bit better right now. Jim noted that boats had some good action with albies off the West End of the Canal on Wednesday. There were some big fish in the mix up there, as AJ at Red Top sent us a picture of an 18-pounder weighed in at the shop this week.

I had plenty of shots at albies in Buzzards Bay on Sunday, but in the same location Monday, the fish had practically disappeared. Albies were popping up off Waquoit on Wednesday, but were moving fast and were very picky. Many fishermen salvaged their days with Spanish mackerel, which have been showing both off the South Side and in Buzzards Bay, often within casting range of shore.

In addition to the albies, there are tons of bluefish in Buzzards Bay according to Jeff at Red Top. There are even some big blues along the Elizabeth Islands, reported Ross from Cape Cod Charter Guys. Ross has been seeing breaking fish every day there and throughout Buzzards Bay, and has been having good trips catching a mix of bass, blues, albies, with some bonito and Spanish mackerel. Some of the albies have been so big, Ross has had to chase them down in the boat.

There was some better bass news this week. Miggy at Maco’s Bait and Tackle reported good bass coming from the Canal after dark on eels and jigs, with some topwater action at first light. Miggy suggested using loaded Cordell Pencil Poppers and paddle tails like the Savage Sand Eels.

Jeff at Red Top said there were keepers joining some of the schoolies in the Canal, and that he’d heard of slot-size stripers off the South Side. On the Vineyard, bass over 20 pounds have been taken from the surf in recent days.

Black sea bass season is closed for recreational anglers, but still open on for-hire boats. Tog fishing is picking up, reported Miggy at Maco’s, and he said the shop will begin stocking green crabs again.

Fishing Forecast for Cape Cod

We’re in the thick of the albie season, and while the hot spots continue to shift day to day, the fishing has been consistently good. Running over the Vineyard may be the best bet at the moment, or cruising through upper Buzzards Bay, but as more baitfish vacate the some of the big south-side bays and harbors, the stretch from Falmouth to Cotuit is bound to fire up.

While not all the bonito are hiding out at the Hooter, there have been some big ones mixing with albies, especially along the Elizabeths. Also down there, Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys reported schools of halfbeaks being chased by blues and albies. They are a favorite food of bluefin tuna and white marlin, so finding them a bit farther offshore would be a good place to drop in a trolling spread.

Speaking of marlin, Captain Bobby Rice of Reel Deal Charters caught a big white marlin off Provincetown this weekend. The fish took a live mackerel meant for bluefin tuna.

Striper fishing should continue to improve. Nights will be the best bet for now, and live eels are a staple for big September stripers in the Canal, Cape Cod Bay, along the Elizabeth Islands, and pretty much anywhere you find bass.

The big blues along the Elizabeths have provided some fun fishing between albies, so be sure to pack some larger topwaters in case you find a bluefish blitz.

The 2020 Fall Run is off to a great start, and the best is yet to come.

22 on “Cape Cod Fishing Report – September 10, 2020

  1. Joe mack

    Still ” crickets” from you guys at OTW on the unbelievaly low commercial bass catch. The state opened another catch day for them to further extend their raping the biomass that is so obviously already depleated. We rec. subscribers far outnumber the commercials. Grow a pair and use your influence before it’s too late. 15 bass over 35”, are you serious?

    1. Paul Cuzzupe

      Great comment I’ve written several tactful emails to MDF, not one reply.They are ruining the fisherie

    2. BAD NEWS

      If you think anyone with a rod and a reel, 3days a week is killing the bass population you need to look at the facts. Do you think the Comm guys want the bass fishery depleted? A quota is set aside for a reason and there is science behind it to make sure the quota set does not kill the bio mass. How much quota do the rec fisherman have? They have and endless quota. FACTS

    3. Pete

      The recreational guys kill an awful lot of fish as well. I watched multiple people at the canal land bass, then walk them up to the bike path lay them in the grass to measure them then heave them back into the water. The fact that nobody is giving these fish a break is whats knocking the numbers down.

  2. Paul Cuzzupe

    Great comment I’ve written several tactful emails to MDF, not one reply.They are ruining the fisherie

  3. Fish4Fun

    Thank the lobbyists. I’m sure plenty of manilla envelopes with cash in them are behind it.

  4. isuck

    Newbie here – has the canal been incredibly bad this year? Another question – when it says should be fishing at night, is it literally in the a.m., or just right after sunset? Thanks.

  5. Joe Petner

    The recreational fisherman has no representation to influence the regulatory setting process @ DMF. I have called the Director everyday this week and no response. I have moved up the political ladder and contacted my state senator and representative. Message received- the recreational fisherman are the step children. The recent changes in the Sea Bass regs for commercial catch allowing additional days and additional catch limits show no concern for conservation of the species and this together with an extension for the Charter For Hire of a month is blatant disregard for us. CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATURES- we need a voice if we are to see any parity.

  6. BAD NEWS

    If you think anyone with a rod and a reel, 3days a week is killing the bass population you need to look at the facts. Do you think the Comm guys want the bass fishery depleted? A quota is set aside for a reason and there is science behind it to make sure the quota set does not kill the bio mass. How much quota do the rec fisherman have? They have an endless quota. FACTS

    1. Brian

      Fact-Not many bass around these day.

      Fact – Adding more commercial fishing days can’t help the situation.

    2. Bill from Falmouth

      I think we’re ALL killing the striper population, aided and abetted by 30,000 grey seals and 60,000 harbor seals (figures from a NOAA survey in 2018) in the outer Cape. Anyone who has fished in these Vineyard/Nantucket Sound waters for 10 years or more can attest to the rapid decline in large stripers. It is a fruitless argument as to who is more to blame – commercial or rec fisherman. We should all unite in some sort of effort to convince the authorities here and in other states to take affirmative actions to preserve the stocks. Even if it means closing down the fishery for any and all keepers for a few years. That is the effort and advocacy I’d like to see from OTW, from the bait shops and all of us. Just compare the stocks of stripers to, say, false albies, which all get thrown back. The false albies are getting bigger and bigger and more numerous every year. Doesn’t that tell us something about what can happen if we just don’t harvest the fish for a limited period? I’d love to hear others chime in here.

      1. Fred Lilienkamp

        Bill, I hear you and basically agree with your observation. I started fishing for stripers on the Cape around 1985 – that would be 35 years ago. Couldn’t find one. The rule was then 1 fish 36 inches or bigger. Couldn’t find a schoolie, much less a keeper. Acres of monstrous bluefish though. I was a rank beginner and had no idea how to really catch a bass.Forward 5 years, I finally caught a legal striper from Coast Guard beach. I had learned all about eels at night. All through the 90’s the striper fishing improved and by the late 90’s? the limit was changed to 2 fish min 28 inches. That held for a long time until recently. The point is, the very restrictive 1 fish >36 in. helped, as well as adjusting the Chesapeake Bay regulations, to bring the stripers back. Maybe that should be done again. To not being able to keep any stripers at all would cause many fisherman to say : “Why bother?”. This would seriously hurt the businesses that support striper fishing, that depend on fishermen coming to the Cape to try their luck (as well as the commercial guys). It would be even worse than now. I’ve already seen 3 bait and tackle shops close on the lower Cape when the limit was 2 fish at 28 in. No stripers at all could mean even more B&T shops closing, and less $ for the Cape economy. Not that I’m a business nut. Why don’t we give the slot limit idea a chance to work for a couple of years and see what the results are? Give it a chance? Then re-analyze the stock and see if the rules need adjusting. That’s my thoughts. – Fred

      2. Chris Hager

        Bill, You’ve got a point. If you think way back, like Fred below, late 70’s early 80’s, you couldn’t buy a striper anywhere near Chatham/ Nauset. In the late 90’s, they were wall-to-wall. Heck they were so thick you could walk on a striper carpet. And remember the cod disappeared too!
        Now, if you go down to the Chesapeake Bay, even the Potomac River in Washington DC, you can pull out all the stripers you want and they have stricter regs on keeper fish as the Cape. Difference is: no seals and you probably don’t want to eat anything coming out of the Potomac. AND: there are certain periods where you are not allowed to take specific sized fish.
        Bottom line: these fish do go through cycles, thanks to overfishing and other natural factors/predators. A stricter season would not hurt, limiting the taking of big bass during the spawning season would be a huge benefit.
        If you want to go even further, when you know you’re in catch’n release mode, treat the fish with respect and don’t take it out of the water.

        Agree, we need to see advocacy here (Yes, I mean OTW), not just headlines for the tourists on where to catch more fish. And if you/re worried about the bait shops closing, ban the internet.

  7. Donald Moore

    I agree with you Bill If a species is in trouble Leave it alone Common Sense
    Lets let our kids have a chance to catch cod & stripers… Do the right thing, but
    support our local commercial fisherman who depend on the fish to make a living
    by buying Locally caught Fish when possible. .

  8. alan

    Concerning posts about Striper populations, Might want to look at the seal population and the amount of Stripers they consume. 50k + seals x amount a seal eats a day is astonishing. And the feces they leave on the Ocean floor for 2 miles out ain’t helping either.

    1. Brad

      Study after study consistently shows that gray seals rarely, if ever, feed on stripers naturally. Sure, they have learned to opportunistically grab stripers that are caught as they are easy pickings for them when they are being reeled in. Let’s look at ourselves honestly, the recreational fishermen, and see the impact we have on striped bass through mortality from catch-and-release. What if we all, together, took one year off from striper fishing…think of what a positive impact that would have on the population (I’m not really suggesting that is a realistic option, just trying to put things in perspective). Let’s all do our part to ensure that stripers are there for our kids, their kids, and generations to come. Changing out barbed treble hooks with single, non-barbed hooks would make a huge difference…sure, more fish would spit the hook, but the catch-and-release mortality would drop dramatically.

  9. The Truth

    OTW has been proven USELESS as a conservation factor in the depletion of striped bass. Just like your average fisher, they take and don’t give back.

  10. SeaRobin7

    OTW is the new Teen Vogue . Seriously no substance , no backbone.

  11. BAD NEWS

    Look what happened to the TUNA population when the seiners went away. If they ended all net fishing up and down the eastern seaboard everything would be fine! Facts. It aint the guys with the rod and reel.

  12. Kencatch

    Rod and reel fisheries are sustainable period. Stop whining about commercial rod and reel fisherman. Start holding recreational fisherman to the same reporting standards as commercial fisherman to provide more precise data and give them something to actually whine about. If you think rod and reel fisherman have that big of an impact then sell your gear and stop fishing.

  13. chris

    Want a voice at the policy level for recreational fisherman?

    If you have a couple bucks to spare consider these groups to support the restoration and protection of estuaries and wetlands, to stop industrial polluters from saving money by killing fish and dumping junk in the waters we fish and eat from, and to push back against the commercial over-exploitation of shared marine resources:

    Conservation Law Foundation (sued MA to create the sewage treatment plant that bought boston harbor back to life – they are trying to save cod, and herring from midwater trawls – as well as menhaden etc)

    Coastal Conservation Association (mostly active in southern states but does good work at national level)
    American Littoral Society (does good work on wetlands and estuary restoration)

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