Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 19, 2022

Nothing kickstarts the striper season like a good old bass, bait and bird blitz! From Plymouth to Plum Island, anglers are feeling the rush that only comes from tossing a lure into bedlam while anticipating a strike with every turn of the reel! While not as visual, winter flounder fishing is every bit a right of passage in these parts and the jury is already weighing in and calling this year – promising!

Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report

After several dud flounder years on the South Shore, it’s awesome to hear Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate talk of glowing reports. Green Harbor, Scituate Harbor and Cohasset Harbor are all fishing well on the flatfish front. In fact, similar success is being echoed all the way into the North Shore (and beyond!).

Hunter Thayer
Hunter Thayer has been having his way with slots in the Three Bays.

Regarding stripers some are feeling that now that the full moon, big tides and ridiculous wind are behind us, bigger bass will be in the offing. Hunter Thayer’s results in the Three Bays are lending credence to that thinking as he’s been tallying 45 fish outings with plenty of slots – and that’s from the suds! For haddock, Pete suggests that you snoop around structure between Stone Ledge and the Weather Buoy. With plenty of bait available, especially brit herring, some theorize that the haddock are keeping on the move between structure. Divers are reporting a lot of tog off Bryant Rock, Cedar Point and off Minot. The shad run remains a good one in the North River with plenty of schoolies in the mix.

Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters said that mackerel remain a tough target on the South Shore with first light just outside of the harbor a best bet to find them. Of course with the volume of surface feeds and willing stripers, there is less of a need for mackerel just yet. According to Mark, haddock averaging 17/18” can be found as close as 3 miles out but you have to find the right “rockpile”which will hold them; Stone Ledge is a nice place to start the search.


Greater Boston Fishing Report

When you choose to earn your living putting fish in the boat it tends to make you pretty good. On a recent haddock junket, Captain Jason Colby limited out the crew of the Little Sister, (including the captain’s catch) and before whittling down those haddock to a mountain of fillets cruised into the harbor so that the gang could occupy their time catching flounder! Wow, did those folks ever leave with bags of scrumptious fillets!

Jim Wright
Jim Wright took this nice tog while aboard the Little Sister.

He’s also finding tautog and suspects there just might be a pile or two lurking around rockpiles in Quincy Bay. For those more interested in fowl than fish, the official mascot of the Little Sister – Bird – is back for at least the 12th season! Anyone who has been aboard the skipper’s boat in the harbor is well aware of Jason’s pet Great black-backed gull named nondescriptly as – Bird!

Captain Jason Colby’s pet “Bird”
Captain Jason Colby’s pet “Bird” is back on the bow for the 12th season!

This guy is no ordinary gull and must have some eagle in him since he reigns over the region and takes no guff from any contender. Yet he’s as gentle as a parakeet as he carefully takes clams from the captain’s hand. Watching their long-term relationship will forever alter your attitude towards our wild feathery friends!

It’s one thing for a pro to do well with winter flounder, but according to Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett, anglers from shore and boats are all having an exceptional year. Peddock Island, Long Island, Deer Island, Lynn Harbor and Swampscott are all serving up flounder. Pete’s shop is a Mecca for the urban angler and many of his regulars are catching all kinds of stripers among the myriad of parks which dot Boston’s inner harbor. Other than the catching, the other common thread is that these guys are using the shop’s unique Vella rigs! Regarding deeper water groundfish, apparently, the mighty American Classic is setting sail again out of Lynn Harbor for haddock, pollock and a host of other denizens of the deep.

With gas prices as they are, it’s nice to have a quality head boat so close to Greater Boston.

Charter Captain-in-the-making Christopher Bee
Charter Captain-in-the-making Christopher Bee caught this nice slot while aboard Get Tight Sportfishing!

The business of catching fish in Boston would not be complete without a window into Captain Brian Coombs adventures. Aboard Get Tight Sportfishing striper fishing has been great with blitzes in places too numerous to list! The size on average is good also with year class 2015 – 27” – 29” – figuring prominently in the catch. Coinciding with the black sea bass opening on Friday the skipper will be spending a lot of time in Buzzards Bay where he’ll be running combination black sea bass and striper trips!

Victoria Passmore
Not to be outdone, Victoria Passmore also has been scoring slot stripers while fishing with Get Tight Sportfishing.

You have to respect a bait shop owner who’s not minding the shop because she’s out fishing! When I called Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy, I learned that Lisa – the keeper of the reports – was playing a bit of hooky at the Town River hoping she could catch a striper or two. A short while later she texted me that the mission was accomplished! The Quincy/Hull side of the harbor is hot with the class of fish weighted towards slots. Shore spots such as the Harborwalk, the ribbon of parks among the rivers ands Nantasket Beach, Hull Gut and Wollaston Beach are all giving up fish! Flounder are cooperating as well with the conundrum being which to fish for!

• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Of course, not all begins and ends with the salt! My friends Billy “Bass” Eicher and Steve Langton have been having their way with some impressive largemouth bass just north of Boston. Perch-colored Rapala Jerk Shads and X-Raps have been the go to offerings. It is a transition period for Larrys with some males still guarding beds while the bigger females are beginning to feed again. My buddy Paul Cuzzupe was launching his canoe the other day in the Merrimack with the goal of testing out his recently tied Cuzzupe Clousers when he spotted two hardcore carp guys – Brian Rand and Fred Powers (no relation!) – who had pulled an all-nighter and also pulled in some insanely big carp! Their carp concoction of an oatmeal and corn mix looked so good it had Paul’s stomach grumbling. The options in that river is bewildering! Downstream however it’s all stripers with plenty of slot fish from the Lawrence Dam all the way to the mouth.

Brian Rand and Fred Powers
Brian Rand and Fred Powers recently caught and released these two Merrimack River heavyweights!

Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle told me that an awful lot of anglers are targeting flounder successfully from Lynn Harbor, Swampscott, Salem, Beverly and Cape Ann. It’s’ increasingly looking like a good year for flounder all around. Stripers from schoolies to slots are easy pickings with surface feeds common throughout the North Shore. Not much is going on in the mackerel front but with so much surface action no-one’s complaining. Should you head out to Jeffrey’s Ledge for haddock, bring jigs and go light with the bait – I’m hearing of dogs already!

Steve Langton
Steve Langton with a nice post-spawn Greater Boston Larry.

Matt from Three Lantern Marine said that flounder in Manchester and Gloucester Harbors are keeping anglers busy. Better bass are now filtering into Cape Ann with slots now part of the equation. Surface activity in the harbors is on the upswing and there are pogies in Ipswich Bay. A few mackerel can be found but no mobs as of yet. Expect the back-shore to give up that first corker of a striper soon!

As anticipated, it was a banner weekend/week at Plum Island! The combination of surging striper numbers and ideal early outgoing tides made the mouth of the Merrimack the place to be according to Martha from Surfland Bait and Tackle. The fish are similarly sized as the rest of Massbay with most anglers pleased at the amount of slots in the mix.

• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

While maybe not technically the “most wonderful time of the year”, for fishers it has to be in the top 3! From the Three Bays through Ipswich Bay there is no shortage of striped bass or blitzes! Right up there with that generalization is that those fresh fish are famished and feeding with reckless abandon making the “what on” almost academic. The one caveat to always consider even this early is that the larger fish will almost always be feeding below the smaller. So weight your wares so that you can work deeper in the water column or current if you hope to catch a bit bigger than schoolies. Flounder also are the rage in Green Harbor, Quincy Bay, Lynn Harbor and Gloucester Harbor. Regarding a big bass bait source, mackerel are filtering in while pogies are somewhat present as well. The freshwater option is still out there with post-spawn female largemouth bass beginning to cooperate and crazy big carp in the Merrimack the current heavyweight!

9 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 19, 2022

  1. Alan

    The “Bird” is a great story! I may book a Charter just to meet (him or her?)

  2. Steve

    Ron, good report as usual.Hearing from so many reputable sources gives us confidence. It’s a treat to have so many options this time of year from shore , boat or yak on fresh or salt. Let’s go!

  3. Walleye

    The three bays have slot fish now and they are fat! Tight lines.

    1. H.T

      The amount of slot fish continues to blow my mind! I went out last night and had a field day on topwater (with some custom poppers I made this past winter). Fish up to 32 inches in the mix and a lot of them!

      Tight Lines

  4. Ron

    Oh Bird is a him all right and while accepting of his queen, never lets her forget that he wears the crown! Funny stuff!
    -Ron

  5. Rich

    Big fish heading up the rivers after herring . 42 inch 29 pounds. I got on outgoing tide plum island.

  6. Walleye

    Took my Marine corps buddy out this morning on the three bays and found multiple bird piles with stripers under them until the winds kicked up. Tight Lines.

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