After a long season, it’s easy to start mailing it in and settle for any old striped bass. But that all changes when you hear of a friend towed helplessly around on his kayak by a 48” beast! Cod continue to please in close and on the South Coast the tautog feeding window is getting wider.
As for striped bass whether it’s July of January, their instincts don’t change. You may catch a 40+ pounder during the day but your odds are much better if you stick to nights. With the volume of pogies in Massbay, this season has been an outlier with cows coming to the feed for much of the season during sun up. That just might have nurtured bad habits among many as anglers right now are chasing bass-on-peanut bunker feeds and occasionally lucking into a school of pogies. While the schoolies and slots they are catching are fun, I’m betting that a drag-puller in the still of the night, which scares you a bit, would be more so. Those big fish are still out there, albeit in diminished numbers, making it all about how you would like the last leg of the season to play out!
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
The tube and worm is not just for daytime. My buddy Steve Langton, while fishing on the North Shore, knew he had an impending lightning/thunder storm bearing down on him so he decided to empty his entire ordinance all at once on what was there. Out came an eel as well as a tube-and-worm! This was one time when losing a fish was a good thing. The first whack was on the tube with the impact spinning him around and before he had time to think – a cow nailed the serpent. Trying to dispatch two big bass from a kayak at the same time would have made good fodder for YouTube but it wouldn’t have been practical. Thankfully the fish on the tube came undone while the eel-eating striper held fast. The latter fish proved to be a fat 48” fish and Steve is pretty certain that the other was of similar size! Of course this all took place at night with the point being that the versatile tube-and-worm more than holds it’s own day or night!
Not surprisingly Pete Belsan of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate tossed up the tube-and-worm as essential gear for anglers looking to catch a big bass right now! While odds are that during a blitz, the tube and worm is not the first thing that comes out of your tackle bag, it often will pull the bigger fish out of the melee. In addition to blitzes, Belsan recommends you try the tube at the Second, Third and Fourth Cliffs. The area between the South River and Rexhame Beach can be productive as well – both day and night. Those looking for a quick keeper cod should set their sights on structure 5 – 7 miles from shore. Cod can be found closer but they tend to be smaller fish.
Captain Jason Colby has been a wreck or more appropriately been spending a lot of time fishing over them aboard the Little Sister! Tog school up over wrecks and rocks and it seems as every time the skipper is out he’s finding another likely tog lair! When I asked him why he’s breaking the cardinal rule of fishing – “Never leave fish to look for fish” – he simply said it makes things more interesting. Or maybe he’s always looking for bigger which is no small accomplishment for a skipper who has often put patrons into the top tog category in the state saltwater fishing derby, including yours truly a few times! The trips continue to be heavy on tog and stripers in the Westport River. Wanna add a little spice to one of your trips with the skipper. Ask him if you can show up a little early and fish for hickory shad off the dock leading to the Little Sister? Those things average around 15” will hit most anything shiny and jump and fight like a mini-tarpon!
Greater Boston Fishing Report
With all this tube talk I just had to consult the tube king himself Pete Santini of Fishing Fishing FINatics in Everett. Captain Santini said that in addition to the harbor, anglers are doing well trolling the red, black and honey mustard Santini tube around Nahant from Bailey’s Hill towards the East Point and out through Nahant Bay! The islands in the harbor remain hot as well with Spectacle and Long getting more than their due of fish. Peanut bunker remain a fixture as are a few schools of adult pogies. A few blues have been caught all the way inshore to the Amelia Earhart Dam. Tube and wormers continue to do well by Encore, the Alford Street Bridge pillings and by the Shraffts Complex. As for cod, no problem with the humps, lumps and clumps by the B Buoy all doing well. Jimmy Walsh’s American Classic continues to wreck havoc on haddock, cod, hake and redfish.
Peanut bunker continue to be a surf fisherman’s best friend according to Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy. Sure enough bass and occasionally blues are pushing the bait in tight to Squantum, Marina Bay, Wollaston Beach, Wessagusset Beach and Webb Park with surf fishers raving about awesome action on both topwaters and soft plastics. Some of the bigger bass have been caught by those drifting pogies through Hull Gut and the West Gut. Hull through Hingham holds small schools of pogies still!
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Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that peanut bunker in Lynn Harbor, Marblehead Harbor and Beverly Harbor usually have mixed sizes of stripers with them. Night anglers fishing the same water with either eels or soft plastic stick baits are catching bigger as are kayakers also working those spots at night. You don’t hear of hickory shad regularly but there seems to be a bump in numbers along the marinas of the North Shore and off the ocean front of Newburyport. While squid numbers aren’t what they were earlier in the season the specimens found off lit docks off Swampscott, Marblehead and Beverly are – big!
My friend Captain Tom Ciulla had no problem filling up the livewell of his T Sea Charters McKee Craft the other day off of Gloucester! In fact the macks were so numerous that they survived a 50 striper trip! While it was tempting to run and gun and toss lures towards busting fish off Thatcher’s Island, Straitsmouth Lighthouse and Coffin Beach, the captain knew that the macks would extract the bigger bass from the feeds!
If you’re curious as to what’s still to come, Liz from Surfland Bait and Tackle in Newburyport has some good news! With many shops up north keeping limited hours now, the hardcore from New Hampshire and Maine patronize Surfland this time of the year. And those guys are all raving of plenty of big bass north of the border! Meanwhile the mouth of the Merrimack is fishing well with some managing to find mackerel and drifting them there. The sand spike gang has been catching stripers up to the mid-40 inches off the ocean front on seaworms. Should you give this a go, keep a casting rod at the ready since with regularity bass have been pushing peanut bunker into the wash. A few blues continue to be caught by chunkers off the jetty.
• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts
Massachusetts Freshwater Fishing Report
It’s been awhile since I talked it up with Eddie of B&A Bait and Tackle Co. in West Boylston about the state of affairs at the Chu’! He said that while water levels have come up somewhat the reservoir is still historically low which is perfect for anglers who want to cover a lot of shoreline. Smallies are in close and schools of smelt are keeping lakers in check as well especially on the Gate 25 side with rainbows and white perch reported as well. Clouds of smelt can be seen off the Causeway with salmon and occasionally rainbows pushing them. There simply hasn’t been enough water volume coming out of the tributaries to spur salmon upstream in preparation of the spawn.
Spenser of Berkshire Bass told me that ponds, lakes and rivers in his realm are heating up as water temperatures cool down. Bigger smallies, largemouth bass and pike are coming in shallower and they are hungry! The best thing about Autumn is that it will only get better!
Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
Stripers are pushing peanut bunker in close and often within casting distance of the shoreline from Kingston to Cohasset. Shad baits, Kastmasters and small topwaters are all working for these aggressive fish. Trolling a tube and worm at the edge the bedlam is highly effective as well, just make sure you have a trolling lane which won’t interfere with others. Nighttime pursuits with eels and soft plastic stick baits remain the best option for a big bass although the tube and worm is a proven performer under those circumstances as well. Hull though Hingham recently held pogies with drifting them through Hull Gut and West Gut a solid bet for a daytime big bass. Mackerel off Gloucester are abundant and the perfect bait to toss in the middle of feeds to find the biggest bass of the bunch. Some however prefer their fishing with a good deal of chilling and for them grabbing a few dozen sea worms, spiking a rod in the Plum Island sand and hoping for the best awaits! With reports of mid-40” stripers caught this way, big bass and relaxation do not have to be mutually exclusive!