Massachusetts Fishing Report – June 22, 2023

Marco Ciccerano striped bass
Marco Ciccerano fooled this 49” North Shore cow with a soft plastic stick bait.

It’s hard to complain about a 50” striper, but some are doing just that! As to why, it is because epochal outings that result in such cows could be filed into the here-today, gone-tomorrow category with no consistency. Those who fervently follow such things are theorizing that the lack of plentiful pogies is the reason few can gauge the movements of big bass. Fish of that size need a lot of forage to survive and no prey species fills that role quite like pogies do. Change is often but a tide away and some Charlie chasers are serving up hope with news that there appears to be an offshore push of pogies inward.

Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report

The antidote for the angler with attention deficit disorder just might be a trip with Captain Jason Colby of Little Sister Charters. Trips out of the Westport side of Buzzards Bay are often beginning with tautog and after that box is checked off they are moving onto black sea bass with fluke now a wildcard when time warrants it. In the past I’ve been part of the crew when a melange of species is brought on board and someone usually poses the question “how many types of fish have we caught?”. The answer has sometimes approached double digits. Inshore water temperatures are idyllic now for fluke, and you shouldn’t have to travel far with some even in the Westport River. A bucktail jig on the bottom with a dropper loop, 4’ leader/teaser a foot above the jig should do the trick. For bait, a Gulp Swimming Mullet will work as will squid strips, fish belly strips as well as spearing, killifish and mummichogs. My preference is for live versions of the latter three; getting down to brass tacks, that’s what they are eating. Stripers and big blues are cooperating there as well.

Armindo Ramos
Armindo Ramos with a find Buzzards Bay black sea bass taken aboard the Little Sister.

As of this writing I was still awaiting word from Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters who had heard of Plymouth pogy prospects, principally off Manomet. Most everyone knows how hot that spot was when big bass collided with pods of pogies last year resulting in incredible fishing. The North River still is holding fish albeit schoolies while slot and bigger can be found by the mouth of the river, beaches and embayments. Tinker mackerel are proving easier to find and are such good bait most feel that the effort is worth it.

Dalton Clayton fluke
Dalton Clayton caught the first keeper fluke of the season while fishing with Captain Jason Colby.

Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate said that big blues have moved onto the South Shore and as far north as Nantasket Beach with some of the gators stretching across a yardstick! X-Raps and Rapala Magnums are tricking the toothies while some trolling mackerel/pogies are finding big bass along with them in deeper water. Minot Ledge, Flatt Ledge and Davis Ledge have been especially good. Tuna have moved onto the offshore ledges and banks with school fish to mediums dominating the catch.

Greater Boston Fishing Report

The saying goes something like, “never leave fish to find fish”! Thankfully that expression does not register with Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing. My buddy Steve Langton chartered the captain for the morning on Thursday, and because of a cancellation by one of his sons, a fortuitous opening occurred and when invited I couldn’t say yes fast enough. With word of some pogies in what has been the harbor’s hot spot – Castle Island through the Seaport District – the fist stop was there. Diving gulls belied bait that was being pushed/pummeled by bass. My mates and I had steady action on a variety of offerings including flutter spoons, Al Gag’s Whip it Fish, Doc topwaters as well as the MVB itself (most valuable bait) – pogies. Pot-bellied slots provided plenty of action but typical of a committed captain, Brian was out for better. The word from harbor watermen we spoke to was that bigger schools of pogies were just offshore with the wait on as to when they would cruise in closer. Fresh with that news off we went in search of bigger and boy did we find them! Brian marked what he thought was intermittent pogy schools, which just could be the first wave of a surge, so out came the trolling rigs with pogies the offering. I didn’t think that there was much more I would need to know about pogies but Brain passed along an invaluable tip – steer clear of blotchy bunker! You know the look; the beaten up hapless pogies which bump against their enclosures and take on the look of one long nose-to-tail rash? Stripers shy away from that unnatural looking bait! I never knew that but proof is in the catching and onto the Harbor humps we went. Not far into the run the skipper stopped, pointed to his Humminbird screen and said, “Pogies”! Out came the bait and on came the cows up to 46” long! As good as that was, it took a backseat to a buddy of Brian’s who tallied his personal best bass which we zoomed over to take a peek at and snap a photo. This monster was 51”, very fat and 50 pounds all day long! More and bigger bait just might be on the way and that could prove to be a game changer and maybe set a pattern for those big breeders! While we were at it, we had a pogy chomped in half, doubtless the handiwork of a bluefish. Not surprisingly a short while later we heard a captain call out on the radio that he was into blues!

Steve Langton striped bass
Steve Langton landed this 51” monster which took an eel off an area beach in only a few feet of water.

Night stalker kayak buddies of mine are poking around harbor embayments at night and catching monster stripers up to 51” at night on Slugs-Gos, GT Eels and of course eels. Until those pogy reinforcements fill in, expect those big bass to remain on the move as they search for enough forage to sustain their large size.

Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy told me that on the “south side” of the harbor, mackerel can be found from Boston Light to outside of Hull and anglers have been finding striped bass with the bait. Anglers following flounder as they move offshore are encountering tautog in many of the same spots. Boston Ledge, George’s Island and Hospital Shoals have been the hottest for harbor flounder as well as the occasional blackfish. Regarding “black fish”, black sea bass are becoming more common in Hull Gut as well as West Gut. A few of them as well as squid have been caught from the Nut Island Pier.

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

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

How ironic is it that just when the lack of pogies is concerning, thousands wind up dead in Salem Harbor because of “equipment failure” from a pogy purse seiner. The only ones pleased with that have been gulls and lobstermen who are loving the free bait! Tomo from Tomo’s Tackle in Salem was the first to inform me of that tragedy. Fortunately he was also the purveyor of more positive news as some pogies can still be found from Nahant through Salem and with them are some very big bass! Mackerel are available off Egg Rock, Misery Island and Halfway Rock but if you crave cows it’s hard to top a pogy! Bluefish are now part of the equation with trolling deep diving plugs among the surest ways to find them. There has even been good sized bonito in the neighborhood! Those looking for haddock on Jeffrey’s Ledge, Tillies Ledge and Stellwagen are finding plenty of cod but few fish for the cooler.

The biggest pile of pogies just might be in Ipswich Bay according to Garrett from Three Lantern Marine. He has a hunch that the commercial fleet are hitting their mark with bass shadowing the bunker schools. Some are still doing well trolling the tube-and-worm early in the morning in Gloucester Harbor. Those same worms are being put to good use among the coves/flats of the harbor for flounder which are still in close. Other flounder spots of note are Niles Beach, the Jones River, Wingaersheek Beach and Folly Cove. Mackerel have not been hard to find in the area around the Groaner. Some are catching at Coffin’s Beach by trolling/live lining those mackerel.

Kevin from Surfland Bait and Tackle in Newburyport said that the first reports of bluefish off the ocean front are coming in. The recent new moon tides drew some impressive striped bass in close with everything from Crane’s Beach through the Merrimack River fishing well. Sandy Point through Plum Island Sound has been good also. Boaters are passing on live macks and opting to fish around the pogy schools of Ipswich Bay with the bite reportedly solid.

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

Thanks to the appearance of bluefish you now have a use for those beaten up old plugs of questionable vintage and sturdiness of hooks! Of course the angler’s law states that moments after you crack open a package of pricey soft plastics, old yellow eyes will move in making short work of those new baits. There are some monstrous striped bass around which undoubtedly would result in personal best achievements for many but they are nomadic and will remain so until they find a stable school of pogies. Hopefully the schools we witnessed out by the Humps were the first of many waves of menhaden cruising into Massbay. Mackerel are there for the taking outside of Boston Light and there have been some bass shadowing them. The North Shore from Salem through Ipswich Bay just might have the biggest bunch of bunker in the Bay State with both blues and stripers not far away.

3 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report – June 22, 2023

  1. Stece

    Ron,another thorough report and the Pogie info is very concerning but we’ll have to wait and hopefully see their arrival in numbers soon.It’s also very interesting about the bass being selective as to the condition of a pogie offered as bait. I will keep that in mind.,Thanks

  2. Celia Martin

    The Marblehead woman catching all the flounder from her dingy is my sister Cindy Gifford. She catches a lot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *