Ordinarily, in mid-June, a dearth of mackerel would be cause for concern. However, anglers surrounded by the bedlam of bunker-eating-bass have other worries, principally of which is whether their leaders will survive the abuse!
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
It’s not often that reports from Pete of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate are in the first-person context but this time it was him who was doing the catching! Last Friday began a week-long frenzy as big bass belted bunker all along the South Shore. As good an evening as Pete had, apparently, it only got better as anglers by kayak, boat and boot all got into the action. When asked where? Pete said that blitzes were random and at any time would push up from the Three Bays to Hull! He mentioned Minot and the Tar Pouch as two of the more productive spots. Not all pogy encounters have been going as planned with the appearance of tuna on the schools! This has kept shop line winding machines very busy.
Regarding Charlie, Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters told me that giants have indeed moved into Cape Cod Bay and one of the attractants he feels are – cod! It’s almost difficult to drop a jig towards a bottom over structure in Cape Cod Bay and not come tight to a cod and some of these fish are 20-pound brown bombers! Haddock however are not so numerous, and unless things change drastically, all told this year will go down as very poor and concerning! If anyone can find haddock it’s Captain Rob Green of Elizabeth Marie Charters and while no slam dunk he has been finding them east of The Muscles on Stellwagen. There are bluefish around but so far the only proof I’ve seen are chomped-up pogies and severed leaders!
Greater Boston Fishing Report
The news from the harbor is mainly good but somewhat concerning. Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing along with others have been finding all kinds of action as slots to lower 40” stripers shadow schools of pogies but the issue is the incessant pounding of the pogy schools by the seiners! The worry is how long this most valuable forage can withstand the effort. Thankfully and not surprisingly the fleet has already reached 85% of their quota which triggered the DMF to significantly reduce trip limits until the total quota is achieved. Timing of this may be fortuitous since Captain Coombs told me that there are reinforcements on the way as he has spotted huge schools of pogies just offshore which should be pushing in. When pogy schools are found between Wollaston Beach and the inner harbor it has been lock-and-load striped bass fishing with most everyone hooking up to good fish! Wollaston also has been the scene of several chomp-offs, most likely the handiwork of bluefish. Mackerel remain in short supply but as long as pogies are prevalent it will not be that big of a deal save those who are targeting tuna.
Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy said that shore anglers are catching well off Point Allerton, Hull Gut, Webb Park and at the effluence of Wollaston Beach and Black Creek.
While most have been swept up in the striper tsunami, the few who are poking around for flounder are still catching. Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett recommended Long Island for possible limits of flounder.
The rub on pogies is twofold: should you be oblivious to where the schools are you’re out of luck and the second is how to properly use hook a bass with such a big bait when employing a circle hook. When I asked Brian Coombs how he’s achieving his success rate he said he’s using the Fishing FINatics Vella Rig! He told me that the geometry and sharpness of the hooks that Captain Santini uses in those rigs are killers with 9/0 the ideal size hook for such a big bait!
For those who have fished the harbor for a long time it’s hard to envision our community without the DeStefano family and Skip A Dory. But with the untimely passing of Skip DeStefano, a memorial season-long tournament to benefit his young family has been set up. The cause, the prizes and yet another excuse to go fishing make this event a must!
Captain Colby has dumped his Little Sister into Westport River again so expect to see some amazing reports included in the South Coast section of this column! He ended his Boston Harbor reign this year with a bang as he tallied some huge haddock north of the B Buoy!
• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts
Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
The night shift, nocturnal cow chasers, are continuing to score some of the better bass around from Lynn through Swampscott, Salem and into Cape Ann according to Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle. Kayak anglers, shore slingers and boaters are all doing well with the determinant factor often being whether bait is present where you are wetting a line. After a couple of stellar outings, my kayak buds and I didn’t fare so well off a North Shore Beach Wednesday night. I knew of pogy schools just outside of the bay and my hunch was that the east wind would blow in the bait and the bass, but that was just not the case. The area seemed devoid of life and not surprisingly there were no sleigh rides that night – until after we left! Timing is everything and as we were landing I heard of other kayaks who had began catching! During the day however pogy schools north of Egg Rock through Tinkers Island and out to halfway rock have been under seige.
Matt from Three Lantern Marine told me that bigger bass are now in Cape Ann for the taking, with the finding of pogy schools mattering greatly. Pogies have been present off Magnolia, in Gloucester Harbor, just outside of the Dogbar Breakwater as well as by Thacher Island. A few cut-offs have been reported as well, a surefire indication that there’s a bluefish presence off our coast. Haddock had been inshore but that appears to be a done deal with the Fingers section of Jeffrey’s a best bet now. The shop is moving a lot of squid jigs and seaworms indicating that the squid and flounder bite is in fine shape.
Martha from Surfland Bait and Tackle said that several sharpies fishing chunk off the jetties have been bitten off! Those anecdotes keep pilling up from the South Shore through the North Shore which has me wondering when someone is actually going to catch one of those Houdini bluefish! Fish into the upper 40” range are now being caught in Joppa and off the ocean front with the former fishing best at higher tides and with eels as well as the tube and worm.
When using eels if trolling isn’t working for you consider casting! I like to refer to the sound of a bait hitting the water as the “splat affect”! An eel touching down onto the surface of the water rings the dinner bell to nearby stripers, more so than a plug because of the sound it makes with that swinging tail. Recently I wrenched a 50” striper out of a pile of bass a friend and I were targeting. While he worked big soft stick baits furiously, I simply lobbed the eel up into the the general direction of the school and – boom, I got a sleigh ride! Pogies are present especially on the southern portion of Plum Island and out through Gloucester. In close among muddy bottom in that area is where you’ll also find flounder!
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
The good times will continue to roll as long as you either fish in tight to a pogy school or work area beaches at night tossing eels or big soft plastic stick baits! If you can find mackerel stick to trolling off Minot, Hull as well as the Harbor Humps. As of last check there were still pogies present in the harbor and slot to lower 40” fish hot on their tails. The kayak and surf crowd are doing well off North Shore beaches at night with the latter doing well at night off the ocean front of Plum Island. The Fingers section of Jeffrey’s Ledge is a best bet for a hot haddock outing while flounder off Cranes Beach is the north shore inshore groundfish gem.