Cape Cod Fishing Report- September 1, 2022

Bluefish and bass are thick in the Cape Cod Canal, hardtails are everywhere but finicky, and sea bass season closes after this weekend!

(Above) J.J. of Cape Cod Charter Guys smiles over one of the many mahi they caught on an 80-mile trip offshore earlier this week. (@capecodcharterguys)

What a week it’s been for anglers around the Cape. Sometimes, things just click. As we cruise into September, fishing in both freshwater and saltwater, inshore and offshore, has been electric around Cape Cod. Anglers are catching trophy fish with both feet planted on shore, or on deck of a vessel.

While I can’t speak on the bluefin bite myself, I’ve vicariously enjoyed this fishery through the lens of other anglers who make no haste in chasing Thunnus thynnus. Recently, reading along with Devin Acton’s The Weekly Salvage has provided me with some insight into what it’s like out there. If you can afford to make a trip offshore this season, do it. Acton reported:

“Unlike years gone by, I somehow managed to synchronize some PTO with a wide-open Bluefin bite, so it’s hard not to feel indebted to the Tuna Gods. And by Gods, it has been a bite to remember…continuing on what has been a year unprecedented. Depending on daily conditions, the BFT bite off Chatham has ranged from hand-fed down-rod bites to triples on the troll, to multiple jig bites per hour, and finally(!) my first Bluefin on a popper. While mackerel have been nearly impossible to find, they haven’t been much help, 95% of our fish coming on spinning tackle or stand-up gear. With Fall fast-approaching, I can only hope the small fish stick around alongside the abundance of sand eels…it could make for a truly outstanding Fall topwater push.”

Follow his newsletter The Weekly Salvage for some localized knowledge and consistent updates on all things bluefin tuna.

Back at the beach, the Cape has experienced slight sustained winds out of the southwest for the past three to four days, which I find to be the most favorable winds for a productive bite in the surf. But there’s plenty going on outside of surfcasting.

Here’s the quick rundown of what’s covered this week:

  • Surf fishing for bass and scattered blues seems to be picking up again on Outer Cape beaches.
  • Largemouth bass fishing has been fantastic Cape-wide around dusk.
  • Looking for albies? They’re everywhere, but man, are they picky.
  • Offshore bluefin tuna fishing is stellar.
  • Sharks are hanging around.
  • Cape Cod Canal is full of life.


From the Shores

Cape Cod Canal wiz, East End Eddie Doherty has the report on how the ditch is fishing this week:

“The bluefish that had invaded the Canal are now accompanied by enormous schools of striped bass! A fisherman positioned himself at the right time in the right place near the Bourne Bride and caught slots on cast after cast. Expert angler Bob Weir from Taylor Point landed some fish on the beach at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy including a slot at noon that fell for a white Al Gags soft plastic jig half way through the west tide. Last Wednesday brought the first real blitz of the season when hundreds of schoolies, slots and larger striped bass rode by the Railroad Bridge on an east flood tide just after first light. The fish were hanging close to the Cape side where the partial shade provides slightly cooler water temperatures. The boiling surface magic continued every morning with multiple catches of big fish including a 30 pounder by Remy Lobo from Yarmouth on a Sebile bunker lure. I caught a half dozen including 3 slots on my white Guppy Jobo, Jr. with a single bucktail. The sight of fish ripping up the surface even drew astonished reactions from non-anglers out for a walk along the ditch! Experienced Canal Rat Timmy “Tuna” Lendino and his brother Frank from Brooklyn, NY got into a couple of dozen fish in the west end. Timmy “Tuna” took top family honors with a slot that hit his blue broken back Bomber and fought like a champion. Plymouth’s Stephen Murray caught a slot at the State Pier on his Savage Gear wacky mack jig, Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz from Pocasset landed some slots and a 35 inch linesider on the east flood tide and Drew Luz, the pride of Taunton, reeled in an 18 pounder with a blue Al Gags at first light after having caught several fish the day before.”

East End Eddie also shared this picture of PJ Bandini aboard Fish Bandit with a bonito he caught this week! (photo: Captain Skip Bandini)

On Monday and Tuesday, Outer Cape beaches were exploding with life. My friend Brian Larsen gave a report on what he saw out there first hand:

“The bite on the outer beaches has been silly for the past few days, from Race Point to Monomoy, oddly enough at all times of the day. I got to the water on Monday evening and there were probably 10 other people fishing, and almost everyone was hooking up. I proceeded to catch about a dozen stripers on almost anything I threw, for a little more then an hour outing, and lost close to half a dozen fish on top of that. They hit on poppers, sluggos, jointed bombers, Magic Swimmer, everything. The bite continued past dark, and has been steady each day since; it doesn’t seem to matter which tide either, because the baitfish have been so thick that waves of peanuts are getting washed up on the sand. Get it while it’s good!”

As difficult as it may be to put down the surf or boat rod, freshwater fishing should not be overlooked by anglers seeking to break their personal best largemouth bass. Earlier this week, freshwater enthusiasts Russ and Zack submitted photos to OTW of their two 6-plus pound largemouth bass.

Here is Russ, pictured with his big bass of the day.

Bass of this caliber are relatively common in the Cape’s deep, trout-stocked kettle ponds, but they still drop jaws when an angler successfully lands one—or in this case— two giant bass.

Zack, pictured with another astonishingly large late-summer bass.

Largemouth bass like these will hit substantial baits, so to avoid weeding through dinks all day, try using wakebaits, swimbaits, large topwater poppers, prop baits or spooks to entice a big bite. Depending on depth and water temperature in your pond of choice, the bass could be lingering in 1- to 15-feet of water right now. Locating cover will be key; downed timber, submerged trees, weed beds and/or tall grasses could hold fish, but you can just as easily skip a bait beneath some overhanging branches into shallow and shady, cooler water. If it’s a hot one out there, wait until the sun sinks past the treeline, or head out fishing after dark. Largemouth are opportunistic feeders, and will easily slurp up an “unwitting” meal in the middle of the night.

I didn’t find any largemouth this week, but I did lose an (estimated) 3-pound smallmouth on the fly while fishing a black wooly bugger on a sandy flat of my local bass pond. That will haunt me, but I felt slightly redeemed after hiking several miles and playing catch and release with about 3-dozen white perch on the fly.

White perch, even at the size of a bluegill, put up a remarkable fight on the fly relative to other panfish in these waters.

After a day spent fly fishing the ponds, I took to the kayak for another shot at albies. My friends and I launched on the south side of Cape, and after several albie-less hours and no sign of hardtails, we decided to drop our jigs to the bottom of a fast-moving rip. The water was about 30- to 35-feet deep, and we ended up sitting on top of a school of hellaciously hungry black sea bass. After several drifts, we reached a near limit of knot heads up to 22-inches; however, it’s important to note that none of these fish bit on Gulp, bucktails or any other soft plastics. We watched other boats occasionally stop and struggle to produce a bite with large grub tails and skirted jigs, but the sea bass were keyed on small rain bait much like the hardtails we yearned for.

This 1-ounce jig can be used for vertical jigging while you wait for a sign of hardtails to cast towards.

This was one of the largest black sea bass I’ve caught in a couple years. It was great to find such a steady bite to occupy our time while boats raced around the south Cape following calls and texts of albies biting in other locations. However, cooler heads prevailed. We stayed around our sea bass hole, in an area we were confident there’d be albies earlier in the morning, or even Spanish mackerel. Finally, they showed up, and with them came the boats.

A couple of tips for kayak anglers: don’t waste your energy chasing active feeds, boats will outgun you every time. Instead, create some space, remain in proximity to the feeds, keep your eyes and ears peeled for birds and bait, and wait rather than exert yourself to get one cast off.

I was lucky to have a feed pop up directly off my bow after watching a pod of albies spook from circling boats. The extra space allowed me to make two quick back-handed casts before boats were on me. This fish tracked and ate a Fat Cow epoxy minnow just below the surface on my second cast.

And a couple of tips for those with motors: please don’t knuckle it into active feeds, and please watch out for kayak anglers!

Wide-profile casting jigs seem to be the key to catching these finicky albies right now. Rather than chasing silversides, bay anchovies or sand eels, all of which are long and slender, they’re keyed in on fat and oily peanut bunker. For the fly anglers out there, keep that in mind when tying (or buying) this week.

With the amount of albies and bait around due to sustained warm water temperatures, sharks haven’t really gone anywhere. I was able to spend a night on the beach earlier this week with OTW’s Anthony DeiCicci, Adam Eldridge and Jimmy Fee for some shark fishing at our local beaches.

Jim Fee releases a brown shark that struck our bait just before midnight.
Anthony DeiCicci attempts to gain control of a brown shark’s tail in an effort to land it before the hook pops.

Though the action wasn’t fast and furious, the brown sharks came out to play. The new Daiwa Freeswimmer spinning reels stood up to the test, landing us two of three sharks hooked. All fish came on eels. There’s plenty of life out there for the nighttime beachgoer to enjoy; just be prepared for a possible late-summer visit from the tax man if you’re fishing for bass or blues in the dark.

From the Shops

AJ Coots at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“The Cape Cod Canal was really hot last week. Jigging the east and west ends is yielding fish. This week so far, there’s been a lot of schoolies on top and bigger fish underneath them. The schoolies have been hitting jigs on the drop though, so it’s made getting to those bigger fish a little difficult. The FishLab soft mack and Joe Baggs Freedom Fish have been doing the job on stripers, so stop in and grab some of those.

There were also a bunch of reports of Spanish mackerel in Buzzard’s Bay on the Cape Cod side from Bourne south, following all that rain bait we’ve been seeing. Albie Snax and heavy minnows have been getting the speedsters to bite, and lighter leader has helped in deceiving the picky fish.”

Evan Eastman at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:

” I went out Monday and Tuesday morning for albies and got one early around first light. It’s tough to hook up despite all day action, they’re very finicky. I did see massive schools of bait, a couple football fields long, out by Nobska. The thing is, there is way more bait and fisherman than hungry albies right now. I got a few the other day, but the best bite for me is happening from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Tiny silversides and peanut bunker are on the menu.

Also, fluke from 3- to 5-pounds are around as well, and many anglers are catching limits out by the southeast side of Martha’s Vineyard. Stripers are back on south Cape too; they’re mostly schoolies, with occasional slots and over-slots, but they’re busting on topwater so it’s some good fun. Joe Baggs peanut resins and Hogy epoxy jigs are in store and they’re selling out fast especially with scattered Spanish mackerel around southern Buzzards Bay!”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“The whole canal is ripping with fish right now from east end to west end. Jigging is doing great at virtually all hours, while topwater is working best in the low light hours around dawn and dusk. Some guys are throwing sinking swimming plugs but most of the day-to-day action has been on jigs. Bluefish are at the west end as well, if they’re of interest to you.”

Tommy at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“The last four days been great at the Canal. There are loads of schoolie bass and some solid 25- to 32-pounders beneath the smaller fish. There are also bluefish everywhere, and they’re especially stacked on the East End of the Canal up to 15-pounds. Albies are in Buzzards Bay on the south end too, we’ve had a ton of guys come in buying Exo jigs, epoxys and Albie Snax.”

From the Captains

Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:

“We went 9-for-12 jigging up bluefin tuna off Cape Cod including 3 giants – must see bluefin tuna video!! Awesome team work to this group of charter fishing anglers, as multiple fish are landed, released, doubled up on. Watch the videos from recent outings on the Reel Deal YouTube channel, or join in on the insane Cape Cod bluefin tuna spinning action on jigs aboard our 33′ Invincible Boats Open Fisherman, Done Deal.”

Captain Kurt Freund of Fishticks Charters on Martha’s Vineyard reports:

“I’ve finally started chasing the albies and I’ve seen a lot of breaking fish, but haven’t caught any yet! The albies are super finicky, hard to approach, up and down really quick, and even when you get a cast into them, not all that willing to bite. At least, that’s been my experience so far. While the albies have been tough to catch, I have had several truly great trips for other species this week. I had my best fluke and sea bass trip of the season with Amy Gavin and her mom and daughters Amber and Alyssa.We had fluke up to 5 pounds and sea bass to 4 pounds. Bluefishing has not been great this year, but Fritz Karbe and family had two trips this week, one even better than the other. We caught bluefish up to 12 pounds casting and trolling.”

Amber caught this big fluke with Fishsticks Charters early in the week.
With Fishsticks Charters, the Karbe family had two great outings for bluefish like this one that ate a trolled Crystal Minnow.

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We went 80-miles offshore yesterday and slayed mahi! Flying fish, amberjack all over the place. We caught too many mahi to count! One 70- to 80-pound bull mahi kept wandering around the boat, following our other catches on the way in, with more 50-pounders following later in the day. Their colors are something to behold, between the green, blue, gold and yellow shades. Warm water temperatures are key to finding them though. With sustained southwest winds it was a bit hairy out there, but that warm Gulf Stream water has made it’s way to our neck of the woods and that brought the mahi north. It was very difficult to locate these fish with the 6-foot swells, but when we did, Game On Exo jigs were working like a charm for the mahi, especially in the green color.

Here’s J.J. of Cape Cod Charter Guys with one of many mahi on the Game On Exo jigs! (@capecodcharterguys)

Earlier in the week, we also landed a 5-foot sand tiger shark with a Daiwa BG 5000 on 50-pound braided line using my own hand made diamond jigs while fishing for black sea bass. That was an exciting moment for the clients who got much more than they bargained for on that sea bass trip.” Book with Captain Ross at capecodcharterguys.com or call (508)566-4723!

Captain Ross (@capecodcharterguys) makes these diamond jigs on his own, and they’re catching everything from sea bass to sharks!

Captain Derek Simons of Seastriker Charters in Yarmouth reports:

“We caught a handful of large fluke in Vineyard Sound last week using Gulp as a trailer and squid strips on a teaser hook above it. There are albies off of Martha’s Vineyard as well, biting on epoxy jigs and we’ve got them as late as 3-4 in the afternoon. Tog season opens soon, and some are being caught from the piers and rocks in Yarmouthport. Recently, I’ve also been guiding clients on freshwater ponds. We’ve caught a ton of bass around 2-pounds, with one tipping the scales at 7-pounds. We even fooled around with some large chain pickerel up to 28-inches. The bass and pickerel are all hitting on frogs and topwaters in the late afternoon and evenings.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

The unbelievable bluefin tuna jig bite continues to feed the appetites of offshore adrenaline seekers, and it sounds like if you’re in the right spot and conditions cooperate, you may even stumble across some mahi.

Cape Cod Canal should continue to fish well with the amount of bait on both the bay side and the south side of Cape. Jigs will be your best bet in trying to get past the smaller schoolies to reach bigger fish lower in the water column, but if bluefish is your calling, throw topwaters and swimming plugs on the east end.

South-facing beaches and the shores of Buzzards Bay will likely see a bigger push of albies and Spanish mackerel in the next week. With reports of bonito in Rhode Island, we can only hope they make a pit stop in Cape waters.

Fluke fishing has been good this week! There seem to be some larger fish around in Vineyard Sound, but you can also find them in unexpected areas, like your local backwaters. Check out Andy Nabreski’s recent episode of Living Off the Land and Sea for an inside look in how to target these tasty fish in shallow water.

Freshwater fishing is producing some big fish. If you find yourself docked due to winds, or you’re looking for some quick entertainment, don’t overlook the nearest bass pond to you. Evidently, smallmouth and huge largemouth bass are putting on the feedbag.

Don’t forget: black sea bass season closes on September 4th. This is your last weekend to target the tasty sea biscuits in Massachusetts waters until 2023.

Use good judgment on the water this Labor Day weekend, because there’s bound to be a ton of people out there. The Fall Run is upon us. Be safe, respect each other and fish hard.

Catch you next week!

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