Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 25, 2023

Robbie Roberts striped bass
Robbie Roberts took this nice Cape Ann striper with a white spook!

With herring still swarming the rivers, pogies pushing into bays and harbors and sea herring hanging among the Harbor’s humps what more could a striped bass want? Anglers who want flounder, striped bass, groundfish and squid are finding that the going is pretty good also. As for those who always want just a little bit more – we’ll throw in an extra day off this weekend to fish!

Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report

Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate has heard of a few blues who appear to have pushed through the canal and into the Three Bays! Doubtless they are wrecking havoc on the pogy population there. Hedge your bets by hitting herring runs which over the next two weeks will remain at their peak and will then flood and ebb with no predictability until the end of June. There have been 40 pound herring-busting bass taken around the Third and Fourth Cliffs. Beaches have held blitzes with Burkes, Rexhame and Egypt all fishing well. In addition to the larger bait there is smaller forage which the bass are sometimes focusing in on so be prepared to deploy different size wares should the fish be fussy. Tinker mackerel are gathering out just offshore and if ever there was a slam dunk bait for bass that would be it! Haddock remain in close with some scoring around Scarlett Ledge. As for flounder a few are being picked off of Priscilla Beach and Peggotty Beach but the going is not great.

Lee Smith flounder
Lee Smith caught this corker flounder while fishing with Captain Jason Colby.

Dalton Clayton flounder
Dalton Clayton hauled in this slab Sesuit flounder aboard the Little Sister.

However, if great flounder fishing along with some lively conversation is what you’re after, I “got the guy”! On Tuesday I was invited along with a few other “older” gents aboard Captain Jason Colby’s Little Sister Charters out of Sesuit Harbor. I had the pleasure to fish alongside Carl Johansen who when I “grow up” I want to be just like. Having fished much of the same water and for the same species the conversation didn’t have too many pauses and for that matter neither did the fishing. The six of us reached our limits easily with good average size including Dalton Clayton’s 19” fatty flatty which looked like a throwback to Boston Harbor’s good old days. The flounder fishing is really that good there, but should you give it a go, be prepared to drift and to anchor. With little traditional structure, all those flounder are spread out so be ready to drift over a lot of water until you find them. Once found or should the wind be whipping then drop anchor and chum them up. There are also mackerel and stripers present and when you put those two together you tend to have a tight line!

Greater Boston Fishing Report

Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett told me that the reloaded Zobo Boston Harbor Flounder Fishing Tournament kicked off in fine form Sunday. Boston’s best shore-based flounder fisher – Antoine Scott – took the top prize. That underscores how important flounder have always been to Greater Boston, in that if ever there was a utilitarian fish, the blackback is it. A bedecked, six-figure sportfishing boat is not needed, heck fishers historically didn’t even need a boat to catch and Antoine is proof. The photo of the winner circle said it all, while the runners-ups were wearing water-proof deck boots, Mr. Scott had on – shoes! Old school spots such as Peddock Island, Rainsford Island, George’s Island and Long Island have all been giving up a flounder bite along with limits. Less you think it’s strictly an island thing, Nut Island Pier, the Castle Island Pier, the Deer Island Pier and the Lynn Pier are all possibilities.The best bet for bass in Boston at the moment seems to be between the Hyatt Hotel and Castle Island. Pogies are in there thick and with them are a nice pile of low to mid-30” stripers! Bigger bass have been found feeding on river herring by the locks of the Charles River. There also now is the sea herring wild card option as evidenced how my friend Captain Mike Keiselbach did last week. Rather than chase the fleet and the surface feeds he gauged that George’s Island just might have some larger lone-wolf stripers feeding on sea herring. A lack of visual cues belied what was going on below but Mike and his grandson noticed interesting marks on the fish finder. Knowing that when sea herring are on the menu big bass will blast a bait many feet above them, out came the poppers. Mike set up 13 year old James with a light-tackle outfit and would have been perfectly content with a schoolie, when a 45” beast crashed the plug. As Mike told it, his grandson played the cow like a pro and once landed they took a quick picture and watched her swim away! It might be high time you payed attention to this phenomenon of sea herring and big bass by the outer islands and out to Graves Light, the BG Buoy, the NC Buoy and Devil’s Back.

James Keiselbach striped bass
13 year old James Keiselbach with a 45” striper that hit a popper aboard his grandfather’s boat.

As if on cue, Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing is slated to be back in Boston by this Sunday. One of the skipper’s specialties is hitting the Harbor Humps hard for those herring-eating cows. In addition to the usual wares such as Topwaters and Al Gag’s Skirted-Whip-it-Fish, he intends on doing a lot of flutter spoon fishing there. Currently Brian is all in on the Buzzards Bay black sea bass bite where he’s achieving limits of 18-21” fish on jigs/Gulp Swimming Mullets. However, next week it’ll be all about Boston bass.

• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that mackerel and squid are there for the taking near the islands of Salem Sound. If the BG Buoy is more to your liking, mackerel can be found there as well. There have been no recent reports on striper activity with the bait in those spots but there have been good reports of slot-size and bigger bass off Dread Ledge, Preston Beach, Phillips Beach and Castle Rock. Kayakers have been catching bass and flounder in those same locations. Rock hoppers who frequent the shop are reporting good action for mixed sizes of stripers off the shorelines of Gloucester as well as Rockport. Those spots always are attractive to stripers thanks to the bouillabaisse of bait such as crabs, lobsters, cunner, pollock and mackerel. The blackback bite in Beverly Harbor has been hot as has haddock/pollock from Tillies Ledge.

TJ from Three Lantern Marine told me that Manchester Harbor and Gloucester Harbor have been good for stripers and little wonder with mackerel still present inshore. The Annisquam, Ipswich, Rowley and Essex Rivers are all holding striped bass. Most of the fish are not fussy and will fall for all manner of topwater baits as well as sub-surface offerings.

If you enjoy fishing Plum Island (who doesn’t?) but would like to eschew crowds than Liz from Surfland Bait and Tackle in Newburyport has the answer – hit the beach! The swath of the Merrimack River, from the Captain’s Fishing Charters dock to the sandbar, while productive can get busy and with the holiday weekend approaching a reprieve might be in the cards for you. Liz said that anglers walking/wading the shoreline are catching have less competition yet are catching all kinds of stripers from all sorts of offerings from bait to spoons to jigs and of course plugs. A couple current crushes for casters there are the Bill Hurley Cape Cod Sand Eel and the venerable SP Minnow! There are plenty of fish in Plum Island Sound as well as all the way upstream of the Merrimack River especially by the Chain Bridge.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

If you’re in the mood for something with bite try a trolling plug throughout the Three Bays for a blue which might have just wandered into the area from Buzzards Bay. A bass best bet is to jig up some macks and work the area beaches such as Burkes and Rexhame and if you have the time cast a few among the rockpiles of Fourth Cliff where cows are often found grazing. Regarding a bite, if you’re looking to sink your teeth into something delicious than sweet Sesuit flounder fillets are an option as are haddock off Scarlett Ledge. Big Boston bass are in tight to the Charles River herring run while schoolie through slots can be found closer to Castle Island. While there may be nothing visually discerning among the outer islands and out through the Boston Humps the combination of bait and big migrating bass make this a tinder box ready for a conflagration. On the North Shore, squid are plentiful near Salem Sound as well as Gloucester Harbor. Mackerel remain in abundance among Cape Ann harbors with stripers nearby. Area beaches are holding fish now with Plum Island a standout for those who don’t mind putting a few miles on their wader boots!

8 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – May 25, 2023

  1. Bad News

    Be nice if Captain Jason Colby kept his mouth about the cape cod bay flounder. Go back to Westport please.

    1. Cape

      I agree he is a danger on the water. He sunk his boat with customers on it. He went out when the weather was bad.
      Jason Colby is a hack!!!!!!!
      He never cleans his boat or do proper maintenance.

  2. Absurd

    The spot burning on this site is mind blowing. I’m sure none of the spots they fish are are mentioned.

  3. Chris

    Would you please encourage proper catch and release of stripers? Hoisting them vertically for a photo is bad for the fish. Get them back in the water without harm.

  4. George D

    So regarding Jason Colby, he’s a great captain. His 31 ft Contender is properly maintained mechinally. Has two brand new 300 Yamahas and a brand new spot lock. He charges a fair rate without the need for a mate. Over the 8 years I’ve fished with him I’ve come home with tons of bottom fish and stripes/blues. He moved to Sesuit to continue his tradition of spring flounder fishing as Boston absolutely dried up due to draggers. All his customers followed and he is prospering. I go floundering 6 times a year then follow him to Westport for Sea Bass Tautog Cod Stripers Fluke and Blues. It’s hard for people to say he’s a hack when he has a booming business especially in the current fishing climate with crap regulations. Fish with him and see for yourself.

  5. Walleye

    Cool Slow start but caught our slots on the fly on the three bays yesterday morn. Some blues mixed in, Mac’s out front . Tight lines.

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