New England Fishing Roundup: 7.25.14

Our look at the local fishing scene, from Maine to Connecticut.

New England Fishing Roundup 06.27.14

By Zach Harvey

Our weekly look at the local fishing scene from Maine to Connecticut.

Maine

Word from Maine has it that stripers in the slot-size range are feeding well in the Casco Bay area. There is good sight-fishing to be had on the mud flats, and some nice fish are being taken on live macks and chunks around deeper structure and points.

The Saco River has also been hot as of late. This from Saco Bay Tackle: “Trolling tube-and-worms and throwing topwater poppers in the morning and outgoing tide has been on fire! A couple of guides told me that outside on the islands have been producing stripers of all sizes on live and dead-drifted mackerel. SP Minnows are still working near the rocks in Biddeford Pool. White Slug Go’s are working where you see birds working the water.”

 Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody of First Light Anglers noted there’s been fairly dependable early-morning surface activity with schoolie bass, most in the 16” to 25” range, in Plum Island Sound and on the Beverly-Salem Harbor side. Folks putting in the time after dark in search of bigger bass continue to connect often enough to keep their heads in the game. Drifting or live-lining mackerel or live eels in 10’ to 15’ along the front side of Plum Island has turned up some quality fish into the 40”-plus range; others have been working the 100’ to 150’ depths from Rockport down to the outside of Gloucester Harbor, managing to get their bass without much recent interference from the dogs.

Cod fishing is still reasonably productive out in the deeper water east of Stellwagen, as well as up in the vicinity of the Curl on Jeffreys, where patient jiggers are culling through abundant shorts to get fair numbers of keepers and occasional better fish.

The tuna activity has picked up nicely over the last week or so—both giants and larger school-sized fish. The former have been hit or miss in terms of locations, with scattered hook-ups on fish from 85” to 110”, mainly live-lining so far, in a range of areas including Peaked Hill off the backside of the Cape, Stellwagen’s SW Corner, and also up on northern Jeffreys at the Fingers and the Curl, among other areas.

On the school tuna side, there’s been a recent influx of fish in the 65” to 70” range anywhere from the Shipping Lanes off P-Town northward to about Murray Basin.

The live-bait supply—mackerel for the most part—has become a bit challenging with the recent arrival of bluefish in big numbers from Marblehead down to Boston Harbor; the macks have been more predictable from roughly Ipswich Bay up to the Isle of Shoals.

 Massachusetts-South Shore

Belsan’s Bait noted that the mackerel have gotten pretty spotty thanks to all the bluefish activity over the last couple weeks. Determined stripermen live-lining or weighting and deep-trolling on the 50’ to 80’ spots off Minots and the Cliffs have continued to stick occasional fish as large as the 40-pound class, while most of the local harbors and tidal rivers are holding numbers of schoolie bass.

The groundskeeper codfish are still hanging on hard real estate 6 to 8 miles east of Scituate, where at least one shop patron has found his limit over the last week.

There are blues 3 to 4 miles outside; speaking of, one guy checked in with a scary-looking 20-pound slammer he landed near the 21 Buoy outside the harbor.

Flounder fishing is pretty well shot, though folks are still scratching occasional keepers on ground less travelled. Tuna fishing is still on the quiet/inconsistent side.

 Masschusettts—Cape Cod

Mike at Red Top noted the East End still seems to be the place for better bass, but added the average size has come down a good bit since a big slug of true heavyweights blew town about 3 weeks ago. Mackerel are still the method of choice, though bait acquisition is becoming somewhat more time- and labor-intensive of late.

P-Town’s striper action is still pretty quiet, but the action with bigger fish in the cold water off Chatham has picked up quite a bit over the last 7 days; the latter development has not been lost on the local commercial fleet, which has been so thick at times that vertical jigging has been about the only viable technique.

Fluke fishing is fair in Buzzards Bay and out off Nantucket’s east side, but the black sea bass fishery has backed off quite a bit.

Paul at Blackbeard’s reported a huge amount of enforcement activity over the last week, most conspicuously on the commercial bass days, along the 3-mile EEZ line south of Chatham, where the Coast Guard and Mass EPO have been issuing countless tickets and confiscating boats/trailers from folks with bass over the line. Despite all the shock-and-awe tactics, a steady stream of pinhookers are continuing to plow outside—their persistence a pretty telling consequence of the fact that the numbers of larger, commercially saleable fish are stacking up in rips beyond state waters. Prices are through the roof—$4 a pound or more—putting a high bounty on large stripers as the storm clouds continue to gather on the long-range horizon.

There are smaller bass—schoolies and occasional keepers—for the light-tackle gang working the Monomoy Rips. The Race off P-Town has been hot-and-cold with some better fish taking trolled umbrellas or vertical jigs—but not every day. The north side of Billingsgate in the Bay is still rotten with schoolies and some keepers, and there have been intermittent shots at bluefish in the 8- to 10-pound range at Sunken Meadow among other places.

Fluking is decent off Falmouth, and the snapper blues are starting to fill in around most of the harbors.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & SouthCoast

The big news from Coop’s Bait and Tackle on the Vineyard was the arrival of scattered bonito all around the island this week—a slow trickle of them in places like the Hooter and off Edgartown, and even some on the North Shore. Coop believes there’s enough of the right bait to get that fishery in gear in the coming weeks.

After a lull last week, bluefishing has returned in a big way, with an occasional shell-shocked striper in the mix, notably at Hawes Shoal and off Wasque. These blues are substantial choppers from 8 pounds up, and they’re responding to a wide array of usual methods.

Fluking is pretty decent in the usual haunts like Lucas Shoal, Tom Shoal and Middle Ground, while sea bass are stacked just about everywhere around the island.

There have been scattered 100-pound bluefins and a few giants down off the Regal Sword, and scattered smaller schoolies with a white marlin or two off the backside of the Vineyard in the vicinity of the Owl and Gordon’s Gully.

The yellowfin activity petered out at Atlantis with the exception of some small fish; guys with weekend canyon ambitions are looking eastward toward decent-looking water near Hydro and a bit farther off at Welker.

Rhode Island

Matt at Snug Harbor reported a big surge after a brief lull in the monster bass bonanza off the SW Corner at Block Island; though no real behemoths hit the scales this last week, folks have been finding a steady supply of thick-shouldered 35- to 45-pounders, mostly on live eels, day or night.

Blues have been hot and cold, tearing up the eels some days and making themselves scarce on others. The bluefish epicenter as of press time has been the SE corner of the Block.

Fluke catches have improved a few notches after a major dry spell, both off the Island and along the south shore; the bite has been strong, with some big slabs taken, but it has been streaky; when it slows, it’s all over until the next tide or window of prime drift conditions. With the onset of the recent NE wind, a few slab specialists decided to run east for some prospecting out in the deeper, tougher real estate off Newport’s oceanfront all the way to the mouth of the Sakonnet. Unfortunately, with a few minor exceptions, what they found was milky, nearly opaque green water and just about nil in the way of cooperative summer flatties.

Black sea bass, per this season’s trend, are big, plentiful, and seemingly everywhere, and the cod fishing is in its full high-summer swing on the hard pieces in 90’ to 110’ off the SE corner of Coxes; dogfish have been tolerable in that area, and the cod fishing has been good enough to warrant the fuel and effort.

Tuna—schoolies from roughly 35” to 42”—have been popping up at regular intervals south and east of the Gully, around the former site of the Fairway Buoy (which has gone missing), and even out on Southwest Ledge proper. Farther afield, from a bit east of Coxes all the way to Gordon’s Gully and other south-of-the-Vineyard areas, big-game enthusiasts have managed to turn up some small school bluefins, as well as marlin, some quality mahis, and green bonito by trolling a wide array of smallish high-speed lures. Yellowfins in the 20-to 30-pound range have been on a troll bite from south of the Horns down into the Shipping Lanes/500 Squared area.

Meanwhile, surf guys have been taking some solid bass in the nighttime suds over at Block, according to Block Island Fishworks. Late last week saw a few 50s hauled ashore from SE Light up toward Old Harbor Point. The west side, specifically Gracies Cove/Gracies Point, and the NE side (places like Pots and Kettles) have been turning out semi-reliable stripers into the teens and some blues for guys slinging needlefish and other sand eel dupes. Fluke and sea bass have been steady at various spots along the south and west sides, and there are some Jurassic scup on the shallow rock piles off the SE side.

 Connecticut—East

“Q” of River’s End was not raving about the striped bass fishing in his area. With the exception of the guys taking the time to round up live bunker, most known striper haunts have been somewhere between stingy and dead in the bass-production department. As noted, the bunker boys have been prying a slow pick of bass from the teens to high 20s fishing early mornings and the deep nights at Hatchetts, Bartletts, Long Sand Shoal, Cornfield Point, and other reefs and rock piles.

Some big blues are keeping chunkers busy around the mouth of the Connecticut River, and the snappers are growing like weeds, adding another classic summer option to the list of day-off possibilities.

Speaking of, the local fluke specialists have found new hope with the arrival of the snapper blues, which are one of the top baits for better slabs during the picked-over months in the eastern Sound.

Sea bass are a continued bright spot, with some sizeable humpheads in residence on most of the deeper humps, bumps, wrecks, and rock piles.

 Connecticut—West

Capt. Ian at Fisherman’s World was uncharacteristically quiet when I called the shop Thursday afternoon. He noted that a few shop regulars have been finding quality fluke off Buoy 26, Copps Island and along the backside of the Norwalk Islands.

The Bluefish Pit, a hole about a mile north of 28C, has been turning out bigger blues and the odd bass to chunkers or diamond jiggers. Ditto for 11B, though the latter area has been somewhat less consistent.

The local reefs are holding blues, occasional bass, fluke and sea bass for chunkers or bucktailers. Snapper blues are growing fast and piling up in the local harbors. While these mini-blues are still on the small side, you can catch them on tiny spoons or sabiki rigs.

Blue crabs are running pretty strong in the backwaters.

Our look at the local fishing scene, from Maine to Connecticut.

New England Fishing Roundup 06.27.14

By Zach Harvey

Our weekly look at the local fishing scene from Maine to Connecticut.

Maine

Word from Maine has it that stripers in the slot-size range are feeding well in the Casco Bay area. There is good sight-fishing to be had on the mud flats, and some nice fish are being taken on live macks and chunks around deeper structure and points.

The Saco River has also been hot as of late. This from Saco Bay Tackle: “Trolling tube-and-worms and throwing topwater poppers in the morning and outgoing tide has been on fire! A couple of guides told me that outside on the islands have been producing stripers of all sizes on live and dead-drifted mackerel. SP Minnows are still working near the rocks in Biddeford Pool. White Slug Go’s are working where you see birds working the water.”

 Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody of First Light Anglers noted there’s been fairly dependable early-morning surface activity with schoolie bass, most in the 16” to 25” range, in Plum Island Sound and on the Beverly-Salem Harbor side. Folks putting in the time after dark in search of bigger bass continue to connect often enough to keep their heads in the game. Drifting or live-lining mackerel or live eels in 10’ to 15’ along the front side of Plum Island has turned up some quality fish into the 40”-plus range; others have been working the 100’ to 150’ depths from Rockport down to the outside of Gloucester Harbor, managing to get their bass without much recent interference from the dogs.

Cod fishing is still reasonably productive out in the deeper water east of Stellwagen, as well as up in the vicinity of the Curl on Jeffreys, where patient jiggers are culling through abundant shorts to get fair numbers of keepers and occasional better fish.

The tuna activity has picked up nicely over the last week or so—both giants and larger school-sized fish. The former have been hit or miss in terms of locations, with scattered hook-ups on fish from 85” to 110”, mainly live-lining so far, in a range of areas including Peaked Hill off the backside of the Cape, Stellwagen’s SW Corner, and also up on northern Jeffreys at the Fingers and the Curl, among other areas.

On the school tuna side, there’s been a recent influx of fish in the 65” to 70” range anywhere from the Shipping Lanes off P-Town northward to about Murray Basin.

The live-bait supply—mackerel for the most part—has become a bit challenging with the recent arrival of bluefish in big numbers from Marblehead down to Boston Harbor; the macks have been more predictable from roughly Ipswich Bay up to the Isle of Shoals.

 Massachusetts-South Shore

Belsan’s Bait noted that the mackerel have gotten pretty spotty thanks to all the bluefish activity over the last couple weeks. Determined stripermen live-lining or weighting and deep-trolling on the 50’ to 80’ spots off Minots and the Cliffs have continued to stick occasional fish as large as the 40-pound class, while most of the local harbors and tidal rivers are holding numbers of schoolie bass.

The groundskeeper codfish are still hanging on hard real estate 6 to 8 miles east of Scituate, where at least one shop patron has found his limit over the last week.

There are blues 3 to 4 miles outside; speaking of, one guy checked in with a scary-looking 20-pound slammer he landed near the 21 Buoy outside the harbor.

Flounder fishing is pretty well shot, though folks are still scratching occasional keepers on ground less travelled. Tuna fishing is still on the quiet/inconsistent side.

 Masschusettts—Cape Cod

Mike at Red Top noted the East End still seems to be the place for better bass, but added the average size has come down a good bit since a big slug of true heavyweights blew town about 3 weeks ago. Mackerel are still the method of choice, though bait acquisition is becoming somewhat more time- and labor-intensive of late.

P-Town’s striper action is still pretty quiet, but the action with bigger fish in the cold water off Chatham has picked up quite a bit over the last 7 days; the latter development has not been lost on the local commercial fleet, which has been so thick at times that vertical jigging has been about the only viable technique.

Fluke fishing is fair in Buzzards Bay and out off Nantucket’s east side, but the black sea bass fishery has backed off quite a bit.

Paul at Blackbeard’s reported a huge amount of enforcement activity over the last week, most conspicuously on the commercial bass days, along the 3-mile EEZ line south of Chatham, where the Coast Guard and Mass EPO have been issuing countless tickets and confiscating boats/trailers from folks with bass over the line. Despite all the shock-and-awe tactics, a steady stream of pinhookers are continuing to plow outside—their persistence a pretty telling consequence of the fact that the numbers of larger, commercially saleable fish are stacking up in rips beyond state waters. Prices are through the roof—$4 a pound or more—putting a high bounty on large stripers as the storm clouds continue to gather on the long-range horizon.

There are smaller bass—schoolies and occasional keepers—for the light-tackle gang working the Monomoy Rips. The Race off P-Town has been hot-and-cold with some better fish taking trolled umbrellas or vertical jigs—but not every day. The north side of Billingsgate in the Bay is still rotten with schoolies and some keepers, and there have been intermittent shots at bluefish in the 8- to 10-pound range at Sunken Meadow among other places.

Fluking is decent off Falmouth, and the snapper blues are starting to fill in around most of the harbors.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & SouthCoast

The big news from Coop’s Bait and Tackle on the Vineyard was the arrival of scattered bonito all around the island this week—a slow trickle of them in places like the Hooter and off Edgartown, and even some on the North Shore. Coop believes there’s enough of the right bait to get that fishery in gear in the coming weeks.

After a lull last week, bluefishing has returned in a big way, with an occasional shell-shocked striper in the mix, notably at Hawes Shoal and off Wasque. These blues are substantial choppers from 8 pounds up, and they’re responding to a wide array of usual methods.

Fluking is pretty decent in the usual haunts like Lucas Shoal, Tom Shoal and Middle Ground, while sea bass are stacked just about everywhere around the island.

There have been scattered 100-pound bluefins and a few giants down off the Regal Sword, and scattered smaller schoolies with a white marlin or two off the backside of the Vineyard in the vicinity of the Owl and Gordon’s Gully.

The yellowfin activity petered out at Atlantis with the exception of some small fish; guys with weekend canyon ambitions are looking eastward toward decent-looking water near Hydro and a bit farther off at Welker.

Rhode Island

Matt at Snug Harbor reported a big surge after a brief lull in the monster bass bonanza off the SW Corner at Block Island; though no real behemoths hit the scales this last week, folks have been finding a steady supply of thick-shouldered 35- to 45-pounders, mostly on live eels, day or night.

Blues have been hot and cold, tearing up the eels some days and making themselves scarce on others. The bluefish epicenter as of press time has been the SE corner of the Block.

Fluke catches have improved a few notches after a major dry spell, both off the Island and along the south shore; the bite has been strong, with some big slabs taken, but it has been streaky; when it slows, it’s all over until the next tide or window of prime drift conditions. With the onset of the recent NE wind, a few slab specialists decided to run east for some prospecting out in the deeper, tougher real estate off Newport’s oceanfront all the way to the mouth of the Sakonnet. Unfortunately, with a few minor exceptions, what they found was milky, nearly opaque green water and just about nil in the way of cooperative summer flatties.

Black sea bass, per this season’s trend, are big, plentiful, and seemingly everywhere, and the cod fishing is in its full high-summer swing on the hard pieces in 90’ to 110’ off the SE corner of Coxes; dogfish have been tolerable in that area, and the cod fishing has been good enough to warrant the fuel and effort.

Tuna—schoolies from roughly 35” to 42”—have been popping up at regular intervals south and east of the Gully, around the former site of the Fairway Buoy (which has gone missing), and even out on Southwest Ledge proper. Farther afield, from a bit east of Coxes all the way to Gordon’s Gully and other south-of-the-Vineyard areas, big-game enthusiasts have managed to turn up some small school bluefins, as well as marlin, some quality mahis, and green bonito by trolling a wide array of smallish high-speed lures. Yellowfins in the 20-to 30-pound range have been on a troll bite from south of the Horns down into the Shipping Lanes/500 Squared area.

Meanwhile, surf guys have been taking some solid bass in the nighttime suds over at Block, according to Block Island Fishworks. Late last week saw a few 50s hauled ashore from SE Light up toward Old Harbor Point. The west side, specifically Gracies Cove/Gracies Point, and the NE side (places like Pots and Kettles) have been turning out semi-reliable stripers into the teens and some blues for guys slinging needlefish and other sand eel dupes. Fluke and sea bass have been steady at various spots along the south and west sides, and there are some Jurassic scup on the shallow rock piles off the SE side.

 Connecticut—East

“Q” of River’s End was not raving about the striped bass fishing in his area. With the exception of the guys taking the time to round up live bunker, most known striper haunts have been somewhere between stingy and dead in the bass-production department. As noted, the bunker boys have been prying a slow pick of bass from the teens to high 20s fishing early mornings and the deep nights at Hatchetts, Bartletts, Long Sand Shoal, Cornfield Point, and other reefs and rock piles.

Some big blues are keeping chunkers busy around the mouth of the Connecticut River, and the snappers are growing like weeds, adding another classic summer option to the list of day-off possibilities.

Speaking of, the local fluke specialists have found new hope with the arrival of the snapper blues, which are one of the top baits for better slabs during the picked-over months in the eastern Sound.

Sea bass are a continued bright spot, with some sizeable humpheads in residence on most of the deeper humps, bumps, wrecks, and rock piles.

 Connecticut—West

Capt. Ian at Fisherman’s World was uncharacteristically quiet when I called the shop Thursday afternoon. He noted that a few shop regulars have been finding quality fluke off Buoy 26, Copps Island and along the backside of the Norwalk Islands.

The Bluefish Pit, a hole about a mile north of 28C, has been turning out bigger blues and the odd bass to chunkers or diamond jiggers. Ditto for 11B, though the latter area has been somewhat less consistent.

The local reefs are holding blues, occasional bass, fluke and sea bass for chunkers or bucktailers. Snapper blues are growing fast and piling up in the local harbors. While these mini-blues are still on the small side, you can catch them on tiny spoons or sabiki rigs.

Blue crabs are running pretty strong in the backwaters.