Depending on where you are fishing and what your quarry is, you’re probably chasing water temperatures! For some, those temperatures are too hot and for other’s not hot enough. Pogies, both big and small, continue to draw attention from stripers with the size of the bait often dictating the size of the bass!
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
Many years ago I was fortunate enough to be aboard my friend Captain Jason Colby’s Little Sister during it’s maiden voyage for cod at Coxes Ledge. As if the prospects of being able to actually keep a cod during a virtual Massbay moratorium were’t enough, Jason ratcheted up the anticipation considerably when he nodded in the direction of a slip mate at Tripp’s Marina and said, “he’s been finding mahi mahi out there!”. My knee-jerk reaction was something like, “yeah, right!”, feeling a bit incredulous that one could sail from the Westport River and do battle with a pelagic which is more associated with the canyons and more southern environs. Just in case that proved true I had packed a St Croix Avid Inshore rod outfitted with a Shimano Saragossa 5000 reel. That would be a prescient move if there ever was one. Mahi mahi are unique in that they lurk near most anything bobbing around on the surface which acts as sanctuary to launch an attack on unsuspecting cruising bait fish. High liner lobster pot buoys make for perfect cover to find mahi mahi. No sooner did one of the eagle-eyed crew members spot a high liner than we slowed down, began peppering the buoy with casts and several of us hooked up. The image of those lit up green/yellow acrobats leaping out of the water and pulling drag is one I will never forget. My favorite mahi mahi lure is Shimano’s Waxwing. It’s also my top bonito/false albacore pick. This thing casts a mile, is tough and has awesome action – even when worked quickly which is necessary when targeting a fish which can swim over 40 miles per hour! Water temperates are everything when targeting mahi mahi, at 70 degrees they are passive yet bump that up by just two degrees and they turn on the jets. The growth rate of mahi mahi is incomparable as they can sprout to 4 1/2’ long in a year and a half! They are are also the ultimate pelagics having been known go travel almost 2000 miles in just one month! As far as on the grill, in my opinion they are the best tasting fish that there is. If this has your juices flowing than your are in luck since Captain Colby tells me that Coxes Ledge and Rhode Island Sound in general is loaded with them right now! As for a vehicle to take you out there, let’s just say – “I know a guy!”. That “guy” has also been doing pretty good with fluke, sea bass, stripers, blues and tautog in the Westport side of Buzzards Bay!
Unlike Boston, the South Shore pogy schools have virtually disappeared but some of the bait dearth has been taken up by peanut bunker which continue to be the source of surface feeds throughout the South Shore. Anglers need to spend as much time reading water temperatures right now as any of the other data on their electronics. Seventy degrees and up is well past the comfort zone of striped bass, and right now, water temperatures are at their peak and in some cases well past that mark. Expect slow striped bass fishing until that figure drops below 70, which should happen pretty early in September. Meanwhile consider blues which are belting bait from Minot Ledge to Harding’s Ledge off Hull. And there is always fluke, the numbers of which seem to be increasing north of the cape. In fact, a friend of mine who recently harvested a few fluke found that they were feeding on mummichogs and – baby fluke! Lo and behold north of the cape it looks as if we have a self-sustaining fluke biomass!
Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate had an angler in the shop when we spoke on Thursday who said that he found mackerel in 100’ of water in CCB. A few anglers looking for macks are coming up with baby bonito on their sabiki rigs. For a more consistent shot at a sizeable striper – during dry times for pogies – Mr. Belsan suggests that you drag an umbrella rig, a Rapala Magnum troller of Hoochie Rig in 40/50’ of water; it’s an even bet which you’ll come tight to right now, it could be a gator blue or a cow bass!
Greater Boston Fishing Report
The one-two punch of bluefish and nor’easterly winds did not spell the end of all the pogy schools in Boston but simply moved some inshore! That has paid off dividends for the small boater, kayak angler and surf fisher who now have a crack at cows chasing pogies! With less of a single mass, it’s now imperative for anglers to find a school of bait which is under duress.
Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy told me of an angler who was flummoxed after snagging his way through a pogy school for hours which was bereft of bass! While patience often rules in fishing this is one time when an angler with attention deficit disorder might actually have the edge. If there’s anyone home among a pogy school you’ll know it within minutes because the bait will be set upon. Pogy and bass have been found by the Amelia Earhart Dam, Orient Heights, Crystal Cove and the Lower Middle of the harbor. Blues are occasionally rushing the school of bait but more often than not it’s all stripers. Surface feeds which have been the handiwork of bass-on-baby bunker have been observed in Hingham Harbor, by Sheep Island, Wollaston Beach and Spectacle Island. The size of the seven-striped pursuers is usually smaller when chasing the peanut bunker; it only makes sense that the bigger bass will stick with the bigger bait. A few keeper black sea bass have been caught from Hull Gut. That spot can hold really big black sea bass. Captain Jason Colby revels in torturing me every chance he gets about the monster black sea bass I lost during a drift through the gut. While It makes for lively conversation, the truth is that I really did have the fish-of-a-lifetime on that just fell off before coming to net. It truly was a beast! I hooked that fish on a Crippled Herring while “squidding” it to the bottom. In case you’re not aware, squidding involves rapidly and smoothly free-spooling a jig to the bottom and in one fell swoop cranking it up 5/6 turns of the handle. When it’s done correctly there is zero lapse in the movement of the jig which triggers a reflexive strike in nearby predators. This method is deadly on everything from stripers to fluke to groundfish and of course – big black sea bass!
Regarding black sea bass, Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing also found a nice little pile of black sea bass throughout the Quincy Bay/Hull area. The surprise was that he also found a few keeper fluke there as well. As for more expected species he recently had a 70 bluefish day trolling just outside of the harbor! More bluefish reports have been trickling in off Winthrop and Broad Sound!
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Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
Salem Harbor is holding pogies and big striped bass according to Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle! While water temperatures are above the preferred threshold of a striped bass they will forego comfort for a snack! Peanut bunker continue to move through the North Shore with Marblehead Harbor, Beverly Harbor and also Cape Ann holding that bait along with striper surface feeds! Blues are making random raids off Revere Beach, Long Beach and off Devereux Beach. As always, if blues are on your wish list then set up a troll with deep diving plugs by Egg Rock, Tinkers Island and off Misery Island. The shop is moving a lot of squid jigs which is a surefire sign of Loligo love! If you carve calamari check out the Fisherman’s Beach pier, Marblehead Harbor, the Beverly Pier, the Dog bar Breakwater and the Granite State Pier.
Garrett from Three Lantern Marine in Gloucester said that the good news about rising water temperatures is that it has attracted bonito! There have been a few 20” specimens caught off the Wingaersheek/Coffin’s Beach stretch while anglers were trolling for blues. Peanut bunker schools throughout the harbors of Manchester and Gloucester are attracting surface feeds but most are the result of schoolies. For a shot at something bigger the recommendation is to jig up a few mackerel off The Groaner or Salvages and troll along the backshore of Gloucester. A few mackerel have also been found off Folly Cove.
Liz from Surfland Bait and Tackle said that the big news is bluefish, bluefish and more bluefish. Some were surprised to find feeding blues at night off the ocean front on eels and mackerel chunk but those who know a thing or two about blues will tell you that the larger versions hunt at night as effectively as stripers do! It’s definitely time to bump up the leader strength should you give the Newburyport surf a go. Boaters have been doing well for blues as well. Peanut bunker are in attendance while their bigger brethren – not so much! With water temperatures as they are, striper fishing is pretty much a schoolie endeavor. Expect that to change next month as water temperatures drop!
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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Skyrocketing water temperatures are just the thing for blues, fluke, black sea bass and even mahi mahi – but regarding stripers, not so much! High times can be found among High Liners for mahi mahi off Westport while big blues are making short work of leaders off Minot Ledge and the Hull Ledges. In Boston Harbor the antidote for sizzling water temperatures is finding the broken off pogy schools which are still in residence. While blues have not followed the pogy schools inside often they can still be found in deeper water by those trolling deep diving plugs such as Rapala’s Magnum series. For a shot at something different set up a drift through the Quincy/Hull area with a standard issue fluke rig/top and bottom rig and see if you can’t pluck out a black sea bass or fluke! Farther north surface feeds are par for the course once you find the peanut bunker in Beverly Harbor, Manchester Harbor and Gloucester Harbor. A bit of an uptick in mackerel numbers are pleasing sabiki-wielding anglers looking for these premium baits by the Groaner off Gloucester. Ipswich Bay is holding blues for deepwater trollers and as for big bass from the oceanfront at night, you’ll have to settle for gator blues for a little while longer which isn’t a half bad consolation prize!