Oh, how I love late summer.
At this point in the fishing season, I find myself playing a strange, but enjoyable game of fish roulette. Our coastal waters are alive with everything from hardtails to puffers, and as silly as it sounds, I sometimes can’t make up my mind. Northern puffers make for some delicious eats, but they don’t feed the intense appetite anglers have for excessively long, drag-ripping runs made by fish false albacore. It’s a tradeoff; eat or excite. The beauty of this annual conundrum is that there’s something of interest to everybody, and in fact, there’s time for both; whether you want to bend a rod on your lunch break with shallow scup, or pursue sprightly speedsters at sunrise.
Say that five times fast.
Speaking of the latter, I was lucky enough to find albies this Tuesday morning with OTW’s Kevin Blinkoff and OTW Contributor Matt Stone. We pushed off a local beach into Vineyard Sound at 5:30 a.m. and began to search the surface for baitfish in the area. The morning air was entirely void of wind, and consequently, our boats made the water looked like rippled glass. But what the air lacked in movement, it made up for in moisture. It was humid and hazy outside, and as we surveyed the area for bait, thick rain clouds rolled over our miniature fleet in similar fashion to our kayaks rolling over blankets of bait. We fished through inconsistent waves of torrential rain, but between each downpour, the surface came alive with a familiar “rain bait” … tiny peanut bunker were everywhere.
Despite the slight haze, the fishing that morning was entirely visual. We used the intermittent rain breaks to search for diving birds or dimpling on the surface, caused by pods of nervous or fleeing peanuts. After a few unsuccessful attempts we split up to cover more water, and on a blind cast toward a long-gone surface feed, my jig got whacked. The drag sang to me, and after a decent fight I pulled in a sizable Spanish mackerel.
I can’t say with confidence that the mackerel were feeding deeper than the albies, because we saw them jumping occasionally. But, in my experience, Spanish mackerel tend to swim beneath schools to terrorize from below, slashing through unsuspecting pods of bait with acrobatic leaps. They go fully airborne, following an arch-like path in mid-air that makes them easily distinguishable from albies that roll, tumble and crash on the surface. I even managed to place an accurate cast into a frothing feed of albies, which rewarded me with my first of the year and my first-ever kayak albie.
Although chasing feeds is exciting, you’re almost as likely to stumble upon a feed at your local beach. Right now, albies are being caught from northern Buzzard’s Bay to Yarmouth. They’ve been popping up sporadically all across south Cape beaches, so head to your town beach this weekend with your favorite fun-sized rod and start casting around with some classic albie jigs.
Jigs aren’t the only thing getting it done, as evidenced by OTW Intern Robbie Tartaglia who found a handful of albies on the fly rod earlier this week.
Rather than burn fuel chasing these fish all around the Cape, the best bet is to keep your eyes peeled out there and wait for them to come to you. There are plenty of better ways to spend your limited time on the water than wasting gas, or your own energy, as you search for albies. While I was bored and waiting for a feed to pop-up, a quick couple drops of my jig to the bottom landed me some decent scup and a decent black sea bass.
When it comes to finding fish, you can also enlist the services of a local fishing guide or charter to help locate the exact species of interest to you. Here’s what is happening around the Cape and Islands this week:
From the Vineyard, Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters reports:
“It’s been a busy week, despite two days of bad weather that forced me to cancel trips. Running out of Vineyard Haven, I can easily fish Vineyard Sound or Nantucket Sound. Most of this season, I’ve been fishing the shoals of Nantucket Sound, and this week those spots have continued to produce lots of black sea bass, some bluefish, and an occasional fluke. But I’ve also had some good trips in Vineyard Sound this week; the deep water off the north shore of the Vineyard still has some nice fluke and sea bass. In shallow water, we’ve been using soft plastics on small jigheads, but in the deeper water, where these lighter lures wouldn’t be practical, we’re fishing traditional fluke setups like bucktail and teaser rigs to get down to the bottom. There are schools of peanut bunker up in the pond, as I’m sure there are in many of the back bays and harbors, and I’ve seen some splashes of small stripers feeding on them. But these have been quick raids, not the sustained blitzes that we should start to see as the water cools and the fish feed with more urgency.”
A.J. Coots of Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:
” The Canal has been great the past week or so with a slew of 30-plus pound bass being jigged up on the West End. One of our shop regulars landed a couple 30’s and then got out-muscled by a bass that he just couldn’t stop. He fished with an ODM Jigster and a 14K Twin Power, so rest assured, the big bass are in. Blues are on squid, peanut bunker and silversides on the east end, and there are scattered reports of mackerel. Despite the small bait on the surface, the jig bite is the ticket to success.”
The Red Top guys have also been sharking down on south Cape beaches for most of the summer, and the sharks haven’t slowed down yet. One of their guys even landed a giant ray that measured about 60-inches across.
Stop into the shop for your bait and tackle needs this week, whether chunking for sharks or jigging in the ditch.
In Falmouth, Evan Eastman of Eastman’s Sport and Tackle reports a fantastic albie bite on the south side of Cape from Cotuit to Falmouth. The fish have been picky on the calmer days, and when the conditions were sloppy, Evan cleaned up. He was using mostly Hogy epoxy jigs, which he carries in store, and found the fish to be feeding on top during choppy conditions whereas the calmer it was, they were a bit more finicky. Evan also reported that anglers are catching slot- and over-slot bass on pogy chunks in Buzzards Bay. Meanwhile, his buddy Matt was throwing topwater plugs in Buzzards Bay this week and ended up hooking into a cobia, spotting several more. Their flat head is unmistakeable. Evan shared this picture to Instagram earlier today:
Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:
“Albies are out front of all along the South shore, with classic feeds popping up at random on the surface. I was out there the other day and a fly fisherman landed one from the beach. Ben from the shop caught a few albies late last week on the boat with epoxy jigs and Albie snax getting the job done. Schoolie and keeper stripers are also being caught around inlets during low-light, snapper blues are in, and boat guys are catching schoolies and slots by trolling the tube and worm outside of Barnstable harbor.”
More signs of the Fall Run nearing! Swing by the shop for your albie and striper needs.
Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne enthusiastically reports:
” Our ‘Sea World’ closed a couple weeks back due to north winds, and since then we’ve been running around on the South side finding albies and bluefish. Black sea bass are biting well in Vineyard Sound, and surprisingly, we recently caught a half a dozen big tautog on our homemade diamond jigs! The craziest part, they’re not around structure either! These 20- to 23-inch tog are coming from sandy areas where we’re also catching scup, sea bass, stripers, bluefish, and more on our jigs. We’re out there seven days a week, figuring things out. When retrieving our jigs through the water column, the stripers seem to follow them up and eat it on the slow retrieve, and bluefish will eat when the jigs are cranked fast and frantic.”
Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:
“Bluefish are on the east end and they’re feeding on squid, peanut bunker and silversides. Topwaters will get it done, but the fish are more dialed on swimming plugs at the moment.”
Speaking of the Canal, Cape Cod Canal veteran East End Eddie Doherty reports:
“A boat that ran aground ended up sitting on top of the rocks of the rip rap stone bank at pole 95 on the mainland side and had to be removed by some heavy equipment so somebody had a bad day! The trench continues to produce with lifetime Canal Rat Todd Benedict from Monument Beach landing a striped bass that was way over slot, estimated by experienced fishermen to be well north of 30 pounds. The affable angler plied a west tide with his blue & silver loaded 4 ounce Cotton Cordell in the west end. Another guy, who loves eating bluefish, caught 3 blues up to 34 inches at pole 80 main. The fish had been gorging on squid as one was vomiting calamari. Dom, the classy staffer from Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay, fooled a 12-pound blue with his Left Hook wacky mack pencil and Tony McCann, a great fisherman from Easton, caught a nice bluefish that was about 32-inches long on a green mack Magic Swimmer so there are a variety of predators hunting the peanut bunker, squid and mackerel are now the primary baitfish. We will miss Bill Walsh for a week due to minor surgery resulting from sun exposure. The good-natured surfcaster got an immediate “no” for an answer when he asked the doctor if the surgery could wait until after the fall run!”
Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:
“The bluefin tuna jig bite off Chatham has been absolutely on fire. Bobby has landed 29 fish in the past 4 days. It is unreal fishing conditions. All on spinning gear with epoxy or metal jigs, the Centaur jigging rods are displaying amazing performance on bigger fish. Click here to watch one of the jigging videos! In other news, the striped bass continue to travel around the tip of Provincetown, although they’re getting finicky, putting in the time to keep our customers getting keepers.”
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain around Cape Cod and the Islands!
Cape Cod Fishing Forecast