Cape Cod Fishing Report- June 15, 2023

Bluefish and stripers feed on squid and sand eels in the rips, fluke fishing shows signs of improvement and scup move in shallow for easy-access shore fishing.

While the official start to summer is marked by the solstice on June 21, summer fishing patterns have already begun as we head into Father’s Day weekend.

There are cocktail bluefish in the bays and off the beaches on the south side of Cape Cod while gators continue to compete with stripers in the rips throughout Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. Stripers are still in the south side estuaries and salt ponds and although they have been plenty active at night, they have been very picky. Meanwhile in Buzzards Bay, bigger bass are keyed in both on sand eels and scattered schools of bunker that have been hanging in the rivers over the past week. Cape Cod Bay is seeing consistent action from quality bass and bluefish on topwater lures in open water, while minnow plugs, eels and various swimming plugs are catching for surfcasters during the night shift.

The June new moon is approaching, so this weekend should see some more movement from striped bass resulting in good fishing if the conditions cooperate. Soon after the June new moon, bass will begin to settle into their summer haunts. Saturday looks like a wash with heavy rain and east winds in the forecast, but if you can tuck away from the wind and find some deeper, moving water on the right tide, the bass fishing could be lights out. If you are fishing the surf this weekend, buckle up and prepare to get wet.

Fluke are in and the bite has drastically improved for bottom fishermen this week. Reports of keeper fluke are coming in from boats targeting sea bass and scup, and there are even some fluke to be had in shallow water— a bite I didn’t expect to pop off for another couple of weeks. There are plenty of shorts in the mix, but I was pleasantly surprised to catch around a dozen fluke on the south side with bucktails, shad darts and Gulp this past week.

Fluke are in! This healthy flatty hit the Gulp-tipped teaser, as most fluke did that morning.
This 18-inch fluke stayed low and devoured one of my hand-tied shad darts. I tied it with natural bucktail colors like white, olive and brown with a bit of crystal flash to match the colors of silversides and other small, abundant forage.

Fluke have always been a favorite target of mine, and while I miss targeting them in numbers from the kayak as I did on Long Island, this shallow-water flats fishing has become my new favorite way to fish for them. A keeper fluke must measure 16.5 inches at minimum, so keep that in mind if you and Dad hook into a couple this weekend.

While I enjoyed some summer flounder action, OTW’s Andy Nabreski headed back to the winter flounder grounds and did well on the blackbacks. One of the anglers on board, Liam enjoyed catching his first ever winter flounder alongside a member of the OTW crew! Andy shared this photo of Liam with his first flounder.

Liam from Connecticut with his first-ever winter flounder, caught in Cape Cod Bay on Tuesday. The flounder fishing is still very good, we came just a few fish short of a full boat limit fishing with Captain Jason Colby on Little Sister Charters.

Good to see the winter flounder bite overlapping with the summer flounder (fluke) season! And maybe more surprising than finding quality fluke in shallow water already, was when I hooked a beast of a needlefish. I have seen them around in numbers, but it seems unseasonably early for these typically late-summer/early-autumn visitors. Then again, I know little to nothing about them. Weird fish, but very cool. I hope to never hook one this size again.

I accidentally snagged this surprisingly large needlefish while reeling in my weeded-up fluke jig.

Between fluke fishing heating up, bluefish and bass hanging around in numbers and some quality sea bass and scup fishing, there are plenty of options for a productive fishing trip with Dad this weekend.

And don’t forget about the largemouth and smallmouth bass action in our freshwater ponds, which has been great. There are lots of three and four pound largemouth being caught in shallow water on senkos, swimbaits and topwater lures like frogs and wake baits.

Because of the new moon, this weekend will be a great time to catch some fish moving through the Cape Cod Canal, which has already been fishing well according to OTW reader Toby Nice. He’s been down there putting in the hours and had this to say of the bite since the full moon:

“The back side of the full moon had some schools of stripers (mixed from schoolies to 30 pounders) aggressive on top water, but that bite has subsided over the last couple of days. Still some bass around but they’ve been finicky, was able to pick up a few on a fly rod in the canal (something almost no one even attempts) after the surfcasting rod didn’t produce. Hopefully it will turn back on with the approaching new moon. I caught this healthy 20 pounder (below) on the fly. It grabbed the fly right in front of me, then immediately turned around and tried to head out to the middle of the canal, taking me into my backing instantly.”

Toby Nice caught beautiful 20-pound striper from the Canal on the fly earlier this week. (Photo by Toby Nice)

East End Eddie Doherty reports:

“The action on the Canal has slowed down again, but not before Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz, the pride of Pocasset, caught 10 striped bass in succession on a variety of plugs including a white Guppy JoBo pencil. His above-slot fish were topped off with a 20 plus pounder. Savin Hill’s Keith Dacey fooled a nice 34 incher with a Tsunami white shad in the middle of the east tide at 3AM. The new moon appears on Father’s Day and there are still schools of bait swimming in the Big Ditch so hopefully more predators return soon. The Army Corps of Engineers will start repairing some parking lots and parts of the service roads beginning next week when the Bourne Recreation Area (under the Cape side of the Bourne Bridge) will be closed from June 20-22. Construction will continue through the first week of July, weather permitting.”

Connor at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“The Canal over the weekend has proven to be consistent with fish being caught almost every morning. Most of these fish are coming on topwater and jigs right at dawn. Nothing huge roaming in the Canal right now, but you could definitely find yourself hooking into plenty of 15- to 20-pound fish in the deeper holes. Surf fishing out on the beaches has been incredible over the past week. I have mainly been using SP Minnows and 24/7 Needlefish and have been very successful with fish up to 35 pounds. Getting closer and closer to the new moon in June, I have been prepping my tackle for a hot Canal bite we have seen in previous years. Make sure you have all your tackle organize and leaders tied up because it could be any day we get another Canal blitz. Tight lines everyone!”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“The Dirk 7-inch, 3-ounce has been the best this past week. Ghost White has been the best producing. After a tough past weekend with the Northeast wind, the Canal has cleaned up. It is well worth heading down there this week. A lot of big bass have been around. Mackerel, squid and bunker have been around for them to feed on.”

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

“I went out Tuesday and caught a ton of fish on topwater outside of Woods Hole with bass on almost every cast. There are tons of squid with them leaping out of the water in many cases. We threw amber-colored poppers and the bass were all over them. Most of the fish were under 28 inches but there were some slots in there with fish up to 35 inches. It was lights out fishing. We were marking loads of bass stacked up in the deeper water, some of which had no problem coming up to the surface for our plugs. This is great to see because the action had slowed in the Vineyard Sound rips until about 3 days ago. It seems like a new body of fish has pushed into the area and the bass are very aggressively feeding. For the bottom fishing crowd, sea bass fishing just hasn’t been great in terms of consistency or size. The bite has been hot and cold, and most of the better fishing is happening in deep water, nearly 100 feet at times.”

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“We’ve been out in the rips catching bass and blues this week but we’ve also been fishing in tight to shore around boulders and finding quality bass. We were also bouncing Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay this week finding some good striper fishing using mostly topwater plugs when the tide was on our side. Our trips have been focused on getting keeper fish for the clients with some action from big blues, plenty of schoolies and a bunch of oversize stripers too. We fished in some shoddy conditions earlier this week with big swells and we could see bass cruising in the waves, and shortly after noticing them, the bass turned on and started hitting our plugs on every cast. We haven’t been doing much black sea bass fishing because it just hasn’t been as good as years past, but we are getting dinner-plate sized scup that are perfect for the table.”

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

“Fishing has been outstanding this week. The rips in Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound are loaded with bass and bluefish chowing on squid and sand eels. Swimming plugs have been most productive this week, but we’ve also had success with topwaters and soft plastics, and flies in both squid and sand eel patterns. Single-hook lures are best when it’s too weedy for lures with treble hooks.”

Nick Wittich and his son Ben reeled in this striper from the rips with Fishsticks Charters this week.

Christian at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“Bluefish have been the main event this week with a lot of customers coming in for bluefish lures. Additionally, one of our regulars caught 30+ bass this morning on the shores of Cape Cod Bay, so there’s some great striper fishing to be had across the Cape. Sea bass fishing is good but there are lots of just-barely short fish, so not a ton of those jumbo knotheads people are looking for. On the up side, scup fishing has been very good and they can be caught in shallow now, with some of our customers catching big ones from the jetty rocks this week.”

Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:

“This has been the week for topwater! Striped bass and blues exploding all over the surface with Daddy Mac’s RD Bomb or other similar profile lures. Morning and afternoon have both been great for artificials, not much need for live bait the past few days. Captain Bobby was out fishing on a half-day morning trip with Bill Hoffmann from the Mass Division of Marine Fisheries and they documented the catch and release of 72 striped bass! ”

The Reel Deal crew has been on a great topwater bite of quality bass and bluefish this week. (@fishreeldeal)

Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:

“Bass fishing has been insane but fluke fishing was kind of slow this week.  We were hopeful for a better bite because the fluke fishing usually picks up around June 10th, but it should improve in the coming weeks. We went offshore this weekend for tuna and marked around 40 fish or more, some that were very good size. There were herring all over the surface and the fish are there beneath them, they just don’t want to bite which was very frustrating. The good news is that bite is going to snap in the very near future, and when it does, the fishing is going to be insanely good. Back toward home on the Cape, there’s been a solid big fish bite for anglers fishing eels in Cape Cod Bay.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

I’m thinking the June new moon is going to set a lot of good things in motion. As fresh migratory bass continue to show up around Cape, it’s very likely that some of those larger bass that have been hunkered down around Rhode Island and Narragansett Bay could push into Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound with the help of these strong new moon tides. There are still squid in the rips and it sounds like the bluefish have thinned out there. They are instead opting for warmer, shallower water in the ponds, bays and off the beaches. If you’re fishing the rips, minnow plugs with single hooks or large topwater poppers and walk-the-dog style lures are great options. Surfcasters can find striped success by casting minnow plugs, bottles, large paddletail swimbaits and eels out front, but if you’re fishing in the backwaters think small (unless you’re using eels).

I’m no offshore aficionado, but I’d put my money on these stormy conditions and a new moon causing this bluefin bite to explode on the backside of the crummy weather. Just my two cents. The bait is there, the tuna community is marking dozens of suspended fish… like I say each spring when the stripers are arriving: it’s all happening.

Fluke fishing is  spotty, but if you can find a good scup or sea bass bite, that’s likely the best bet for catching a couple flatties. Change up your offering, use jigs and teasers, and see what can be done to weed through those platter-sized porgies. Worst case scenario, you end up hooking a few beefed-up scup and hopefully, some nice sea bass. If you’re really interested in finding fluke, the south side of Cape is the best bet unless you’re willing to make a run to the Nantucket Shoals or Nomans Land. There have been some quality fish up to 12 pounds landed at the Shoals. Othwerise, sandy beaches are the most likely locations to find them, and if you can get out on a jetty, the fluke could be sitting in slightly deeper water. I like lightweight bucktails and Gulp on teaser hooks when targeting fluke; a page out of the great John Skinner’s book of tricks. Those jetties are also where a lot of the big scup are right now, so bring some squid for your hi-lo rigs and you might have a fresh scup dinner on your hands.

We want to hear from you! If you’d like to contribute to our fishing reports, reach out to me via email (mhaeffner@onthewater.com) or via Instagram (@hefftyfishing) with a sentence or two reporting your experience on the water, along with any fish photos related to your report.

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