Cape Cod Fishing Report- September 8, 2022

Albies invaded south Cape beaches, schoolies and bluefish are on the move, and anglers fishing the Cape Cod Canal enjoy gator blues with 30-pound stripers.

Fall is in the air, not so much in terms of air temperatures just yet, despite some cooler nights.

I’m talking about birds. Birds are everywhere, I tell ya! If you’re down at the beach, just look up, or take a close glance at the horizon. If they aren’t airborne, you’ll likely spot a flock along the shore, waiting for the surface action to begin. To many anglers, myself included, frantic bird life is usually the initial indicator that the first wave of migratory fish has begun moving south. With excessive amounts of baitfish in the water, it’s no wonder there are so many birds up there; I’ve seen scattered clouds of just about every common baitfish species this past week, but the larger masses seem to be densely-packed schools of bay anchovies and peanut bunker.

False albacore continue to crash on schools of the aforementioned baitfish all along the south Cape up into Buzzards Bay, and although it may seem helpful in learning exactly where they fed yesterday, the truth is, they’ll be most concentrated where the bait is most abundant; and that changes on a daily basis. However, the wind direction plays a huge factor in determining where to find these condensed groups of rain bait that are being preyed upon.

A strong wind current in addition to the movement of the tide will push surfacing schools of bait very quickly, making feeds that would otherwise feel prolonged, rather brief. You can do your best to keep up with them in an effort to catch a couple albies, but there seems to be a cyclical pattern in the way that albies feed around these schools when there is fast moving water. They pop up at the beginning of a drift for a few frothy seconds, then next thing you know, they’re behind you and moving down-current. You can chase them in a boat with ease, but be careful not to spook them; keep a safe distance, make longer casts with a slightly heavier offering, and try to lead the feed. If you’re in a kayak, the best strategy so far has been to stay put and wait for a feed or nearby signs of action to avoid over-exertion.

Late last week, I got out on the kayak with OTW’s Kevin Blinkoff for a chance at some albies in an area we heard had some promising feeds for consecutive days. Half knowing better, we launched our kayaks in lower Buzzards Bay to chase that bite. After breaking the inlet, the sun had just risen above the treeline and we were immediately met with a scene straight from the Fall Run. Birds dove left and right, crashing into the surface to scoop up a mouthful of bay anchovies. Surprisingly though, the feed that drifted beneath my kayak was full of school striped bass.

A single cast was all it took for this fish to find the hook of my Fat Cow epoxy minnow.
Kevin Blinkoff tight to a sunrise schoolie on the fly as we pedaled up to a feed of boiling stripers.

For a few minutes, it seemed like we’d be enjoying a solid bass bite all morning, but that bite dissipated as the sun rose higher in the sky. It was time to look for albies.

For several hours we pedaled around southern Buzzards Bay hoping to stumble onto a feed, but all the action seemed to be happening in the middle of the bay. Frantic flocks of birds peppered the horizon, only they were much too far to reach by pedal. To pass the time, I blindcasted around schools of bait that were easily located through discoloration on the surface; the dark shades of the bait schools stood out in stark contrast to the light blue water color.

A few casts around a buoy also yielded a nice surprise. I half-jokingly pitched my epoxy jig around this buoy hoping to see a rogue cobia follow it to my kayak, but instead, I hooked a much smaller subtropical visitor: a banded rudderfish. I had never caught one before, but Kevin Blinkoff immediately identified it.

This small rudderfish had quite an appetite for its size. It crushed a 1-ounce casting jig.

Add it to the “new species” list. Apparently they’re relatively common if you spend time casting around buoys or floating structure in deeper water around Cape Cod and the Islands. A cool catch, but not the albies (or cobia) I had hoped for.

After a while longer, it seemed like hope was lost for this morning. But I managed to put together a solid bass and bluefish bite to end the outing. It was high tide, and the fish were enjoying my Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow as I tossed it around submerged boulders. Water temperatures should continue to slowly cool as long as we keep experiencing nighttime air temperatures in the 60’s.

This was one of several blues to provide some early a.m. entertainment on my 7-foot albie rod.

When I start to see bluefish of this size mixed in with schoolie stripers, it only reinforces my thinking that the Fall Run has commenced.

And I wasn’t the only one to find a few bass off of Falmouth in Buzzard’s Bay. A young angler and OTW follower, Ryan Feldman, caught this healthy bass just off of West Falmouth a few days ago.

Ryan Feldman, 12, of Medfield MA got into the early Fall Run action with this healthy bass caught off of West Falmouth this week.

With all the extra boat traffic out there, remember to use caution as you motor from spot to spot. Keep your eyes peeled both for feeds, and other boaters/kayakers that are out there doing the same.

This week, we also have a helpful reminder for boaters from Karen Moore Dourdeville, a sea turtle research coordinator with the Mass Audubon Organization on Cape Cod: 

“Each year, we receive a significant number of our sea turtle sighting reports from recreational fishermen. With the fall season coming, it is helpful to get word out about the presence of sea turtles in our area to avoid vessel strikes, which are often fatal. Four species of sea turtles are feeding in our waters; leatherbacks, loggerheads, green turtles and Kemp’s Ridley turtles. They range from about dinner-plate size (juvenile Kemp’s ridley and Green) up to 6- to 8-feet long (leatherbacks). For the third consecutive year, leatherbacks seem to be largely avoiding Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds (so far), but loggerheads are certainly here. Leatherbacks might appear, also, as we know there are quite a few of them south of Nantucket.

Boaters can reduce the chance of vessel strikes on these four species by watching carefully ahead of their boats. The Mass Audubon sea turtle sighting website, seaturtlesightings.org, has photos, videos and verbal descriptions of what the different species might look like in the water ahead of a vessel. Boaters are also urged to report all sea turtle sightings on the website, as sightings provide important data on habitat use.”

If you’re not a boater and you fish primarily from shore, you need not focus on sea turtles; but we should all focus on the current body of fish moving through the canal.

It’s about time I get back on the Canal grind. Although based on reports from East End Eddie Doherty, it may not be as much of a grind as it was during the first half of the season.

A regular at the ditch, East End Eddie Doherty reports of the Cape Cod Canal:

9/7/22: The morning striped bass blitzes continue as the Canal has produced multiple slots and fish up to 30 pounds on a variety of lures at all levels of the water column. Every fish that I caught in the last few weeks, including a 37-inch linesider, has fallen for my white 3 ounce Guppy JoBo, Jr. with a single tailhook bucktail. Not surprisingly, the biggest fish have been mostly on the bottom where jigs have been very effective. Large bluefish are patrolling the east end in the deepest water where soft plastic jigs are being destroyed by the yellow eyed devils so some sacrifice is necessary for a hookup or as Jeff Miller of Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore says, “You’ve got to give to receive!”

Caleb from Maco’s Bait & Tackle in Buzzards Bay said there are huge pods of peanut bunker at Wings Neck just outside the Canal entrance and the west end has been on fire with bent rods all around. Bob Weir landed several nice fish including a couple of 22 pounders and Jumpin Joe England reeled in a multitude of linesiders on his green mack FishLab with the heaviest tilting the scale at 20 pounds.

An errant flying lure on a fisherman’s line hooked another angler in the head at Bell Road on a busy day. Not exactly emergency triage surgery, but a fisherman, standing in the back of a truck, used bolt cutters to slice through the shank and separate the plug away from the rest of the hook which remained imbedded in his skull. I assume he went to the hospital to have the bend and barb removed so let’s hope he’s OK.

Joe Keegan from Falmouth hooked a striper breaking about 40 yards out with a surface plug while fishing with his brother Sean next to me. The fish fought ferociously until wrapping the line around a rock 10 yards from shore. Joe couldn’t move the brute so he left his rod standing up in a crevice and used another to continue fishing. He reeled in some more fish including a 38 inch and then, after about 20 minutes, cast a bucktail at the entanglement, hooked his line and dislodged it from the rock. Joe could see that it was a big one, way above slot, when suddenly an enormous harbor seal attacked the fish in close causing a huge explosion of saltwater as it bit down on the striper and ran with it toward the center of the Canal! This was going to be a losing battle so Joe broke the line and the seal had its breakfast!”

Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz landing a nice Bell Road bluefish. (Photo: by Paul Alfano, sent in by Eddie Doherty)

With Canal fishing on the upswing, here’s the rundown from some local shops where you can get what you need to fish the ditch.

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“The Canal has lit up recently, we had a solid 10-day stretch of consistent action with a lot of fish on top in the morning. Bigger stripers are down low, so we’ve been selling a lot of jigs and paddletails; especially because 30-inch bluefish have invaded the Canal. They were stacked in the East End for a good while, but they’ve moved throughout much of the Canal at this point. A good number of fish were caught on a West tide at the West end, mainly on jigs. Lots of guys targeting the bigger bass are coming in for replacement tails too, as the gator blues have been chomping down on those.”

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

“I caught four albies this morning very close to shore and they were spitting up silversides. The bait has gotten bigger recently, so they’re less picky; these fish all came on the Hogy 7/8-ounce epoxy jig in silverside color. Based on customer reports and my experience out there, it sounds like there are still albies from Hyannis to West Falmouth. Around Falmouth this morning, they were 5-feet from shore at times. Stripers are also in the salt ponds up to 30-inches, and they’re scooping up small bait so you can get them on tiny paddletails, flies and small casting jigs.”

Captain Scott at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Albies are in thick all along the beaches from Bass River to Popponesset. Schoolie stripers are packed into the bays and crushing small bait, so you may stumble upon some bass while casting around for hardtails. There are big porgies at the rips in Vineyard Sound, and big sea bass in Nantucket Shoals for fluke fishermen, although sea bass season closed on September 4 so they have to be thrown back. There are a surprising amount of fluke around Centerville as well, but no bluefish just yet. Apparently, there are tons of blues moving through the Canal though, so we should see them soon out this way.”

Tommy at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reports:

“Fluke fishing has been decent this week, although keepers have been harder to find as fish move out of their typical summertime dwellings. The better bet is to target stripers and blues, whether from the surf or in the Canal. The action in Cape Cod Canal has been steady and some quality fish in the 30-pound range are being caught, mostly jigging. The hot striper bites have been at the West End and the Railroad Bridge, but bring the boxing gloves if you plan to fish by the railroad because it has been shoulder to shoulder recently.”

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

“Albies continued to be tough to fool this week. We spent part of each trip looking for and usually finding albies crashing bait on the surface, but even when we had opportunities to cast into them,  they refused to cooperate. In most cases, we’d abandon the albie quest after a while and go find some bluefish that were usually more accommodating. Surprisingly, our first albie of this season was caught while blind casting for bluefish in the rips, not casting to breaking fish. It ate an SP Minnow, not exactly the lure I would have chosen if we were targeting albies, but there you go. Also somewhat surprising were two striped bass that took trolled swimming plugs that were intended for bluefish. Mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get.”

John Kozakowski with the first albie on Fishsticks this season. It took an SP Minnow.

Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:

“Our boats were doing fantastic offshore until marine conditions got tough earlier this week, and the bluefin tuna bite was entirely on jigs, so it was a blast. We’re still getting fish, but its a much slower pick using bait within 8 to 10 miles from shore. We’re hoping to get back out there as soon as the wind shifts and lays down a bit!”

After switching to bait fishing, Reel Deal Charters hooked this shortfin mako shark during a recreational tuna trip. (Photo: @fishreeldeal)
Even though they had to pick through blue sharks and a mako, the Reel Deal crew managed to find some bluefin closer to home last week. (Photo: @fishreeldeal)

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We’ve been able to find a couple of days worth of some nice stripers and blues in Cape Cod Bay despite the winds. Albies are out there tracking schools of bait almost anywhere you look on the South side, and we’d continue targeting them if we weren’t getting ready to go offshore tomorrow (Friday). Last week we were able to put together a great mahi bite so we’ll see what this week has in store with these conditions.”

This was one of several big bluefish landed with Cape Cod Charter Guys in Cape Cod Bay this week. (@capecodcharterguys)

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

It sounds like there will be a ton of bluefish and stripers migrating south around Cape over the next week. The Outer Cape beaches are fishing well for bass, although a stretch of Northeast winds made the beach bite difficult for a few days. The Canal is seeing a consistent uptick in both activity and class of striped bass, with plenty of 30-pounders in the mix, but most of the bigger fish are coming on jigs while smaller stripers and bluefish are hitting topwater offerings around early morning and dusk. That bite should remain consistent going forward, as we’re only going to see more rain bait. Those baitfish are beginning to fatten up too, so it’s worth throwing larger lures for albies now. Fishsticks Charters caught one on an SP minnow, so if that’s any indication of the direction these albies’ appetites are headed, we should have a great fall run ahead.

Over the next week or so, finding fish will simply be a matter of going to the beach (or cruising in the boat), and studying the water before making the first cast. Because albies seem to be a bit less picky this week, anglers are catching them on not only casting jigs, but soft plastics such as Albie Snax, and sand eel imitations like a small RonZ.

Remember that sea bass season is now closed, so any bycatch while fluke fishing will have to be returned to the water no matter how beautiful a specimen.

The Fall Run is afoot. Let’s see what this week has in store for anglers around Cape and the Islands.

Catch you next Thursday.

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