Late June is arguably the best time of year to be an angler on Cape Cod . Striped bass are still migrating north, sea bass season is well underway, jumbo scup are seemingly everywhere, bluefish of all sizes are here in numbers, fluke fishing is improving, the bass ponds are bursting with life, and of course, bluefin tuna begin to feed voraciously as ocean water temperatures hover around the mid to high sixties. Everywhere you look, there’s the possibility of a hot bite if the conditions are right.
Speaking of heat… it’s officially summer, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it! The humid late-June weather has yet to really show itself which has made fishing very comfortable (knock on wood). I admit, with so many options I struggle to decide which of the aforementioned desirable species is most deserving of my efforts. I love a good nighttime striper bite, but sometimes you’ve got to shake things up.
After experiencing a tougher bite during the new moon last weekend, I did just that. I had a slow morning of fluke fishing last Sunday with only a couple shorts to show for it, but a friend of mine had inspired me to pick up my fly rod again and spend a little time on one of our beautiful kettle lakes. So, that’s how I spent the afternoon, and I’m glad I did. I couldn’t remember the last time I used my 5wt. The water was warm and there was a slight breeze, so I waded out to a flat rock with the fly rod in hand, wondering what the pond had in store. Gnats and various small flies were everywhere, and fish were eating them off the surface right in front of me, so I opted for a dry fly. Twenty minutes later, I had several dinky smallmouth bass under my belt and a few surprisingly tiny ones. It was an incredibly relaxing outing, and in a way, it felt like I recalibrated my system.
Right now, anglers are more focused on bottom fishing and striped bass, both of which have provided some good action this week. We’re hearing of more and bigger fluke being caught by anglers fishing in Buzzards Bay, which is a nice consolation prize when sea bass don’t cooperate. I was able to catch a nice keeper earlier in the week, which my buddy Zack promptly filleted for the dinner table.
And while fluke fishing has been improving, it looks like the next 6 days or so are bringing some crummy weather, which will make bottom fishing more challenging. That’s fine, because striped bass are here in numbers and in Buzzards Bay, there are some concentrated schools of bunker that have kept the bass satiated and stationary over the past week or two.
Not far from the pogy schools by the Cape Cod Canal, mackerel have been fueling some fantastic striper fishing early in the morning. Despite the new moon tides last weekend, there wasn’t the “lights out” action that was anticipated by angler fishing the Big Ditch, but in the days following those new moon tides the bass fishing erupted in the West End.
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From the Canal, East End Eddie Doherty reports:
“Striped bass up to 44 inches were caught this week in the Canal. Rods were bent all around as schools entered the Big Ditch from Buzzards Bay on the breaking tides caused by the new moon on Father’s Day. I caught a 36 incher the previous morning on a 3 ounce white Guppy JoBo Jr. and a 38 incher on Father’s day with a fish-oil infused white Hurley Canal Killer. The next day Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz from Pocasset landed a beautiful 42-inch linesider that was feeding in close and Bourne’s Tim “Hollywood” Petracca reeled in a slot. Hollywood had caught a 29-inch bluefish a few days before so the yellow eyed devils are in the mix as well. Mark Beckford from Melrose fooled a nice 36-inch striper with his wacky mack pencil, the fish taking the unusual tack of heading straight for the bottom initiating a tremendous fight and “Taunton Teddy” Menard landed a tagged fish. As for bait, mackerel had been inhabiting the east end, but they are now everywhere. The Army Corps of Engineers announced that the Tidal Flats Recreation Area (Bell Road) will be closed from June 23 thru 27 for parking lot repairs, weather permitting, and the 15th Annual CCC Boating & Water Safety Day is scheduled for June 24 from 10-2 p.m. rain or shine at the Visitor Center, US Coast Guard Station, Sandwich.”
Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:
“Fishing in the Canal this week has been very consistent. With a continued quick sporadic topwater bite in the early mornings, followed by a jig bite in the later hours of dawn, fishing has been very good throughout the week. The fishing may not be anything to write home about, however you can definitely go to the Canal and your odds of catching fish are definitely in your favor. Fishing out in the surf has been phenomenal, with fish up to 40lbs being caught almost consistently. Finding rock piles that are located in choke points that will hold fish is key to success when fishing the beaches. Bluefish have also been found in large numbers on most south facing beaches. With the new moon quickly approaching and plenty of bait surrounding the Canal, I suspect a very good weekend ahead of us. Good luck to everyone and tight lines!
For Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore, Dave Peros reports:
“The general consensus is that the Big Ditch was better as of mid-week last week and the improvement continued through Friday. In the Cape Cod Bay report, I talked about color and its relative importance when selecting a soft plastic, but the word from Jeff Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle is that they had a run on their green mackerel shad style paddletails. There are a lot of different body styles when it comes to larger soft-plastic paddles and you would end up with a pretty wide variety of opinions if you were to gather up, say, 50 Canal regulars about which one is their favorite, so I won’t get into that issue. It does seem to me, however, that the heavier versions, in the five-ounce range, are very popular; that said, any experienced Canal angler is going to acknowledge the necessity of carrying different jig weights – whether plastic or bucktail – to deal with varying stages of the currents. With a concentration of mackerel at the east end on the building east tide, most folks have been focusing their jigging efforts there, Bruce said, but there has also been some smaller bait around as well throughout the land cut; whether they are sand eels or silversides or some other small baitfish, smaller, heavily-weighted pencil poppers worked the best.
Jeff Miller reported that livelining has been very productive on larger fish outside of the east end; of course, the key is being able to find the schools of mackerel. Jeff noted that some folks commented that they could have “loaded up” on mackerel, although what that number of fish meant to them wasn’t clear. What I was left wondering is how many recreational anglers are aware that there is a 20-fish bag limit for mackerel, and that applies to whether you are using them for bait or for food.”
Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters on Martha’s Vineyard reports:
“We are still experiencing some of the best fishing for striped bass and bluefish we’ve had in several years. However, a slower than average day on Monday makes me suspect that it might be starting to sputter. It’s hard to predict how long this outstanding fishing is going to last and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying it while it lasts. The spots closer to home have been fished pretty hard and they tend to get pretty crowded, so I have been making some longer runs this week and we’ve been finding tons of fish. Both ends of the island have got lots of striped bass from almost-keeper-size to just-over-slot-size and some very big bluefish. Both bass and blues are very well-fed, chunky fish. They’re not the slender, lean fish you see in the early spring after they have just arrived from their migration. These fish have got some shoulders on them, and full bellies, too, as they’re feasting on the abundant bait. We saw such thick schools of sand eels yesterday, it seemed like every bird in a ten-mile radius had gotten the memo and showed up. The fish were there, too, and we had constant action through the whole tide. It was not a good day to be a sand eel. Meanwhile, I have been hearing reports of crazy good tuna fishing in the canyons and maybe a bit closer, so I’m waiting for the right weather to line up with my charter schedule so that I can get out offshore. I am looking forward to doing some tuna charters as well as some Nantucket Shoals fluke trips.”
Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth reports:
“Striper fishing has been pretty great this week in the afternoons, with lots of bass and thankfully, no bluefish in the rips. Amber Albie Snax and poppers were catching for us because the bass were eating smaller squid that we could see fleeing on the surface beneath flocks of birds. We caught around 20 bass one afternoon with some slots and over-slots in the mix, but a majority of them were in the mid 20-inch range. There have been lots of guys using eels recently in the deeper parts of the rips, and that’s been effective for pulling up some larger fish. One of my customers has also been trolling bunker spoons on the south side and is catching some really big bass, which is great to see. From Woods Hole throughout Vineyard Sound it seems like the predominant bait is still squid, but there have also been anglers live-lining scup. Note that a keeper scup has to be over 10.5 inches on private vessels, whether for the table or for bait; and that’s a big bait, so it is worth trying if you’re looking for some trophy fish.
On the bottom fishing front, fluke fishing has picked up a bit in Buzzards Bay and on the south side, but there’s been a lot of short action before finding a keeper. Sea bass anglers have brought in mixed reports, with some doing well in 60 to 80 feet and others finding their limits in around 20 feet.”
Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:
“We are getting some really good stripers and bluefish this week, with some of the blues taping out around 38-inches. We were doubling up consistently and the blues earned their tackle-busting names by ripping through leaders and snapping us off a couple times, so we switched to wire leader, and that didn’t bother them! Our clients have been catching two bluefish on one plug on multiple occasions. We were also finding some stripers between 35- and 40-inch fish pretty regularly this week until the wind really kicked up today (Thursday). Earlier in the week we also did a little bottom fishing for scup and sea bass. It’s been a tougher pick for sea bass though, so we’re bouncing around quite a bit to find them but still getting it done in deeper water.”
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Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:
“The rips in Vineyard Sound are still fishing well for stripers, with lots of schoolies and some low 30-inch fish mixed in. Cape Cod Bay is also still producing lots of low 30 inch fish for the surfcasting crowd. To the west there have been some larger stripers in Vineyard Sound hunkered down in deeper water, so jigging or dropping live baits has been productive. The bottom fishing been decent, there are lots of short sea bass that have been very difficult to get through which is making it hard to put together a limit. There are also some short fluke mixed in, and people are having good success scup fishing pretty much everywhere you look.”
Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reports:
“Bobby picked up his first bluefin tuna of the season yesterday on the spin with Centaur Angler’s Choice rod and Hogy Epoxy jig. Have been seeing a lot of whales and life, which is a great sign and even spotted an Orca breach – that was a first for this area! https://fb.watch/ljRPyssirE/
Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:
“Fishing is good this week for striped bass, but we’re going out for tuna tomorrow. It’s been pretty insane out there from what I hear with lots of action from schoolie bluefin depending on where you go. I marked some larger fish the last trip out, but we’re going to bring the “bass” gear and hopefully find some action from smaller bluefin if the giants won’t cooperate. On the bass fishing front, there’s good fishing at the West End of the Canal and in the rips on the south side. Last Friday we did really well at the rips with Docs, catching about 50 bass all around 30 inches.”
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Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
Well, the forecast for the next 6 days is pretty disheartening, but a little rain never stopped fish from biting! The possibility of thunder and lightning, however, has historically stopped fishermen from fishing. There will be weather windows, and who knows, maybe the forecast won’t play out as anticipated. It looks like there will be one or two days of clear weather, so if the wind dies down, it should give boaters and kayak anglers ample time to get out to the rips for stripers or do some close-to-home bottom fishing.
It could be the perfect weekend to switch things up; you can focus your efforts on a different species, seek out weather- and wind-protected areas, or maybe even try some freshwater fishing if the conditions keep you at the dock or out of the surf. Make smart judgements out there. It’s fine to push the envelope in shoddy conditions within reason, just don’t put yourself or others at risk over some short sea bass. Despite the negative outlook, I’ll remain optimistic. Surfcasting in snotty weather is fun, and sometimes the fishing is lights out as a result of heavy chop, high winds and turbulent conditions that dislodge baitfish from hiding. Assuming there’s no lightning, I recommend giving the foul-weather surf fishing a try. Bottom fishing activity will likely take a dive this week if the wind keeps up like this.
To duck out of the wind and still put a bend in the rod, don’t hesitate to scout your local bass pond for some largemouth or smallmouth bass. It may be underwhelming after catching stripers on topwater in the rips, but if catching fish is the end goal, then this could keep the skunk away. And who knows, a laid-back sweetwater outing might be just the thing the doctor ordered during a week of thunderstorms and shifting winds.
Stay safe out there, respect each other, respect the fish and the water, and fish hard.
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