This week has seen some great fishing across the Cape, namely for striped bass, but albies and big bluefish have also provided continuous entertainment for anglers who still have their boats in the water.
Personally, I had a slower week in the surf. Kayak fishing proved to be the best way to locate fish as it gave me the freedom to move around when fishing wasn’t great. I found some schoolies here and there, nothing of substantial size. However, the appetites on some of these smaller fish are remarkable. There’s nothing like seeing a swirl behind your spook only to watch it take flight from the surface moments later as these aggressive schoolies and low-slot fish burst toward the plug with aggression. Sometimes I don’t know if they’re trying to eat it, or if the tail slaps and explosive strikes are by design in order to stun their soon-to-be meal. Either way, it never ceases to put a smile on my face.
When I wasn’t prying the salt, I actually picked up my ultralight freshwater rod for some multi-species fall fishing. Let me tell you, it is always strange to transition from fishing with a 9- to 11-foot surf rod for 6 months, and then picking up a 7-foot trout rod with 4-pound line and a size 2000 reel. It took a few casts to readjust to the sweetwater, but once the fish found my lure, we were back in business.
Like many of us, I tend to start mixing up my approach around mid-October. While there is still a fair amount of fall run fishing to be done, the bulk of the larger fish have moved south for the winter (as evidenced by the bite around Long Island and New Jersey this week). As the chance to beat my personal best this year dwindles, it only makes sense to change things up and find enjoyment in the sport via other species.
What I love about our ponds on Cape Cod is the presence of shiners in large schools. Right around mid-October to November, you’ll find small schools of shiners in shallow water, and a Kastmaster will catch just about anything that eats them. It flutters through the water perfectly no matter how fast or slow it’s retrieved, and closely resembles these small, plentiful baitfish. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon bass or trout “blitzes” around here either. Sounds crazy til you see it. Imagine a small scale striper blitz, when the bass are just sort of gently slurping rain bait from the surface; it’s just like that, only with largemouth or smallmouth bass.
When it proved far too gusty to cast at albies or stripers on Monday, I decided to hit a couple trout ponds with my friend, OTW’s Matt Ryan. While we both would’ve enjoyed a mid-October shore ‘core, we were happy to settle with bending the rod on some recently-stocked rainbows. The fish were crushing— you guessed it— Kastmasters.
Back on the salty front, albies are still around in decent numbers. I chased them around Buzzards Bay for a solid 30 minutes in the kayak on Wednesday but couldn’t connect. Bluefish are hanging around Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. But perhaps the area of most excitement this week, was the Cape Cod Canal.
I headed to the Canal this morning and found great action on topwater as the sun came up. The West End was lively, but from what I heard, so was the East End. There were some explosive blowups in the middle of the ditch as the West tide picked up, and I managed to connect to a few schoolies that were feeding on peanut bunker and bay anchovies. All of the fish were caught on a yellow Gibbs Pencil Popper or a herring bone Super Strike Little Neck Popper. The action was fast and furious, and big fish were blowing up as I struggled to dehook a small bass that went airborne on the Little Neck Popper. One larger fish took a big swipe at the popper on my next cast, but it missed and instead sent the popper twisting in mid-air, tangling the leader in my trebles. I cranked in my lure quickly, but by the time I could get out the next cast I watched it land short of the frothing feeds as they drifted toward the East End, where I hoped Eddie Doherty was waiting to pick up where I left off.
East End Eddie Doherty reports:
“ Every tide continues to hold baitfish for the predatory buffet. Canal Rat Tim Petracca from Bourne, a classy guy who you hope to see every day, was fishing with Ben Faulmino from Sandwich when they got into a 4 hour east end topwater bite that, between them, yielded over 3 dozen striped bass in the 30 & 40 inch class and the next day Tim landed a 43 inch! Expert surfcaster Jack Barton has caught a lot of nice fish over the years, but his most cherished moment came a few days ago when he guided his 7 year old grandson James Astle working a 5 ounce white bucktail with a red Fat Cow jig strip into a west dropping tide on a windy Pip’s Rip afternoon. James caught his very first striper, a 30 inch slot, and also reeled in his first bluefish, a well fed chopper, in front of a crowd of regulars and tourists who got to witness the future of sportfishing in action! Taylor Point’s Bob Weir caught a hefty 35 pound striped bass on an east tide at Pip’s on a soft plastic jig from Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore and Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz from Pocasset landed a 36 inch at the same spot, with the same jig on the same tide! Earlier in the day Bill nailed a 31 pounder on a Striper Gear Rocket in the west end. Experienced Canal Rat Paul Sroczinski of Plymouth fooled 8 bass in the shadow of the Sagamore Bridge including 4 slots and a 36 inch all in an hour on a green mack Savage Gear Sandeel during the rising east tide. Tony from Maco’s Bait & Tackle in Buzzards Bay said that slots continue to be taken on jigs after the storm in the west end.”
AJ Coots at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:
“Jigging at the West End has continued to yield big fish in the 30-pound class. Both the west and east ends of the Canal have been productive lately around sunrise and sunset, with plenty of topwater activity. East End anglers are still catching blues on the soft plastic jigs here and there, but the Canal is full of stripers for the most part and it should stay that way (hopefully) for the next couple weeks.” Stop into Red Top for some replacement tails if you find yourself in a pile of bluefish.
Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:
“Jeff Miller had a report that is clear and promising: folks are coming into the shop really happy as the last two weeks has seen the Big Ditch just explode with big bass. Plenty of people are running to the west end and the east end has a crowd as well, but Jeff said there are fish spread throughout. While nobody is putting away their paddletails, the topwater bite, both in the morning and again in the evening, has been fantastic; mackerel are driving a lot of the action, making mackerel colored plugs and paddletails a hit, but white has been working as well. Jeff noted that folks are also enjoying some really good squidding action around the east end. ”
Evan at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:
“Around Woods Hole and the Elizabeths there’s albies chasing rain bait to the point it’s spraying everywhere. I caught a bunch on 5/8-ounce Hogy jigs, but noticed a few boats running all over in search of the albies. Stay put, don’t waste the gas chasing them because they’ll pop up where you just were most of the time. There have even been some bass mixed in with albies. In Buzzards Bay, tautog fishing is on fire and we have a ton of crabs. The tog bite is also hot on the Sound side of the Elizabeth Islands, with some nice keepers coming over the rail. Lots of guys are also finding stripers in the salt ponds in the mornings and evenings, but they are finicky as they chase these small baitfish. Match the hatch as best you can and it should be successful in hooking a few backwater bass.”
Morgan at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:
“Albies are still around out here but they’re spotty, and they’re closer to shore than usual which is surprising as temperatures drop. Stripers are biting well on the north side in Cape Cod Bay, and the fish range between schoolies to slot size, nothing much larger. However, there are some over slot fish around Centerville and Cotuit. I also caught a good bunch of Northern kingfish from the rocks recently by using a basic hi-lo rig with sand worms for bait. We have green crabs for tautog too, which have been biting well to the west.”
Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:
“We’re still mostly chasing albies, but there have been good numbers of stripers with them too. This week we brought an 82 year old angler, Bob, fishing around the Islands and he fell in love with the landscape. He was ecstatic to be out there, and was a pleasure to fish alongside. We spent most of the morning working around the Islands fishing for albies and did well, and then we finished the day crushing stripers on little 3-inch Heddon spooks. Later in the week, we headed back to the Elizabeths with another group and dropped some of my hand poured diamond jigs to the bottom which caught us some monster tog. We even found a good school of snappers too while casting Game On exo jigs. Fishing is great right now and you can’t beat it when it’s cool, sunny and beautiful out; we’re hoping for more conditions like that.”
Fishsticks Charters in Martha’s Vineyard reports:
“Yes, there are still plenty of albies along the Elizabeths and the north shore of the Vineyard. Though the focus has remained on albies for most of us, this week’s trips produced a wider variety of species than I’ve enjoyed in quite some time. On Thursday, after searching in vain for albies along the Elizabeths, we managed to pull a keeper striped bass out of the rocks along the north shore of the Vineyard. A similarly unsuccessful albie quest on Friday yielded a nice bluefish for Paul Jocas. Finally, on Saturday, Dave Hoskyns and nephew Scott landed a couple of albies in Quick’s Hole. For a refreshing change of pace, Stuart Lombardi and I fished a series of rockpiles along the Elizabeths for tautog on Monday. We released them all, but we could easily have kept a limit of chunky tog up to 18” while releasing many smaller tog and a bunch of sea bass. I am looking forward to shifting my focus to tog once the Derby ends this Saturday, and this trip was a great way to preview what promises to be a great tog season if the weather cooperates.”
Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:
“We’re definitely getting into the October tuna fishing conditions; weather is more challenging and fishing becomes less consistent. We picked up some fish on topwater feeds when weather was agreeable for travel earlier on in the week, although it did require more advanced casting skills which is difficult for novice anglers. Mackerel are still providing results as a reliable back up, particularly if accurately pitched into feeds. Here is a clip from a Giant Tuna on the Spin.”
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain around Cape Cod and the Islands!
Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
It’s clear that most of the larger stripers have left Cape Cod waters. There are still some good fish to be jigged up at the Canal, but to catch sizable bass anywhere else, nighttime will be the best bet. We can still hope for one final push of bigger fish through the Canal, but much of the action has moved south of us at this point. Slot and schoolie bass are here in numbers, and over the next couple of weeks, the slot size class will continue to dwindle.
Tautog fishing is hot, with quality keepers and plenty of shorts coming over the rail from rocky areas around the Elizabeth Islands and Buzzards Bay. As the season progresses, and water and air temperatures drop, expect to find the tog in deeper water. Right now they can be found between 20- and 40-feet, so lightweight rods and jigs are working well.
Albies could be gone any day. It’s been a great season for them, as they showed up in the last week of August and stuck around for quite some time. I may have taken my last cast into an albie feed earlier this week, but that’s okay. After a handful of albies you kind of know what to expect with each hook up, whereas with striped bass, each cast yields the possibility of a big fish. Get out there and fish hard these next few weeks.
It’s still too early in the fall to throw in the towel, but come a month from now, I’ll exchange my saltwater gear for the ultralight freshwater rod until spring rolls around.
Enjoy the weekend, fish hard, respect each other and be safe.
Catch you next Thursday.