Cape Cod Fishing Report- October 5, 2023

Albies hang around Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeths, rec. size bluefin bite in Cape Cod Bay and south of the Vineyard, and bigger bass reach the south side of Cape Cod.

Growing up, when I was asked “what’s your favorite season?”, autumn was the last one that came to mind. As a kid, I associated fall with nothing but being couped up in a classroom in increasingly cold weather. Today, fall is easily my favorite, and it’s because of the fishing. While wind and inclement weather can make getting on the water a challenge this time of year, it’s that challenge, and the grueling time between outings, that create pent up excitement for some stellar fishing opportunities. This week, I found myself on both ends of the spectrum; I battled the elements and succumbed to a skunk on the Canal, and later in the week, found a consistent striper bite using live eels on a completely vacant beach. It was my anxiety following the skunk that led me to the eel bite, because it forced me to take a step back and reconsider my approach in the surf. More on that later.

A fruitless early morning on the Canal last Saturday forced me to hunt down a breakfast sandwich instead of the bass I planned to catch. Last weekend, the East End was the spot to jig. But after losing several jigs and portions of leader to bluefish, and seeing only a few decent bass landed, my plans changed entirely. The rain was coming down harder, and the wind blowing steady, so I swapped my Canal rod for a dusty, ultralight Fenwick that hadn’t seen water since April (at least), and headed down to a recently stocked trout pond. The bite was slow, but after playing around with my retrieve speed and the running depth of my 1/4-ounce Kastmaster, that all changed. Like an albie jig, I skimmed the spoon across the surface with an occasional twitch or two so it danced like a fleeing baitfish. Before I knew it, there were big rainbow trout waking on my spoon and several came to hand. My lure, and the swipes it received from trout, were the only things disturbing the glassy surface of the kettle lake besides the dimpling from rain drops. As I waded along, a school of juvenile herring sought shelter around my ankles in less than 2-feet of water. Moments later, I watched them clash with a school of approximately 30 rainbows that had been chasing my spoon all the way in to my feet. With the real thing now in front of them, the ‘bows lost interest in my lure and I decided to head out, but not before my friend and co-worker, Zack Zeytoonjian, convinced me to keep a fat stocker for the table. I had never eaten rainbow trout, so I figured why not.

Check the mass.gov trout stocking report/map for stocking dates and species in your area.

On the way to Zack’s place where we planned to cook it up for lunch, we stopped at a pond to survey the white perch bite. There was plenty of surface action, but we only managed one fat 13-inch perch on a green Kalin’s marabou hair jig. That fish would join our trout for lunch.

The skunk continued during my next couple surf outings, and as that eager anxiety to find a bass bite built up, I decided I needed to change my approach. With a bucket of medium-size eels, I hit a jetty on the south side of Cape and began pitching them into the outgoing current. I let the eels drift out into deeper water and began hooking fish on nearly every cast in the same spot. Before I knew it, I had run through 7 of 12 eels, with one fugitive that managed to slither into the rocks below. The fish were not large, with the biggest measuring around 28 to 29 inches, but it was good to know they were there. I plan on going back to see what I can do with artificials.

Stripers were piled up in the rip at the end of the jetty, taking my eels on nearly every cast during the ebb tide.

While my fish were only in the mid to high 20-inch class, there have been some larger fish caught on the south side recently. The river mouths and salt ponds should be your starting points, with the search continuing up into the rivers and backwaters depending on the tide. There’s tons of bait in the water, and peanut bunker are growing bigger by the day, which will hopefully bring some even larger fish into Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds. Reports of bass in the 40-inch range are coming from the east, but the Outer Cape beaches remain rather quiet. We’ll see what the weekend has in store. While I don’t plan to do any trout fishing, more wind and rain might find me back in the sweetwater. Point being, there’s always something to fish for… always a reason to get off the couch and get on the water in some capacity. That’s the main reason I love autumn now.

Back on the subject of the Canal, there was another wave of over-slot bass pushing west through ditch this week, but the crowds vying for them might outnumber the fish. There’s a whole lot of people down there! The action has been primarily on jigs in both the east and west ends, but there are spotty feeds from smaller fish on top early in the morning.

Albies are still in the ditch too, but I can’t imagine they’re as much fun to catch on an 11-foot rod with 40-pound braid and a 10K spinning reel. The albies in the Canal are taking pencils and paddletails. To get a better idea of how I could have beat the skunk last weekend, I called Connor Swartz at Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay. He told me tog fishing in Buzzards Bay has really blown up this week, with lots of people coming in for crabs and jigs. One of the Red Top employees did well on a charter today with a 4- to 5-man crew out of New Bedford, and the boat nearly limited out with some quality keepers. When asked about stripers though, Connor said there were big bass–some pushing to 30 to 35 pounds— caught in the Canal this week. Today and yesterday, fish in the 30-inch class were far more common. The bigger bass, he said, are being caught on jigs.

Jay at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay also told me there has been some great tautog fishing in Buzzards Bay around rock piles in deeper water. Find yourself a boulder garden, chum with some green crab legs and get to working different parts of the structure. Jay also reported that there were some big bass in the Canal this week, as well as in the northern corners of Buzzards Bay and there are a bunch of bluefish with them, he added. Albies are still going in and out of the west end of the Canal, but they can be found throughout the ditch into Cape Cod Bay as far out as Provincetown. Keep a couple resin jigs rigged up on your way out of the harbors in Cape Cod Bay!

Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys in Bourne was also in CCB for much of this week, catching big over-slot stripers, gator blues and bluefin tuna. For 2 to 3 days earlier this week, their charters were wacking albies on jigs in Vineyard Sound, and today, the skipper saw schools of albies breaking in the east end of the Canal on their way in. They’ve taken several tuna charters into Cape Cod Bay this week to hunt for bigger rec. class tuna on spin gear. While tuna fishing, they caught a 10-foot blue shark and had a great white around double its size come up to investigate when they got the blue shark boat side. They broke off a couple of giants earlier in the week on spin gear, but marked some big fish in the bay again today. It was a slow start but they eventually found some whales and a massive NatGeo-level feed which yielded them some smaller, rec. sized bluefin on almost every drop until they called it quits.

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis said fishing’s been great this week after the blow. Close to home, the harbors and bays are loaded with peanuts, with cocktail and gator bluefish beneath them most of the time. Amy said there have also been plenty of schoolie and slot-size bass with them too. She pointed out that albies still kicking around in scattered schools in Nantucket Sound, and some people are still catching them from shore along with bonito! To the east, Amy said Monomoy has been fishing well for bass. And on the Cape Cod Bay side, there are still tons of peanuts in the harbors, mirroring the baitfish buffet on the south side. This week they’ve sold lots of green crabs, hearing that most tautog fishermen are finding success in Buzzards Bay, but they were getting mixed reports. Much of the better tog fishing they’ve heard of is down around New Bedford this week, and it should improve over the next week or so in the rest of the bay.

From the Outer Cape and Cape Cod Bay, Captain Elena Rice of Reel Deal Fishing Charters in Truro reported that the heavier winds have kept them closer to land more often than not recently. However, that meant it was time to take advantage of some family fun time and head out tautog fishing! Beckett Rice picked up a nice keeper tautog with plenty more to go around as they made the best of a fairly windy day that kept Reel Deal boats off the tuna grounds. Elena said the fishing for stripers and blues also continues to provide great opportunities when they aren’t tuna fishing. And while the full moon and inclement weather did put a slight damper on the tuna bite, they’re eagerly awaiting the next weather window to get out and battle some bluefin tuna. The skipper said they have availability for striped bass or bluefin tuna fishing starting Tuesday, October 10th, so give them a call.

Captain Cam Faria of Cambo Charters reported some great tuna fishing south of the Vineyard this week. He headed out at 4 a.m. today, stuck a bunch of bluefin, and made it back to the dock by 10 a.m. to make it to his class by noon. Cam said they were catching mostly small, barely-keeper size bluefin around 27 inches, and some in the 50-inch class, on spin gear. The skipper said the fish were surprisingly finicky, noting that they wouldn’t touch even a dead-sticked RonZ. If it wasn’t a small, slender metal jig being torn through the water column, they weren’t touching it. Later in the morning though, he noticed that a lot of boats were getting them on chunks as well, but he was pressed for time so they stuck to jigging, and it paid off.

From Martha’s Vineyard, Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters reported that he was able to get a few trips in this week when the wind let up. I asked him if he’s made any time for tautog yet, and while he hasn’t gone out of his way to target them, the skipper said they’ve caught a few by accident, including one near-keeper on a diamond jig. Late last week, one of his charters caught their first-ever albie; they’ve become surprisingly more scarce in the past week or so after heavy northeast winds and rains. On Wednesday, his charter of Ben and Marta Levin had a solid mixed-bag day on the water, including a bonito, an over-slot striper, a mess of bluefish, some sea bass (which were tossed back) and a side of scup.

Ben Levin with a healthy over-slot striper caught aboard Fishsticks Charters on Wednesday.

From Nantucket, Rick Ramos reports on the Nantucket Inshore Classic, which is in its final week:

“There have been many solid fish caught and we’ve seen a nice jump in numbers of over-slot-size striped bass.  Noteworthy tournament striped bass catches this week include Kris Perez’s 38.5-inch fish in the fly boat division, Michael Howard’s 29 incher on the fly from the beach, Gail Bogel’s 36-inch boat bass and Bill Tornovish with a 35.75-inch beach bass. We also have close competitions in the overall divisions, with the most exciting race taking place in the Junior Beach Division. Natalie O’Brien has jumped to the overall lead this week with a 28.5-inch albie, giving her a total inch score of 58.25 inches.  Natalie is closely followed by Isla Grimes and Fisher Sullivan with 45.75-inches and 44.25-inches, respectively. The Classic ends on Saturday, October 7th so there’s plenty of casting time left with some great fishing conditions here on Nantucket. Click here for the latest leader board.

Natalie O’Brien currently leads the Junior Beach Division after landing this 28.5-inch albie.

Speaking on the Grey Lady’s surf fishing scene, Rick said:

“I had the opportunity to connect with Nantucket native and Atlantic Fisheries Policy Director at American Sportfishing Association, Mike Waine, after his surfcasting trip to Nantucket last week.  Mike hosted Kevin Blinkoff and Adam Eldridge and orchestrated an impressive outing, with both Mike and Kevin completing Nantucket Slams beaching all four species – bass, bluefish, albie and bonito.  Mike was thankful to recognize a local angler, Greg Chotkowski, for his impressive knowledge, as Greg guided them to Smith’s Point to catch an incoming tide for a session of bucktailing for bass.  Mike stated that Greg generously set them up with 4-ounce backtails—because Mike said ‘Rick, who the heck carries 4-ounce bucktails!?’—and put them on the exact spot to work the rip.  Both Mike and Kevin connected with nice slot bass to complete their slams! Working these rips with 3- to 4-ounce bucktails continues to produce daytime bass. In fact, both Greg and I worked these rips together over the past few days and produced several over slot fish.”

Out at Great Point, bigger blues have moved in, with several reports of 30- to 34-inch gators being caught.  We have also seen the arrival of large schools of bunker, which is a sign that the fall migration is underway.  Albies and bonito continue to show in good numbers at Great Point and even on the south shore.  Fish are being caught in close and fly fishermen are joining the fun, with Willam Davidson catching a 23.5-inch beach bonito and David Slick landing a 29-inch beach albie. Also from the fly, Pat McEvoy caught a Northern sennet in Nantucket Harbor! Conditions remain great and we are hoping the bite continues through the weekend.”

Pat McEvoy caught this Northern sennet on a clouser minnow fly in Nantucket Harbor this week.

And to report on the inshore boat fishing scene, Rick Ramos connected with Captain Corey Gammill of Bill Fisher Outfitters. Corey reported that bass fishing has improved with greater numbers being caught around the island. Corey was on a large school of bass blitzing on bunker at Great Point, and shared that the eastern and western edges of the island are holding more bass.  Corey caught a really nice bass on the south shore “in the middle of nowhere”, which is a clear sign that larger fish are pushing through Nantucket waters on their migration south.  There are still plenty of albies around the island.  Corey has reported the rise in bait with large schools of sand eels, bunker, peanut bunker and herring all in our local waters.  Lots of blues are being caught on the south shore, but bigger blues and bass are being caught on the eastern edges, from the 6 can area to Rose & Crown.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

Another weekend, another couple days of snotty weather. With high winds and rain in the forecast yet again, it’s certainly worth a trip or two in the surf; however, there will likely be small craft advisories. The best bet for the weekend will be to target stripers and blues (and maybe some albies and bonito) from the beach, or in the sheltered rivers and harbors.

If you can find some water in Buzzards Bay to tuck away from the wind, there could be some solid fishing for tautog around the rocky portions of shoreline. Ditto for albies.

Worst case scenario, you can run down to a local trout pond, catch a few stockers and try something new for lunch.

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