With the onset of cod season, I expected to hear of brown bombers but not king mackerel, bonito, sea robbins and even black drum! It’s enough to make an angler wonder just what the heck is going on out there? If your preference is for fish that jump as well as those that go bump, there’s a nice little mixture of those out there as well.
Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report
It’s strange days indeed! A sabiki dropped towards the bottom of Cape Cod Bay through Stellwagen Bank just might come up with a string of baby bonito as it would the intended mackerel! According to Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters regardless of what you hook you had better crank that critter in as fast as possible save getting your catch chomped by a shark! And the variety of sharks out there reads like a who’s who of toothies as blues, threshers, porbeagles as well as a mob of makos are all in abundance!
Now for the cod question, overwhelmingly it appears that you’re all in! Boaters as well as kayakers have been on a cod quest with Pete Belsan, of Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate, picking Stellwagen Ledge, Davis Ledge and Minot Ledge as likely cod lairs but also weighing in that yakers yearning for a cod should target the first rockpile they find after they splash in. As for skipper Rowell he’s finding both haddock and cod, as he has all season, around Stone Ledge with tide mattering greatly as to which species are biting. While he’s unsure why, cod are cooperating on the incoming tide, while haddock are hitting on the outgoing! As to why? I guess you can chalk it up to just another head-scratcher on the ocean! What is less mystifying are the blitzes wherever anglers are finding peanut bunker whether the collision is taking place in the Three Bays, Green Harbor, Scituate Harbor or out through Hull! Scituate Harbor has been home to especially good blitzes as has Egypt Beach and the North River with the latter two also producing bluefish. Other considerations are pollock and haddock along the eastern edge of Stellwagen Bank with shallow portions of the bank a dog park. A few tog have been tugged in off Stelllwagen Ledge and squid are a factor in most harbors from the South Shore through the North Shore.
Water temperatures in the Westport River are beginning to dip from sizzle to bearable for striped bass and Captain Jason Colby couldn’t be happier after a two week lapse. The modus operandi aboard the Little Sister is chumming with clams and then offering those linesiders what’s bringing them to the boat. It’s fun fishing and awfully effective! Slots have been there for the taking with bigger catch and release stripers providing more of a tackle test. Most charter captains would be bemoaning the loss off their most targeted species due to season closure, in this case black sea bass, but Captain Colby has been doing his homework and knows where the tautog are. At his slip, he keeps a couple of crab traps and by now he has a overflowing crab cache at the ready. The wild cards are bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and maybe even king mackerel! Should any of those avail themselves to anglers aboard the Little Sister, there’s gear aboard which can handle it!
Greater Boston Fishing Report
Although Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing is taking a hiatus from the harbor it bears mentioning how he’s doing. Recent outings on the Cape have produced an interesting “quad-fecta” including bonito, false albacore, spanish mackerel and even king mackerel! And some of those kings have been 36” beasts! Odds are that he still has a few openings.
I’ve come to expect more than just the “same old, same old” from my friend Captain Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett but I was not prepared for a report of black drum off Revere Beach! One of his patrons pitching seaworms/Vella Rigs off of America’s first public beach came tight to a 24” and 26” black drum. I wish i had a glory shot to display but the pics – you might say – were not taken from a sporting perspective. Couple this with my recent experience on the North Shore of catching black sea bass and sea robbins while targeting fluke and it’s pretty obvious that this is not the Massbay of old!
For more established fare, Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy said that there are breakaway schools of bunker near Bumpkin Island and other islands in Quincy Bay with big bass and blues with the bait! For cod, anglers are successfully targeting them of ledges such as Strawberry Ledge, Harding’s Ledge, Ultonia Ledge and Martin’s Ledge. Graves Light through the BG Buoy and out through the B Buoy should have them also. Pogy schools with bass and blues continue to hang in there in the North Channel, Crystal Cove and by the ILS Pier. Just lower your expectation on the size of those stripers as a big fish now is a large slot! Peanut bunker remain in abundance and finding them is the key to finding surface feeds. Be patient with those peanuts, those schools are fast moving and sometimes it takes a bit for the gamesters to catch up. Should you be fortuitous to find that favored forage stick with the school, stripers are bound to show up! Fluke continue to be a factor in numerous and unexpected places with this week some caught from the Hull Town Pier. For more on that subject check out the North Shore section!
Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report
My buddy Dave Flaherty from Nahant could sniff out a striper a mile away but as for flatfish, it’s not exactly his specialty! So it was surprising the other day while he was rock-hopping/having his way with mixed sizes of linesiders that he should have a brush with a very toothy flounder. Ordinarily and rightfully so, fluke are found among mudflats, estuaries, shallow harbors and the like and not among the white wash of the rocky north shore. But there it was a soft-plastic cleaving fluke at Dave’s feet. That report had me thinking of splashing in the Hobie in search of a doormat, the other option for yakers in that area through Cape Ann is cod. A few kayaks were observed slow-jigging between Nahant Bay and Egg Rock. A hint s to what they were targeting came through in their overheard conversation when one yelled out to the other “clams”! As we all know clams to cod are like honey to a bear! As good as clams are, in my opinion the one bait above all a cod can’t pass on is a green crab! For a better bet regarding cod consider jumping aboard the American Classic out of Lynn Harbor. Captain Walsh reportedly is acing the cod catch and adding plenty of haddock to the mix as well.
Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem told me that bluefish remain a possibility for trollers off Dread Ledge, Phillips Beach, Tinker’s Island and Salem Sound. Trolling deep diving plugs is the key to hooking up but there are occasional beach blowups as well which have also included stripers; it wouldn’t’ hurt to drive-by a few area beaches at first light! There was a nice little Long Beach bluefish bite recently on adult sea herring just as the sun was peaking through!
Peanut bunker have drawn interest from slot through upper 30” stripers at the gateway of Beverly Harbor. My friend Captain Tom Ciulla of T Sea Charters treated Sal and Chris Lapiana of Stoneham recently to a hot striper bite of Thatcher Island on live mackerel. Yes, in spite of what you’ve heard macks can be found with a little effort! The bass there were respectable fish up to 37”. A busman’s holiday for my friend produced hake and haddock in the Southern Jeffrey’s Ledge area.
Blues are still in the offing for boaters and booters off Plum Island according to Martha from Surfland Bait and Tackle! If she had to circle one spot and one time for an auspicious outing for bass and blues it would be the mouth of the Merrimack at the beginning of the flood! With dropping water temperatures, expect upstream flats and other spots in the Merrimack to start producing fish especially as herring and shad fry begin tumbling towards the sea! The same can be said for Plum Island Sound and through the Parker River. As for those who wish to fish the refuge, your are in luck since permits are being issued for night fishing for lots 1,2,3,6 and 7! The pick for fishing the surf there is a fresh chunk of mackerel!
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Massachusetts Fishing Forecast
There’s a lot to pick from! From the South Coast through the Cape, in addition to the usual striped bass and bluefish suspects, bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel and king mackerel are there for the offing! Oh, did I mention terrific tog action on the Westport side of Buzzards Bays? Cod all along the South Shore are a cinch with Stellwagen Ledge a standout. Hull has a nice little pogy/bass and bluefish bite with Bumpkin Island a good bet. The smattering of ledges outside of Nantasket Beach/Point Allerton are holding cod as does Graves Light and irregular bottom by the B Buoy. Peanut bunker/bass/bluefish blitzes in Boston Harbor are something to always keep an eye out for. Adult pogies are still in residence in Winthrop and with them are some of Boston’s biggest bass. Of course there’s always the run-of-the-mill black drum bite off Revere Beach! Cod can be found in close off the North Shore with Nahant noteworthy as is Swampscott and Marblehead. Mackerel have moved in to the Gloucester area and won’t last long when live-lined off the Salvages, Thatcher Island or Salt Island! Farther north, the mouth of the Merrimack is a must-try off Newburyport! With dropping water temperatures smallmouth bass farther upstream of the Merrimack are stirring and a worthwhile option once again! Black bass in general are now an interesting possibility no matter where you wet a line now with topwater tops!