Seemingly immune to the vagaries of the weather, striped bass of all sizes continue to cooperate. Even rivers running brown from runaway runoffs come nightfall become killing zones with some of those stripers real beasts! Not all options begin and end with stripes however with alternatives running the gamut from great groundfishing to canyon tuna.
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
Several contributing captains to this report have gone off the edge, but no need to worry…they actually chose to! The edge, of course, in this regards to is a moniker for the deep water canyons that border the Gulf Stream.
Captain Bruce Calvin of Strike II Charters has been having his way with school bluefin off the Dump with pink and black squid bars doing most of the damage.
Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters however has had his sights on Veatch Canyon where the target has been more diversity of tuna including yellowfin and bigeye. On the edge you are liable to catch darn nearly any pelagic that swims off the Atlantic, with many viewing an opportunity to fish there the high-water mark of sportfishing in this part of the country. Captain Mark also said that haddock continue to be in close with the need to measure fish almost unnecessary since the fish continue to be big.
Captain Jason Colby has not quite been pushing the Little Sister that far out but he’s still sampling some exotic stuff with trips to Rhode Island Sound for a rare combination of knothead black sea bass and cod. The sight of those two in a cooler is a surprise that never grows old. He’s just waiting for word of a Gulf Stream warm water eddy to spin off to bring mahi mahi into Coxes Ledge and when that happens, he’ll be there.
Stripers continue to please in the Westport River with a neat mix of schoolies, slots and slobs. Regarding slobs, Pete of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that there’s a lot of striper activity for 20- and even 30-pound stripers. While pogy numbers have evaporated, the volume of mackerel have more than made up for it and they remain the ticket to a terrific day for stripers. The Cliffs as well as inshore ledge such as Tobias Ledge, Collamore Ledge and Enos Ledge are producing good action. In spite of the incessant rains, rivers are still producing fish so long as anglers are fishing at night on the flood. That “brown” water during the day seems devoid of life but come dark stripers travel upstream to feed.
According to Captain Mark Petitt of Fire Escape Charters if you want action then the Three Bays are it with loads of willing linesiders in the 25- to 27-inch class. Snapper blues are part of the bargain now as well. For larger, CCB is the way to go with macks the magic bullet. Haddock are plentiful and well west of Stellwagen Bank, in spite of it being July.
Regarding haddock, I did not expect long-term Black Rose Charters captain Rich Antonio to tout a terrific trip as “best ever” but that’s exactly what he had recently. The sweet spot for him is about 210’ of water and even better he’s seeing busting bluefin off of the Black Rose. This is prompting him to offer patrons are Charlie/haddock combination. Charters have the possibility of duking it out with a tuna as well as heading home with some impressive table fare.
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Greater Boston Fishing Report
The harbor seemed liked the hub of all things pogy with the future bright because the pogy fleet had reached their seasonal quota of 5,479,487 pounds in late June. Looking forward that appeared to be good news because just maybe that would mean we’d have a quality fall run of striped bass so long as there were pogies present. Big bass from up north will only linger locally if there are their preferred prey source – pogies – present in large numbers. However, the Division of Marine Fisheries applied for and was granted permission to allocate additional quota to the commercial industry of what has been rightly referred to as the most important fish in the sea. The shame is that Boston is the only place north of the Cape which has (had!) a significant population of pogies. If, like me, you find this unfair, then let the DMF hear it by emailing them at email@example.com or call at (617) 626-1520.
According to Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing, packs of hungry big bass were observed on Wednesday searching for food as the pogy seiners along with a “mother ship” scooped everything up in sight in the middle of the harbor. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these fish will move on without the pogies. Brian still has been picking off nice fish with pogies when he can find them and especially with mackerel. The inner harbor has fish as has the outer harbor humps and up north past Egg Rock.
Captain Sam of Boston Saltwater is burning up a lot of gas and covering a lot of water but the results of his patrons proves that the effort is well worth it. He’s picking up mackerel at the Nahant 2 Can as well as Flip Rock and all the way out to the B Buoy humps and targeting deep water cows by the BG and NC Buoys. The flip side has been an inshore bite by Kelly’s Rocks, the West Gut as well as Bumpkin Shoal Ledge. Again, he’s covering a lot of water! When tailoring his trips to younger folks and quantity of fish, the PR Can, President Roads and Spectacle Islands have been doing the trick.
Captain Paul Diggins of Reel Pursuit Charters is trolling up nice fish with green Rapala X-Raps for customers near bait balls of sea herring and pogies (when he can find them). He’ll start inside and if nothing’s doing he’ll transition to the outer harbor beyond the Triangle. When the monsoons relent, the crew is doing plenty of catching but the weather remains the determining factor. The kayak posse is slinging soft plastics and serpents at night off Greater Boston beaches such as Nantasket, Wollaston, Winthrop and Broad Sound and catching and releasing cows.
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Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
According to Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle inshore striper sharpies are doing well off Revere, Lynn and off Swampscott as well as Marblehead. The tube and worm and mackerel are working well by day while eels are the trick at night. While not great, a few cows are being picked off near mackerel aggregates off Salem Sound and out through Cape Ann. The key to the mack attack is to lengthen and lighten the leaders to 30 pounds and employ a 1-ounce egg sinker.
Skip from Three Lantern Marine told me that the giant bluefin bite on Stellwagen Bank has been good but being so early in the season the fish are on the thin side. A livewell of mackerel are no problem with plenty between the Groaner and the Spindle. Thatcher Island has a nice mixed size striper feed going on as does Milk Island. For more consistent cow action, finding the mackerel schools or the increasingly rare pogy schools are the key to better bass. Groundfishing on Southern Jeffrey’s Ledge remains strong with big pollock joining the good year class of haddock. Maybe best of all it that dogs are not much of a factor. Consider dropping a strip of mackerel down deep.
Captain Andy of Adventure and Catch Charters out of Great Bay marina in the Granite State has been having a very impressive halibut season. There have been numerous hookups, heartbreaks as well as landings. A recent account he told me of was riveting and a window into how powerful these beasts are. One charter had what was estimated to be a 100-pounder on for a 10 minute thrill ride with multiple spool-dumping plummets to the bottom. Slack is the nemesis to landing these fish and when the charter slipped up just a bit, the big flatfish shook off! Andy packs stout conventional gear loaded with 200-pound braid and he’s actually expecting to hook these leviathans.
Liz from Surfland Bait and Tackle said that in spite of the chocolate milk-colored Plum Island Sound and Merrimack River anglers at night are still catching quality stripers. Big soft plastics and eels remain the go-to offerings. Boaters drifting the mouth of the Merrimack River with mackerel are doing well as are anglers trolling the shoreline of the Parker River Wildlife Reservation. As for the caster contingent, only Parking Lot 1 is open as of yet with bait soakers catching mixed sizes of striped bass.
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Incoming tide among the rivers whether it is the Westport River, the Eel River or North River is ushering in cooler, “green” water and with that plenty of striped bass making those rivers among the better bass bets for South shore and South Coast anglers. For boaters the Three Bays are among the best for schoolies while South Shore ledges such as Collamore make for good cow ambush points with mackerel by day and eels at night preferred choices. Now’s a good time to plan a canyon run with a variety of tuna there for the taking; fortunately you won’t have to search the On The Water website for long to find a charter captain to take you out there (find one here!). In spite of the dwindling pogy presence in the harbor finding a pod is often the key to finding the cows. Mackerel in close off Kelley’s Rocks and on the south side of the harbor by Grape and Bumpkin Islands has been paying off. Mackerel bait balls in Ipswich Bay are a wise choice to find big bass but at night Plum Island Sound as well as the Merrimack River are producing. Tuna on Stellwagen Bank are making their presence felt and while on the subject of a formidable fish – there seems to be a bit of an uptick of halibut on Jeffreys Ledge.