We kicked off last week’s report talking about picky eaters, and the size of the bait that false albacore have been gorging on these past weeks. After a couple of frustrating early morning trips, I took a step back to reassess how to maximize the few shots I get with these fast and finicky feeds. Experimentation of new lures and hooks lead to more fish landed, and I disproved one of my own hypotheses about albies wedging treble hooks from their mouths. Using a Game On Exo Jig with a treble, I landed several albies from the kayak one day, but the next day they wouldn’t touch it.
From now on, I’ll only kayak fish for albies with three setups. Each of the rods is 7-feet with a size 3000 reel, and each is tied up with a separate offering; one with a soft plastic (Albie Snax or JoeBaggs sand eel), one with a resin or epoxy jig, and one with a casting egg and fly. Along with the Exo jig, the “splash and feather” (casting egg) technique prevailed this week.
Suffice to say, if you “match the hatch” as we fishermen always say, you will likely be rewarded.
Albies continue to slash bait across South Cape. For the most part, they’re really large fish and they still seem to be mixed in with Spanish mackerel, and even bluefish. I hooked several snapper blues while casting into albie feeds. It surprised me that little snappers are sometimes quicker to grab the fly or the jig than the little tunny were.
The above photos were taken only a few days apart, and it demonstrates exactly why I now approach them in a kayak with three different presentations.
The mornings are getting chilly, birds are flocking around inlets at sunrise and sunset, and baitfish like peanut bunker, bay anchovies and silversides are in thick. This is full-fledged Fall Run fishing, and today is quite literally the first day of autumn. With large storms approaching the northeast, a pressure change and a cold front should kick things into another gear.
Here at the On The Water office, most of us are still chasing albies or stripers; recently, OTW’s Patrick Washburn has dialed into a bite in Buzzards Bay using JoeBaggs resin jigs. Patrick said that it took some figuring out, but the albies were cruising in the waves and scooping up bait with far less voracity than usual by using the current to their advantage. Instead of gunning it to and from different albie “hotspots”, Patrick experienced this spectacle in open water with no other boats around. This is a perfect example of why taking it slower and observing our surroundings can yield success.
But speedsters, snappers and stripers are not the only visitors that our team has enjoyed this week. OTW’s Andy Nabreski and Jimmy Fee have dialed into a Northern Kingfish bite on Cape Cod using squid for bait.
Admittedly, I was unaware that these little members of the drum/croaker family made it this far north. Cape Cod’s waters are still warm, and these tasty little fish are apparently plentiful if you know where to look.
In my experience, kingfish will swim in large groups around jetties in the open surf. When I lived on Long Island, I used to target them while on the beach with friends using bloodworms and Fishbites and a basic baitfinder rig next to the jetties. Employ a pyramid sinker in sandy surf to keep the baits in one place, and keep a close eye on the rod tip; it’s tough to feel them bite at times. They’re great shark bait, but they’re also very tasty when lightly battered and fried— then again, most fish are tasty when battered and fried.
For those anglers interested in “bigger and better” things, the Cape Cod Canal has been fishing well for seemingly everyone but yours truly. I’ve taken several frustrating trips to the Canal in the past two weeks with nothing to show for it; so here’s the scoop from a more knowledgable source…
Canal veteran East End Eddie Doherty reports:
“Stephen at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay said that big bluefish are still chewing up soft plastics jigs in the east end. The west end has large striped bass waiting in the hole under the railroad bridge to ambush disoriented baitfish flowing by in the fierce current, but the area next to the mainland side of the bridge (AKA the Combat Zone) is the only spot to access these trophies on a west tide with tangled lines and short tempers part of the price for success. Several fish in the 40 inch class have taken soft plastic jigs there including a linesider measuring 49 inches! One hundred yards away, Justin Perdiz of Mashpee continued using his white Al Gags soft plastic jig even though hundreds of fish were breaking in a wild blitz on an early east tide. The sight of the surface being ripped up causes most anglers to clip on a pencil, but Justin’s knowledge that bigger fish are usually on the bottom paid off with a nice 38 inch linesider! Steven Murray of Plymouth had his Cosmic Wacky Mack Savage Gear Sandeel dancing off the bottom, landing a 36 inch striper on a dropping west tide. Vietnam war era Marine Corps veteran Steve Colleran of Buzzards Bay, caught his share of slots and nice size bluefish, and Westwood’s Derek Curley reeled in a 33-inch blue that hit his yellow pencil. Kyle Garces from South Africa is working as a line cook at Moby Dick’s in Wellfleet for the summer. He wet a line at Bell Road catching 38 & 30 inch linesiders as well as a 13 pound bluefish, all on his Cosmic Wacky mack Savage Gear Sandeel. Tim Petracca of Bourne, Bill “on the grill” Prodouz of Pocasset, Mike LaRaia of Mashpee and Paul “the painter” Gravina of Sandwich were casting together when all 4 rods bent in unison with fat bluefish on each line!”
I’ll take another couple swings at the Canal this coming week, despite my poor timing and bad luck.
Offshore, bluefin tuna fishing continues to be productive for those anglers willing to go the extra mile (or 20). Following an informative episode of the On The Water Podcast with Captain Dom Petrarca, Devin Acton’s The Weekly Salvage filled me in on the happenings of an offshore October that’s just around the corner:
“Storms, the commercial closure and weddings have conspired to delay my next tuna funeral until October, a month unparalleled in the annals of Cape Cod angling. It’s a segment of the season that is not only historically productive, but uniquely rewarding in the sense that successes are usually ‘earned’. Whether it’s the temperamental weather patterns that demand constant attention or early sunsets that allude to the season’s finiteness, October has a distinct “4th quarter” feeling. It’s this sense of urgency that seems to raise the stakes on every trip that starts in the crisp dawn…”. You can read his full report here.
I can identify with wedding season taking away from precious time on the water. Make the most of those brief windows of free-time by planning for an upcoming outing and readying your boat and gear for a run to the canyons. When that window of opportunity arises, advanced preparation will allow you to strike while the iron is hot.
Here’s a rundown of “What’s Biting” from some of our local captains and shops:
Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:
“It was a week for jigging RonZ baits – as most days our boats had at least one, if not multiple hook-ups with RonZ including two mid-50-inch fish. Bobby also brought in this 98” fish on bait. Great stretch ending today due to the heavy winds, but the Fall is just beginning (literally). We look forward to getting back out early next week to resume the hunt!”
Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters in Martha’s Vineyard reports:
“After a frustrating trip chasing fussy, uncooperative albies earlier last week, Martk Renzetti shared another trip with Bob and Judy Peterson and we managed to connect with a few of these fish near Nobska on Friday. On Saturday, our Derby team, Fishsticks with Charter Sauce, returned to Squibnocket, where we’d had a very productive trip the weekend before. This time around, not so much. We did catch three bonito, but none were big enough to qualify for Derby weigh-in. It seemed to be an unusually slow day at a spot that has been consistently good. Finally, my good friends, Capt. Richard Cascarino and David Amaral and I set out yesterday on a quest for Derby glory.
It was probably my best trip of the season, but with an 18-pound bluefish and a 16-pound albie already on the Derby leader board, glory was going to be a difficult goal to accomplish. I was happy to settle for a “Wow, nice fish!” when I weighed in my bluefish at Derby Headquarters. We caught a LOT of bluefish and they were all big. I kept saying “I can’t believe we’re releasing all these 9 and 10-pound fish because they are the small ones!” There were a few albies mixed in with the bluefish and they were big as well. All our fish were caught on trolled deep-divers. We did see a few signs of fish on the surface, but most of our time was spent trolling.”
Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:
“We’ve seen some good fishing this past week. We’ve primarily been catching albies, smaller blues and some schoolie bass; albies are the name of the game right now though, and I’ll be back out there in the morning chasing them again. We’re really looking forward to tautog season too, which is right around the corner.” Call Captain Ross to book (508)566-4723 or go to capecodcharterguys.com
Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:
“The Canal is picking up. Bluefish have thinned out, and are now mostly in the East End. The West End has been consistent recently with a good amount of stripers coming up ranging between 30 and 40 pounds. A west tide and/or first light seem to be the keys to finding a good striper bite on the jig. Most jigs in blue or green mackerel are working well. There are also lots of albies in Buzzard’s Bay, although they’re not pushing very far north. They seem to be concentrated to the south, with a few popping up here and there by the Canal.”
Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:
“This week was another EPIC Albie week! We have reports of Albies from Chatham to The Elizabeth Islands, so find some shoreline somewhere in there and you’ll at least have a chance of hooking into those speedy hardtails!
Fishing buddy, Tony and I got out on our kayaks and we took some video of our stellar morning. You can also see my amatuer hour of losing my rod overboard. I guess I should invest in a rod holder. You can watch the lights out fishing video here and also below. I was most successful using with The Albie Snax in the white pearl color. Tony did equally as well with Epoxy Resin jigs, also in that white bone color. We certainly timed our first albie trip right because that morning was one for the books. At one point we looked around and there were 4 other anglers hooked up. This is certainly an anomaly to most days fishing for albies. I talked to a few customers who were also catching albies. One person said green was his color of choice and another said pink…so a variety is good to have for when they are more finicky than they were on this particular morning!
On top of that, customers are catching snappers and scup from the inlet jetties. Slot bass are in the salt ponds across south Cape, and can be caught using topwaters, soft plastics and chunked bait like mackerel. Elizabeth Islands are seeing albies, blues, striped bass and sea bass caught on SP minnows. Make sure you release those sea bass, and enjoy the great fishing!”
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain around Cape Cod and the Islands!
Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
Striped bass fishing should continue to improve in the Canal as well as on the Outer Cape beaches as temperatures cool. There’s certainly plenty of bait around for them to get their fill as the migration picks up steam. However, keep in mind that it’s not always easy to fool stripers when they’re keyed in on small bait like bay anchovies, sand eels or peanuts. This time of year, think small and you may catch big. Four- to five-inch paddletails on lightweight jighwads work well around dense schools of bait and active feeds. Drop them below the bait schools to find the stripers, as any lingering bluefish are likely to be close to the surface and will shred those offerings. Stripers will also begin to crush diamond jigs, small casting jigs and other metals, as well as epoxy and resin jigs.
With all the snapper blues around, kastmasters, flies and small jigs will catch; meanwhile, larger blues seem to remain around the canal chasing bigger bait like mackerel and squid.
Enjoy albie fishing to the fullest by keeping a few rods rigged and ready with different offerings in order to decipher what they’re feeding on. There aren’t many bonito around south Cape, but there have been scattered reports of them in Cape Cod Bay and Cape Cod Canal.
This weekend is StriperFest! If you can muster up the strength to put down the rods for one Saturday during the Fall, this is the day to do it. Come down to Falmouth Marine Park and join us in celebrating another year of great striper fishing. Have a beer, win a prize, take a demo ride with Yamaha into Vineyard Sound, and meet some like-minded anglers at StriperFest. Check out the Striper Cup website here for more information.
If we don’t see you down there, be safe and enjoy the weekend on the water.
Catch you next Thursday.