Cape Cod Fishing Report- June 8, 2023

Fresh schoolies feed on sand eels while big bass and bluefish chase squid in the rips, and fluke fishing improves amid a slower start to sea bass season.

Last weekend was a total blowout. Sustained 20-knot winds from the north/northeast made for challenging fishing conditions, and even though the wind and chop can really fire up the stripers and blues, it makes bottom fishing particularly challenging. I hope everyone stayed safe on the water last weekend, because if you worked around the wind there was still some good fishing to be had, especially for surfcasters.

I fished the south side of Cape Cod on Friday night as the wind was shifting, and aside from the rampant no-see-ums biting at me incessantly, it was one of the more consistent striper bites I’ve experienced all spring. I tucked away in an area that kept the wind almost completely at my back, and with the wind current and tide moving together, I opted for a long-casting plug that could effectively dig in and reach the strike zone: a yellow bottle plug— a Super Strike Little Neck Swimmer, to be exact. Immediately, bass to 30 inches were on the plug after only a few cranks of the handle, and that action continued every 3 or 4 casts for about 2 hours. I couldn’t stand the bugginess anymore, and shifted spots to get out of the lee. The fish were there too, only the tide was moving slower and they wanted minnow plugs. The SP minnow in the Señorita pattern did the job for another hour or so before the bite died off.


There seems to be a fresh body of migratory bass that are piling into the salt ponds and estuaries this week. Schoolies under 20 inches and bass up to 30+ inches covered in sea lice have been hitting topwater walk-the-dog plugs in the very early morning, and with a little extra shade on account of residual smoke from Canada’s wildfires, the bite could extend to late morning hours in some cases. There have also been 4- to 6-pound bluefish mixed in with the bass, so boost your leader strength or you might lose a plug or two. I found out the hard way by using only 15-pound-test Gold Label Seaguar fluorocarbon.

Other anglers have been focused on fishing around scattered schools of bunker, which have started filing into harbors and rivers over the past week. Jami Price is currently dialed in on a body of 40-inch-class fish that are smashing minnow plugs after dark.

 

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If you can find the bunker, you can find some bass beneath them (in most cases).  Keep your minnow plugs, large topwaters, metal-lipped swimmers and glidebaits at the ready.

Until mid week there were few opportunities for productive bottom fishing in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds due to the gusty, shifting wind conditions we’ve had. So far this season, scup are stealing the thunder from sea bass in most cases too, with dinner-plate sized catches coming over the rail in Buzzards Bay and Nantucket Sound. The sea bass fishing has been relatively slow compared to seasons past, but there are some big keepers in the mix. The best way to find the bigger fish is to play around with your rigs. Diamond and resin jigs with teasers up top, bucktails tipped with Gulp and the classic squid-tipped high-low rigs all have their time and place. With the recent influx of sand eels around Cape Cod and Rhode Island, those low-profile resin jigs with a bucktail teaser or glass minnow teaser could perform very well.

From the Cape Cod Canal, East End Eddie Doherty reports:

“The action had come to a screeching halt on the Canal until Tuesday morning when the breaking tide brought a good size school of striped bass in from Buzzards Bay. Linesiders way above slot were landed by Mike Deryck of Blackstone, “Mashpee Mike” LaRaia, Chuck Franks of Buzzards Bay (who recorded a 40 inch), and Centerville’s Jim Kelly with a 43 inch that bit down on an Al Gags white soft plastic jig. I reeled in a 31 & 36 inch on a Striper Gear green mack Rocket while the owner of that company, Mike Webster fishing beside me, caught a fish with the same lure I was using that looked to be about 20 pounds. High hook goes to “Paulie the Painter” Gravina of Sandwich who was throwing his Hog Island Canal Pencil that fooled an energetic striper weighing 31 pounds!

 There have been several sightings of Buster the Black Bear all over southeastern Massachusetts including Plymouth. A video shows Buster on a dock in Marion, one town over from the Canal, before jumping in the water and swimming across Sippican Harbor so let’s hope the inquisitive carnivore stays away from our fishing spots!

Ian from Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay reports:

“The Cape Cod Canal has fish biting pretty regularly during the early morning with schools of bass rocketing through from Buzzards Bay into Cape Cod Bay. There’s some topwater action in the West End but most of the fish being caught are biting on slow-swimming jigs, especially at the East End. Black sea bass fishing picked up a bit this week, and there are lots of shorts and some just-barely keepers with flurries of knot-headed biggins. Some very large scup are still mixed in with the sea bass too. In the ponds, the largemouth guys are doing really well with senkos as bass have moved shallow, especially during the day when the sun is warming up the flats and coves.”

Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore reports:

“Guys are catching fish in the Canal, especially this morning. The fish were moving through fast and hitting a little bit of everything, but if you were down there you were probably hooking up when that body of fish was passing by you. Cotton Cordell pencil poppers were getting it done on top and paddletail jigs were catching some larger bass below the breaking fish.”

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

“The action in the rips on Cape Cod’s south side have slowed down a little bit but they are holding bigger fish than weeks past. Guys who have been jigging wire/lead core or vertically jigging the deeper parts of the rips of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds have been pulling in slot fish more regularly than the topwater anglers. The night bite with eels has produced some really nice fish both in the rips and in Buzzards Bay. Bluefish have also shown up in the rips and seem to be here in good numbers. Black sea bass fishing is still pretty good in Buzzards Bay and in Nantucket Sound. The sound has had fish pretty deep in the 60-to 80-foot depth range so I would look deeper if you’re fishing the south side. Fluke are also just starting to show up in numbers, we had a customer who limited out on them a few days ago.”

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne reports:

“This week we had some great fishing after a windy weekend. Today we were catching giant blues after getting stripers all morning. Blues were toppling over stripers and beating them to the plug. One of our clients had two gator blues on a 9-inch Doc and it exhausted him. The big blues are getting very competitive out front right now! We left that spot and ended up finding fields of blues and stripers breaking with birds of all over them. They were barfing up sand eels and we saw squid leaping in the rips which is why the fish were chasing big plugs. We even found some butterfish inside a couple of the blues. We also did a little bottom fishing this week but the sea bass aren’t as plentiful as years past, and the big ones we did find were all females which we always release. There were also some giant scup mixed in hitting lures intended for striped bass, namely the white Game On Exo jigs. The scup were dialed in on sand eels which was a ton of fun on light tackle and make a great scup chowder!”

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

“This week has seen some of the best striped bass fishing, not just of this season, but in recent memory. It has been great! Bass from 20 to 32 inches, along with some big bluefish, are feasting on squid and sand eels in the rips, and attacking soft plastics, topwater plugs, swimming plugs and flies. As a bonus, we have also found some black sea bass, scup and fluke. Mostly we have been jigging or drifting bait for these during the slack tide while waiting for the rips to form again.”

Here’s Todd Macklin with one of many bass that ate squid flies in the rips this week aboard Fishsticks Charters.

Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis reports:

“It has been a good week for fishing and we’re happy to be very busy. After the wind died down everything has heated back up, we’ve had customers come in for lures and bait to target stripers and blues, and there’s a good crowd targeting sea bass and scup which have also been biting well out this way. Overall it has been a strong start to the busy season. There is still some good freshwater fishing in the ponds too. We’re selling PowerBait, nightcrawlers and shiners regularly for the largemouth bass crowd and there are plenty of perch, crappie and sunfish biting in shallow as well. It’s a great time to get out there so we’ll see what the weekend has in store!”

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

“After a solid blow over the weekend through Monday with a water temperature drop of several degrees, those impressive mid-40 inch+ fish from the week before had moved – as one would expect with such a dramatic change in the environmental conditions. So our Captains were back to the drawing board on keeping lines tight and Bobby “I-find-the-fish” Rice did just that traveling from multiple locations (good thing he has Mercury Marine 800 hp!) to keep our clients with bent rods. Live bait and vertical jigs continue to be the ticket for nice-sized stripers. Will certainly enjoy these fish during this stretch of favorable weather.”

Captain Cam of Cambo Charters reports:

“Not much has changed for us this week except we did some more fluke fishing as they begin to move in shallow. They’re still deep right now but there are some keepers around, we found a few decent fish using strip baits. Earlier today we also stumbled upon acres of schoolie bass that were boiling on endless schools of sand eels too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much surface action for such a long distance. We’re going out for tuna tomorrow to see what we can do even though on past trips they have had lockjaw, but we’re hoping to hook our first one of the season this weekend.”

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

The weekend weather looks fantastic for fishing aside from some spotty patches of potential precipitation on Friday. With the wind laying down below 10 knots from Friday to Sunday the conditions should be slick calm in the mornings with a little bit of afternoon breeze to create some chop that may prolong any early morning topwater action for bass and blues. There are fresh migratory schoolies on schools of sand eels, and with glassy conditions in the forecast, this weekend is shaping up to be a fly-fisherman’s dream.

The rips are still fishing well for bass on top but they are most likely going to be competing with bluefish for plugs and larger flies. Boost your leader strength by 10 pounds or more, and consider using wire leader if you’re jigging in the rips or throwing flies. If you’re not fishing the rips, there’s plenty of action to be had in the salt ponds in the early morning by casting walk-the-dog style topwaters, Albie Snax or lightweight paddletails like Storm GT 360 Searchbaits and 3-inch NLBN paddletails.

The sea bass season may be off to a slightly slower start than expected, but with fluke moving in shallow and some anglers already scoring limits, there are good opportunities for bringing home a mixed bag of scup, fluke and sea bass fillets. Squid strips are a great option when fluke begin to mix in because of their tough consistency. Gulp will also work well, and with sand eels around in numbers, consider jigging with epoxy and resin jigs or diamond jigs.

If you hit a lull in action or the tide is not on your side, don’t hesitate to dust off a light spinning or casting combo and head down to your nearest bass pond for some largemouth or smallmouth action. Largemouth are hitting senkos and soft plastic swimbaits, and topwater lures during the late afternoon and evening hours.

REMINDER: This weekend is Family Fishing Day on Cape Cod, courtesy of the National Park Service and supporting partners! The event will take place in Provincetown and has three time slots for registration. To take part in the fun, see the image below and sign up by clicking on the image.

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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