Cape Cod Fishing Report- August 17, 2023

Albies chase schools of silversides, stripers and blues ramp up in the Canal, and fluke fishing holds, a tarpon is caught and released on the south side of Cape.

Busy, busy, busy is the only way to describe anglers, captains and tackle shops this past week. As reports of albies increase, tackle shop walls that were once decorated with colorful, shimmering tins and epoxy resin jigs are stripped down to nothing more than empty pegs. The craze has begun. It’s everyone’s favorite season between seasons… albie season.

Albies have trickled in from offshore waters over the past week, and they’re finally available in some more targetable numbers. A majority of the feeds are popping up along the islands while kayak and shore anglers on the Cape anxiously await the speedsters to push in closer. Buzzards Bay and the south side of Cape Cod are rich with micro bait, and scattered pods of albies have been popping up between Monomoy and Falmouth. Bonito and cocktail bluefish are with them, too, and trolling has been an effective method when the bonito and albies aren’t showing on the surface.

Speaking of bonito, we can’t gloss over how great they are as table fare and as shark bait. This past weekend, local angler Hans Brings caught a 4 1/2-foot sand tiger shark on a bonito chunk on the south side of Cape Cod. Sand tigers are far less common than the typical brown (sandbar) sharks that are caught on Cape Cod. Even more surprising, however, was the 5-foot long tarpon that Brings caught on a chunk of bluefish just 90 minutes after releasing a sand tiger.

Hans Brings of Mashpee, MA with a 5-foot tarpon he caught on Cape Cod using a chunk of bluefish.

While many were up in arms over the angler’s handling of this unexpected catch prior to its release, it is worth taking a moment to marvel at the fact that Brings was even able to successfully hook and land this fish in southern New England. Congratulations on the catch of a lifetime. Read the full story here.

Fluke fishing has been a bit more hit or miss recently, but I found a good pile of flatties from shore during lunch earlier this week. Two were keeper size, two were not, all were released, and 3 hit the teaser while one of the larger flatties smoked the Al Gags jig with a Gulp trailer.

Fluke are still biting in shallow water, although poor water clarity and shifting winds has made it difficult to dial in a bite.

Fluke fishing was a backup plan. I had initially hoped to catch one or two small bluefish or a bonito to use for shark bait, but they wouldn’t cooperate. They cooperated for other anglers on Cape though. Noah Lamperti of Riverview Bait and Tackle in South Yarmouth got into some mid-August albies in Nantucket Sound earlier in the week under overcast skies.

Noah Lamperti (@noahlamperti) caught some XL albies while fishing in Nantucket Sound this week. (Photo by Ryan Hodgin @ryan_hodgin3)

Meanwhile on Nantucket, the August Blues Tournament is well underway, and local surfcaster Rick Ramos had more to report than some big bluefish. Rick said the first albie was caught on August 9th by Captain Lynn Heyer of Cross Rip Charters. Since then, albie numbers have been increasing daily and they’re hitting lures like the Island X Hellfire 180, a good imitator of squid, which are still abundant around the island.

Sam Brandt caught this hefty albie on an Island X Hellfire 180 in the amber color, which closely resembles the color and profile of small squid.

Rick also reported that bonito are being caught consistently by both boat and shore anglers, although not in great numbers. Big bluefish, on the other hand, have been plentiful and they are being caught regularly in the surf and by boaters targeting bonito or albies with metals, resin jigs and plugs. Striped bass have been more difficult to come by in recent weeks, but anglers who are putting in the hours are being rewarded with some quality fish; earlier this week, Nantucket High School student Tim Sullivan topped his PB with a nice 39-inch bass caught on fresh squid.

Tim Sullivan caught this 39-incher on fresh Nantucket squid earlier in the week.

It’s great to see some quality fish being landed in the Nantucket surf. If the squid stick around, striper fishing should continue to improve throughout the second half of the month.  The bass fishing back on Cape Cod has been a bit more challenging, even in the Cape Cod Canal. From the ditch, East End Eddie Doherty reports:

“Experienced surfcaster Bill Smith of Bourne caught some slots in the west end with his white pencil during some topwater action, and the positive effects of the new moon are starting to kick in for the better. Fishermen have been feeding soft plastics to the bluefish that moved in last Friday morning and decided to stay. True to form, the yellow-eyed devils have been biting the tails off of soft-plastic jigs just below the hook, like the Savage bounced along the bottom by South Grafton’s Ken LeBlanc. Ken, a member of the Worcester Surfcaster’s Club, replaced the tail only to have it bitten of again the next day! Expert angler Chuck Franks avoided that dilemma by casting his white Super Strike Bullet that was attacked by a bluefish during a surface bite toward the east end.”

I hit the beach with some of the guys from Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay this week to target some sharks in the surf. The action was slow but we brought a few smaller fish to shore.

Ian Lumsden and Tyler McKay of Red Top Sporting Goods pose with a fun-size brown shark that took an eel in the surf on the south side of Cape Cod.

When I spoke to Connor Swartz at Red Top, he said they’re getting better reports from customers of albies all over Vineyard Sound, but not quite in Buzzards Bay yet. Back at the Canal, there has been some decent action from schoolies on topwater in the West End during the morning hours this week, while the East End has been packed with blues. There are gators hitting topwater plugs in the east end while smaller, cocktail blues are cutting down soft-plastics for those trying to jig for stripers.

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne said they’ve had some really good fishing for stripers and blues over the past week, with bass to 42 inches and blues to 38 inches. They started their trip today (Thursday) by heading south for some quality sea bass, and they ended up hooking a near 8-foot brown shark on a BG 5500 spooled with 40-pound braided line after it took one of the sea bass from their charter. The jig was stuck on the outside of the sharks lip, and Captain Ross’ son and first mate, Captain JJ, kept the shark pinned until they got it to the boat and successfully retrieved the jig! Although they were on a bottom fishing charter, they had bluefin tuna jumping near the boat, feeding on bluefish while they put in work on sea bass and scup.

Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters on Martha’s Vineyard said that a few days of poor weather kept him off the water, but the half-day outings he’s been able to manage some decent sea bass and fluke at some spots close to home, although it has been challenging to build a bite due to the high fishing pressure that results from easy access. When they aren’t bottom fishing, the skipper has been chasing albies and bonito that have recently arrived in Vineyard Sound. He noted that it’s interesting to see the bonito arrive in numbers a little later than usual this year, while the albies are here a bit earlier than typically expected. While it has been a tougher week to get around in terms of the weather and sea conditions this week, Captain Kurt said one trip was a stand-out: “Carlos Caridad and his party had a great trip targeting fluke and sea bass. We kept 2 fluke to 22 inches and 8 sea bass to 21 inches, and released many smaller fish.” Sounds like a good day to be a bottom fisherman and a bad day to be a sea bass.

Liz Getz showing off a big fluke she caught aboard Fishsticks Charters.

Evan Eastman at Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth told me that he went out Monday morning for albies between Hedge Fence and Edgartown and had around 100+ albies swim beneath his boat, but they weren’t feeding, which is immensely frustrating. Evan noted that there is tons of bait scattered throughout the Sound; there were birds diving on schools of bait but the albies wouldn’t pop up on the surface, and when they are showing on top, they’re coming up in the late morning. There have also been albies holding tight to Nonamesset Island and some bonito in the rips off Nobska. When we got to talking stripers, Evan said there have been some nice bass caught in the west end of the Canal, with some over slot and a few fish in the slot. It’s clear that striper action has picked up in the past week, and Evan thinks it could be due in part to the cooler temperatures and overcast skies we’ve had. There was not much to report on the bottom fishing front unless you’re fishing 70- to 100-foot depths in Vineyard Sound, or targeting sea bass down by Nomans Land.

Morgan at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay said that fishing has been okay this week in Buzzards Bay. He got out for some fluke fishing over the last few days and had some decent action, with his uncle boating a few flatties over 22 inches. He is usually getting the keepers on natural bait, but recently, the bigger fluke are taking Gulp-tipped jigs. And while fluke are biting well down low, there’s plenty of topwater action to reciprocate. Morgan noticed large flocks of birds working over bait from the west end of the Canal out to Hog Island, where he got a few jumbo bluefish in the boat. There were also a lot of schoolie stripers with them with the larger fish measuring around 26 inches max. He said that despite the smaller size they were very healthy looking fish, and that they were clearly fattening up on spearing.

When I spoke to Christian at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis, he reported that there have been lots of people out there trying for hardtails in Nantucket Sound, but as far as the shop is aware, there haven’t been any albies or bonito caught from shore just yet. It’s only a matter of days at this point. Scup fishing is still really good with squid being the choice bait. There are some big bluefish around too, but most of them are too far from shore for a surf bite to materialize. There are, however, small cocktail blues blitzing in close, faking out the albie hunters with less-frothy feeds on the surface. And, interestingly enough, one of their customers recently caught a sea run brown trout earlier in the week while casting Deadly Dicks for striped bass.

Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reported that striped bass and bluefish are crushing topwater plugs like the white and orange Daddy Mac RD Bombs off of Provincetown. She said there is a good deal of bait around for the taking, but the bluefin tuna fishing hasn’t been as strong as it could be for mid-August, and that is likely due to the concentration of fish further south. Bluefin should push up the coast a bit in the coming weeks, but until then, striped bass and blues are compensating for the lack of tuna action.

Capitalizing on his ability to trailer his boat around Cape, Captain Cam Faria of Cambo Charters told me that the giant tuna fishing south of the Vineyard has been lights out. He runs both recreational and commercial trips, and with the recent presence of jumbo bluefin that are chowing down on squid and mackerel, he’s been running commercial trips. On his recent commercial outings, Cam caught and landed two bluefin that were 91 inches and 348 pounds, and 98 inches and 500 pounds. When he chased smaller tuna around the fleet on Saturday, he only got one hookup. Give him a call for more info on trips and availability.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Over the next week, expect more frequent and prolonged feeds from albies as they continue to file into the waters around Cape Cod. By the end of the month, they should be in Buzzards Bay where there are piles of rain bait waiting to be torn through. There haven’t been any reports of albies caught on shore just yet, but as they move closer to Cape day by day, that will soon change. Speaking of change, make sure you switch out your rusted hooks and re-up on epoxies and metal jigs if the conditions keep you docked or indoors. When the albies are in thick, there’s no time to be wasted.

The new moon was yesterday (Wednesday 8/16) and bass fishing in the Canal picked up steam with the extreme tides and currents pushing schools of bait in and out of both the east and west ends. The morning bite should be on at the Ditch for the next few days at least. Bluefish are everywhere, but they’re concentrated in the east end taking jigs and topwater plugs. If you want to catch some smaller blues, head down to the south side of Cape Cod and cast metals or small topwater plugs from the jetties and beaches. Cocktail blues are abundant.

Bottom fishing for fluke is best in northern/central Buzzards Bay and some of the shallower spots in western Vineyard Sound. Scup can still be found just about anywhere, but anglers interested in catching sea bass should head south toward Nomans or try their luck in 80-foot depths of Vineyard Sound for a chance at some keepers.

Offshore, the bluefin bite remains hot south of the Vineyard where rec. and commercial class fish are taking jigs and live baits from squid and mackerel to hickory shad and bluefish. There have been some quality yellowfin—or as the guys in our office have recently started calling them, “yellies”—in the mix too. Mahi schools are sticking around too, and have become a more viable backup option to tuna than they were in weeks past.

Wherever fishing finds you this week, be safe, respect the fish, respect each other and fish hard. Thanks for reading. Til next week.

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