“I got a fever, and the only prescription is more bluefish.”
I’ve probably overused that classic line from the SNL skit with Christopher Walken, but only because I can’t think of a better way to portray bluefish fever.
There are scattered schools of blues from Buzzards Bay to Hyannis, and until they move out or stop biting, I probably won’t spend too much of my time targeting striped bass. Although the coveted striper reigns supreme as the favorite target of New England surfcasters, I find the madness of blue-fishing to be just a bit more enticing. If you read last weeks report, you know that already.
Bluefish have been feeding heavily on squid, so I’m throwing topwaters that are predominantly white or pink in color. Although when I’ve strayed from squid colors, they haven’t seemed to mind.
Fishing around flats and small inlets seems to be the key to locating the blues. As aggressive as they can be, some days are tricky. Because they’re so keyed in on squid, it can be hard to trick the blues into eating a plug; personally, I’ve found slower retrievals with aggressive pops and prolonged pauses to be the most productive.
Bass are feeding on topwater as well. This weekend I was able to do some fishing on a friend’s boat with OTW’s Jack Burke. The bass were aggressively hitting soft plastics, like Albie Snax and Hogys. To get a better idea of how the fishing has been elsewhere on Cape Cod, here’s the rundown from our local charters and tackle shops.
Cape Cod Fishing Report
Captain Mel True of Fishnet Charters in Buzzard’s Bay reports: “The topwater bite is still good for giant bass and blues. We had bass into the 40-pound range crashing topwater plugs. The sea bass fishing is good, but I am still waiting for the huge schools to show up. I expect the best food still yet to come.”
Morgan at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reported that the early morning striper bite has been best by the railroad bridge on the Cape Cod Canal, and open water striper anglers are finding lots of big blues mixed in with the bass. Hard plastics are recommended, as soft plastics are being shredded left and right. The black sea bass bite has been good, although it seems to be mostly smaller fish in shallow water. For bigger, better keeper sea bass, fish around 35 feet. There have been flurried reports of some fluke around, mostly coming as sea bass bycatch, but that bite should pick up soon.
Jim from Patriot Party Boat in Falmouth reports that the scup and sea bass bite is starting to slow down a bit. Scup are becoming harder to find, but there are big ones around. When you do find them, they’ll be in thick. The sea bass have been biting in deeper water, around 35 feet or so. Patriot Party Boat is also finding keeper striped bass close to shore.
A.J. at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said the Cape Cod Canal saw lots of big fish last week, but the bite slowed down this weekend. What was a successful morning bite turned into an afternoon bite, which AJ says is pretty rare. But again this morning, anglers reported lots of near slots and mid-slots from the canal, keyed in on rain bait. As for black sea bass in the bay, the bite has been decent with lots of shorts coming over the rail to catch a few keeper fish. The water temperatures are still cold in the bay, so until it warms a bit, those bigger sea bass will remain just a little further out in deeper water.
Elena Rice at Reel Deal Charters in Truro said their boats have been doing well with striped bass fishing. They’ve seen lots of activity on jigs, which is great, because Elena says it’s typically all live bait that produces a bite this time of year. Their top producer has been the new Ron-Z paddletail, which has been catching tons of bass in the 24- to 32-inch range, with the occasional over-slot in the mix.
Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports: lots of bluefish in Nantucket Sound around Hyannis, and plenty of stripers in the harbors and bays. Soft plastics on topwater seem to be producing well. There were some good size stripers being reported on the north side of Cape, also coming on topwater. Black sea bass fishing has been good in the Nantucket Sound; anglers are finding success with high-low rigs and squid, or jigs tipped with Gulp. The fish are coming over the rail in numbers, and most are keeper size or bigger. There have even been some giant scup in the mix. On the freshwater front, largemouth fishing is going well in most kettle ponds as the fish move shallow to spawn, with success coming mostly on hard plastics, like Rapalas or the Berkley Hitstick.
Captain Ross at Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reported that they’ve been landing good striper well into the 40-inch class, and have been getting plenty of keepers as well. When they’re not out of stripers, they’re catching jumbo black sea bass and even caught a few 22-inch tautog recently as well. The bigger bass have moved in and are hitting topwater plugs and soft plastics in the rips.
Captain Derek Simons of Seastriker Charters in Yarmouth reported that he has been catching lots of big blues while slow trolling around Hyannisport. When looking for stripers, he’s fishing out in Monomoy and catching bass on topwater.
Captain Kurt of FishSticks Charters in Martha’s Vineyard reports:
“I finally managed to get a new motor after my old one died rather suddenly near the end of last season. With help from good friends and some very good luck, I got a new Mercury Verado 300 V8. Many thanks to the folks at Eagle Marine and North Marine and all the friends and family who helped me through a long, anxious off-season. The first trip with the new motor was a weekend on Cape Cod Bay with my friend Craig Przysiecki, fishing for winter flounder. We limited out both Saturday and Sunday with fish to 17 inches and many over 14 inches.
I had my first charter of the season on Sunday with Steve Trevor and his son, Jackson. We had perfect weather and great fishing for bass in the rips. Most of the fish came on topwater plugs, but soft plastics worked too. I assume the fish were eating squid. I didn’t see squid jumping, but I did see a gull come up with one, and one of the fish yakked up something that looked like it might have been a squid. The best surprise was the size of the fish. Most were less than keeper size, but not by much, and two were keeper size. One was a just-barely and the other was much bigger. I didn’t take time to measure it, since we were releasing it, but it seemed like it was close to, if not a bit over 35”. We also got one nice bluefish.”
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Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
I anticipate bluefish hanging around until there’s simply no more squid for them to eat. Once we get a stronger push of menhaden, there’s no telling whether or not the blues will stick around, but I can dream. What we can look forward to, is more bass in the 40-inch class moving into places like Buzzards Bay. The water in the bay is still cold, so things haven’t “heated up” (pun intended) just yet, but don’t let that keep you from giving the Canal a try. There’s been plenty of action around the West end of the Canal since last week’s report, with most of the action from near-slot fish on smaller rain bait. However, when the bigger bait moves in, so will the bigger bass.