New England Fishing Roundup: 8.22.14

New England Boating Fishing Roundup for August 22, 2014.

Our weekly roundup of the local fishing scene, from Maine to Connecticut.

Maine

Striper fishing in Maine’s Boothbay Harbor area continues to be a bit inconsistent, but still decent overall, according to Capt. Barry Gibson. “The slug of fresh water in the Kennebec River caused by the storm back on August 13 has finally dissipated, and anglers are again finding school-size bass in their usual haunts from Bath on down to the mouth,” Gibson says. “The beaches west of the Kennebec are giving ups some nice bass up to 44″, although numbers are generally down from where they should be, likely due to shoals of juvenile herring almost everywhere that the stripers are keying in on. Offshore, Plattes Bank is producing cod, pollock, cusk, and loads of haddock that are just under the legal size of 21”. Shark fishing, primarily for blue sharks, has been good on The Kettle and Sagadahoc Ledges, but tuna fishing has been slow, with just a handful of giants taken during the past week.

Saco Bay Tackle reports that Keith Jordan and the crew of the Bailey and Bella took first place in the tuna division in last week’s Casco Bay Classic with a 795-pound bluefin. Todd Jackson and the crew of the Fired Up also recorded a first in the shark division with a 450-pound thresher (a potential state record) in last week’s Casco Bay Classic tourney. Both tuna and shark fishing remain steady, according to the Saco Bay Tackle website.

The river mouths in Casco Bay are producing some decent fish on fly and light tackle.
The river mouths in Casco Bay are producing some decent fish on fly and light tackle.

Inshore, both schoolies and trophy stripers are still in evidence. The key, according to the shop, is to be flexible and try different spots. Pine Point, the Bathhouse, the end of Biddeford Pool, Goosefare Brook (on the coming tide) and Old Orchard have been productive. Chunked macs, worms and clams are the baits of choice. Anglers can also find action in the lower portion of the rivers and estuaries. Fly fishermen report better catches of late (fish the coming tide) using mackerel patterns, red/white and red/yellow Clousers and black Deceivers at night. Mackerel are readily available in their usual spots, along with harbor pollock.

Saco Bay also reports that anglers can still find stripers around the ledges, flats, islands and the lower portions of the rivers in and around Casco Bay. The mouths of the rivers (Presumpscot, Royal, Harraseeket, New Meadows, etc.) are best fished on a dropping tide, while fishing along the ledges is often more productive during a coming tide. Clams and seaworms have been productive, while top lures include the Daiwa SP and DS Minnows, Yo-Zuri Pin’s Magnet, Hydro Pencils, Hydro Poppers and Rebel Jumpin’ Minnows. Blue or olive 1/0 and 2/0 Deceivers (day) and red or black Deceivers (night) have been doing the trick for fly anglers.

Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers in Rowley, MA, said the striped bass fishing—both schoolies and shots of bigger fish—bounced back nicely over the last week in several areas between Boston Harbor and roughly Plum Island. Specifically, there have been regular surface feeds out in front of Cranes, often with little fish gorging on 4” to 5” sand eels or jumbo silversides. When that activity dwindles, larger fish have moved right in—often within minutes. There have been larger bass—36” to about 43”—crashing through mackerel off Nahant in the vicinity of Egg Rock. Smaller fish in that area have been chasing juvenile herring. There are still plenty of pogies in Boston Harbor.

Bonito are scattered but available in certain spots
Bonito are scattered but available in certain spots.

With the September 1 cod closure looming, and millions of shorts crawling all over Jeffreys, most of the dedicated bottom fishermen have started looking for haddock to work on after cod land on the off-limits list. There have been decent numbers of quality haddock on Tillies Bank and in the deeper soft-bottom areas off the east side of Stellwagen.

Tuna fishing remains steadily slow, with a fish here and a fish there for the folks putting in the requisite hours—and mighty slim pickings for the instant-gratification crowd. “If you hit one area for 3 consecutive days and go through the right motions—Jeffreys, Stellwagen’s NW or SW Corners, Ipswich Bay, Platts, Peaked Hill, etc.—you have a good chance of getting a fish,” noted Moody. “But there’s no one place that seems to have any number of fish feeding on a dependable pattern.” What fish have been coming in have been huge—100” on up—but there have been no school-sized fish around to speak of.

Cape Cod

Blackbeard’s said the fast and furious live-eeling bass bite off P-Town cooled right off the past few days after coughing up numbers of big fish through the first part of the week. Chatham, meanwhile, has come together nicely, with good fish—bass from 20 to 40 pounds—piling up off Monomoy and Handkerchief Shoal, among other places. Not surprisingly, given the dearth of larger fish elsewhere, these fish off Chatham are seeing a pretty serious amount of fishing pressure.

There have been some big blues, from roughly 8 to 14 pounds, cooperating off Eastham and Wellfleet, providing some excitement in a season that has seen precious few concentrations of choppers until now. One charter captain reported a sizeable bonito caught by trolling in the Bay, the first one that skipper has caught in almost 40 years in the racket.

Small bass are available around rocky shorelines in Buzzards Bay
Small bass are available around rocky shorelines in Buzzards Bay.

 

Fluke reports have been inconsistent, with quite a few shorts to cull through between keepers off Falmouth and in Vineyard Sound.

There have been some giant sightings along the outer beaches, but actual reports on the tuna catching front have been sparse at best.

Red Top said the bass activity in the Canal dropped off quite a bit over the last week, with swimming plugs or eels taking the place of the topwaters that were doing most of the catching a week ago.

The word is that fluke fishing has been tough going in Buzzards Bay and in Vineyard Sound. There have been scup and tautog chewing at intervals around the Maritime Academy.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & Buzzards Bay

Coop’s Bait and Tackle said the bonito activity has been notably inconsistent off the Vineyard in many of the usual August haunts—a fish here and a fish there despite all kinds of bait around. There are tons of small sand eels and 6-pound blues at the Hooter, plus the occasional bonito. Trolled swimming plugs are the ticket. Another decent bonito bet over the last week or so has been the Bonito Bar off Nantucket, but the action has not been gangbusters.

No word on albies just yet, and the striper fishing has been mighty slow. Bluefish have been a sorely needed bright spot, with reliable numbers of medium to jumbo choppers taking bait and plugs off South Beach and East Beach in Chappy, as well as the Wasque Rips and the Hooter.

The fluke fishing is slow and scattered, but the black sea bass are big and generally cooperative just about anywhere off Edgartown and on the lesser-known hangs and hard pieces along the North Shore. The recent northeast wind put a big damper on the school bluefin action that had been good around Gordons Gully and other spots not far off the backside of the Island; all hands are wondering when and where those fish will pop up again.

In Buzzards Bay, things are very quiet except for scattered blitzes of small blues off West Falmouth. However, the large amount of bait in certain areas has albie fishermen getting hopeful. Still no confirmed sign of these fish, but we are moving into prime albie time.

Small stripers are available on topwater plugs and soft-plastics around some of the well-known rocky spots in the Upper Bay, especially in the evening and early morning on a rising tide.

Rhode Island

Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown noted that a handful of his more dedicated bass guys have continued to take heavyweight fish, mainly swimming live pogies off the SW corner of Block Island. Indeed, one of his regulars has reported multiple 50-plus-pound fish over the last week.

There are scup for the taking from Rhode Island throuh Long Island Sound
There are scup for the taking from Rhode Island through Long Island Sound.

Closer to home, even the sharpest of the sharpies have been grumbling about the summer slump, picking a bass here and a bass there but nothing too consistent; more than one of Sam’s sources has reported marking fish that just won’t eat on the reefs off Ocean Drive.

The fluke seem to be draining out of the Bay at an alarming rate, piling up on the deeper ground well south—3 or 4 miles south—in places no one usually looks for them. Sam believes this could be one of those years that the slabs—among other species—skip town way early. Not surprisingly, there are tons of black sea bass scattered all over the place, and it will be nice (to say the absolute least) when we’re finally allowed to keep a whole 7 of the superabundant cellar-dwellers when the bag limit jumps in a week or so.

Barring rumors and phantom sightings, the bonito have yet to show up near Newport, and the canyon tuna fishing has not been exactly spectacular.

Matt at Snug Harbor said there have been a few bigeye encounters down around the edge at Atlantis Canyon over the last 5 days. Back on Sunday—the last real weather window—the crew of the Big Game had a pair of nice eyeballs that scaled 240 and 160 pounds on the troll, along with a sprinkling of yellows and longfins. Another local tuna sharpie, out on a Montauk vessel trolling that same rough zone early Thursday, reported taking a big eyeball well north of 200 and numbers of other fish, mainly smaller yellows and a few longfins. Other guys have found yellowfins averaging somewhere between 25 and 40 pounds, with the occasional stray 70-pounder, plus mahis, numbers of wahoo, and other fast-swimming mystery meat trolling down in the Shipping Lanes, then small bluefin tuna on the homeward troll in the vicinity of the Dump.

Most of the usual 30-fathom spots—the Suffolk, the Gully and the Mud Hole, among others—have been turning out an encouraging number of small makos, big blue dogs and the occasional thresher. Speaking of the Mud Hole, Matt has been packing splices and topshots on 80s and 130s at a fever pace over the last week, a sure sign the giant fleet is keeping a sharp eye on developments in that occasional late-summer bluefin hotbed.

Inshore, the bass fishing at Block Island has been markedly better during the daytime than after sundown over the last week—and the fishery has definitely dropped off a bit from where it was a couple weeks ago. There are bluefish just about everywhere, both along the beach and over at the Island, but the bonito have been elusive, barring one brief appearance well outside the mouth of the Narrow River in Narragansett earlier in the week.

There are still fluke on a solid bite out in the deep water off the east side of Block, as far east as the East Grounds, and the sea bass are still big and plentiful.

The bottom fishing along the South County beaches has been terrible except on the days when drift conditions are absolutely perfect. There should be some codfish out at Coxes Ledge, though there’s no telling when we’ll see the next window of good weather for that fishery.

Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters said the blues were thick enough to foil more than a few guys’ efforts to catch bass over at the Island. Closer to home, some anglers have found decent bass stacked up off the periods of screaming tide south of Sugar Reef off Watch Hill.

The fluke fishing is still decent, if heavy on the shorts, off Napatree Point and over at Block, and scup are big and cooperative on just about any piece of broken bottom or wreck from Quonny past Watch Hill.

Connecticut—East

“Q” at River’s End was less than thrilled about the local striped bass fishing this week. There are, he said, some pockets of big fish around, but catching them is a major exercise in perseverance. A couple of kayak sharpies and small-boat guys have been stemming the tide over the top of several high spots outside Cornfield Point, and sticking an occasional bass to 40 pounds by swimming a live bunker or eel close to bottom. The one caveat: these anglers are sitting on their pet humps for 4 and sometimes 7 hours to get 2 bites and—maybe—one fish in a day.

Sea bass remain a bright spot in waters south of Cape Cod through CT.
Sea bass remain a bright spot in waters south of Cape Cod through CT.

Fluke fishing has been in the crapper, but there have been some giant, solitary bluefish on patrol out front, and Q’s optimistic that the WICC Tournament this weekend will turn up some heavyweight slammers. Scup are not as plentiful as they’ve been in other recent seasons, but the ones that are around are jumbos. Sea bass (bag limit: 3 whole fish) are around on the less-travelled wrecks, rockpiles and ledges out in the deeper water, but not many guys are trying for them. No firm reports on bonito.

Connecticut—West

Rick Mola and crew at Fisherman’s World were making ready for the much-anticipated WICC Greatest Bluefish Tournament on Earth, which launches Friday night/Saturday morning at 12:00 a.m. and runs through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Per tournament rules, the shop, an official weigh station, will be open 24/7 from Friday evening through Sunday evening. Mola suggested that guys out looking for some tournament-worthy blues should find some cooperative slammers in the Sound a bit NE of 11B, or north of 28C, where diamond jigging between 80’ and 115’ has been very good for a mix of big blues and the occasional decent bass. Mola also noted that cool water and abundant bunker have conspired to keep a modest supply of heavyweight bass around the Norwalk Islands.

The fluke are thinning out fast, but there are still some good ones around; best bet for a plus-size slab as of press time would be drifting live snapper bluefish along the 60’ to 100’ depths off the north side of 11B early and late in the tide. Speaking of snapper blues, Norwalk and most other western Sound harbors are chock-a-block full of them. Scup are big and plentiful.

New England Boating Fishing Roundup for August 22, 2014.

Our weekly roundup of the local fishing scene, from Maine to Connecticut.

Maine

Striper fishing in Maine’s Boothbay Harbor area continues to be a bit inconsistent, but still decent overall, according to Capt. Barry Gibson. “The slug of fresh water in the Kennebec River caused by the storm back on August 13 has finally dissipated, and anglers are again finding school-size bass in their usual haunts from Bath on down to the mouth,” Gibson says. “The beaches west of the Kennebec are giving ups some nice bass up to 44″, although numbers are generally down from where they should be, likely due to shoals of juvenile herring almost everywhere that the stripers are keying in on. Offshore, Plattes Bank is producing cod, pollock, cusk, and loads of haddock that are just under the legal size of 21”. Shark fishing, primarily for blue sharks, has been good on The Kettle and Sagadahoc Ledges, but tuna fishing has been slow, with just a handful of giants taken during the past week.

Saco Bay Tackle reports that Keith Jordan and the crew of the Bailey and Bella took first place in the tuna division in last week’s Casco Bay Classic with a 795-pound bluefin. Todd Jackson and the crew of the Fired Up also recorded a first in the shark division with a 450-pound thresher (a potential state record) in last week’s Casco Bay Classic tourney. Both tuna and shark fishing remain steady, according to the Saco Bay Tackle website.

The river mouths in Casco Bay are producing some decent fish on fly and light tackle.
The river mouths in Casco Bay are producing some decent fish on fly and light tackle.

Inshore, both schoolies and trophy stripers are still in evidence. The key, according to the shop, is to be flexible and try different spots. Pine Point, the Bathhouse, the end of Biddeford Pool, Goosefare Brook (on the coming tide) and Old Orchard have been productive. Chunked macs, worms and clams are the baits of choice. Anglers can also find action in the lower portion of the rivers and estuaries. Fly fishermen report better catches of late (fish the coming tide) using mackerel patterns, red/white and red/yellow Clousers and black Deceivers at night. Mackerel are readily available in their usual spots, along with harbor pollock.

Saco Bay also reports that anglers can still find stripers around the ledges, flats, islands and the lower portions of the rivers in and around Casco Bay. The mouths of the rivers (Presumpscot, Royal, Harraseeket, New Meadows, etc.) are best fished on a dropping tide, while fishing along the ledges is often more productive during a coming tide. Clams and seaworms have been productive, while top lures include the Daiwa SP and DS Minnows, Yo-Zuri Pin’s Magnet, Hydro Pencils, Hydro Poppers and Rebel Jumpin’ Minnows. Blue or olive 1/0 and 2/0 Deceivers (day) and red or black Deceivers (night) have been doing the trick for fly anglers.

Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers in Rowley, MA, said the striped bass fishing—both schoolies and shots of bigger fish—bounced back nicely over the last week in several areas between Boston Harbor and roughly Plum Island. Specifically, there have been regular surface feeds out in front of Cranes, often with little fish gorging on 4” to 5” sand eels or jumbo silversides. When that activity dwindles, larger fish have moved right in—often within minutes. There have been larger bass—36” to about 43”—crashing through mackerel off Nahant in the vicinity of Egg Rock. Smaller fish in that area have been chasing juvenile herring. There are still plenty of pogies in Boston Harbor.

Bonito are scattered but available in certain spots
Bonito are scattered but available in certain spots.

With the September 1 cod closure looming, and millions of shorts crawling all over Jeffreys, most of the dedicated bottom fishermen have started looking for haddock to work on after cod land on the off-limits list. There have been decent numbers of quality haddock on Tillies Bank and in the deeper soft-bottom areas off the east side of Stellwagen.

Tuna fishing remains steadily slow, with a fish here and a fish there for the folks putting in the requisite hours—and mighty slim pickings for the instant-gratification crowd. “If you hit one area for 3 consecutive days and go through the right motions—Jeffreys, Stellwagen’s NW or SW Corners, Ipswich Bay, Platts, Peaked Hill, etc.—you have a good chance of getting a fish,” noted Moody. “But there’s no one place that seems to have any number of fish feeding on a dependable pattern.” What fish have been coming in have been huge—100” on up—but there have been no school-sized fish around to speak of.

Cape Cod

Blackbeard’s said the fast and furious live-eeling bass bite off P-Town cooled right off the past few days after coughing up numbers of big fish through the first part of the week. Chatham, meanwhile, has come together nicely, with good fish—bass from 20 to 40 pounds—piling up off Monomoy and Handkerchief Shoal, among other places. Not surprisingly, given the dearth of larger fish elsewhere, these fish off Chatham are seeing a pretty serious amount of fishing pressure.

There have been some big blues, from roughly 8 to 14 pounds, cooperating off Eastham and Wellfleet, providing some excitement in a season that has seen precious few concentrations of choppers until now. One charter captain reported a sizeable bonito caught by trolling in the Bay, the first one that skipper has caught in almost 40 years in the racket.

Small bass are available around rocky shorelines in Buzzards Bay
Small bass are available around rocky shorelines in Buzzards Bay.

 

Fluke reports have been inconsistent, with quite a few shorts to cull through between keepers off Falmouth and in Vineyard Sound.

There have been some giant sightings along the outer beaches, but actual reports on the tuna catching front have been sparse at best.

Red Top said the bass activity in the Canal dropped off quite a bit over the last week, with swimming plugs or eels taking the place of the topwaters that were doing most of the catching a week ago.

The word is that fluke fishing has been tough going in Buzzards Bay and in Vineyard Sound. There have been scup and tautog chewing at intervals around the Maritime Academy.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & Buzzards Bay

Coop’s Bait and Tackle said the bonito activity has been notably inconsistent off the Vineyard in many of the usual August haunts—a fish here and a fish there despite all kinds of bait around. There are tons of small sand eels and 6-pound blues at the Hooter, plus the occasional bonito. Trolled swimming plugs are the ticket. Another decent bonito bet over the last week or so has been the Bonito Bar off Nantucket, but the action has not been gangbusters.

No word on albies just yet, and the striper fishing has been mighty slow. Bluefish have been a sorely needed bright spot, with reliable numbers of medium to jumbo choppers taking bait and plugs off South Beach and East Beach in Chappy, as well as the Wasque Rips and the Hooter.

The fluke fishing is slow and scattered, but the black sea bass are big and generally cooperative just about anywhere off Edgartown and on the lesser-known hangs and hard pieces along the North Shore. The recent northeast wind put a big damper on the school bluefin action that had been good around Gordons Gully and other spots not far off the backside of the Island; all hands are wondering when and where those fish will pop up again.

In Buzzards Bay, things are very quiet except for scattered blitzes of small blues off West Falmouth. However, the large amount of bait in certain areas has albie fishermen getting hopeful. Still no confirmed sign of these fish, but we are moving into prime albie time.

Small stripers are available on topwater plugs and soft-plastics around some of the well-known rocky spots in the Upper Bay, especially in the evening and early morning on a rising tide.

Rhode Island

Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown noted that a handful of his more dedicated bass guys have continued to take heavyweight fish, mainly swimming live pogies off the SW corner of Block Island. Indeed, one of his regulars has reported multiple 50-plus-pound fish over the last week.

There are scup for the taking from Rhode Island throuh Long Island Sound
There are scup for the taking from Rhode Island through Long Island Sound.

Closer to home, even the sharpest of the sharpies have been grumbling about the summer slump, picking a bass here and a bass there but nothing too consistent; more than one of Sam’s sources has reported marking fish that just won’t eat on the reefs off Ocean Drive.

The fluke seem to be draining out of the Bay at an alarming rate, piling up on the deeper ground well south—3 or 4 miles south—in places no one usually looks for them. Sam believes this could be one of those years that the slabs—among other species—skip town way early. Not surprisingly, there are tons of black sea bass scattered all over the place, and it will be nice (to say the absolute least) when we’re finally allowed to keep a whole 7 of the superabundant cellar-dwellers when the bag limit jumps in a week or so.

Barring rumors and phantom sightings, the bonito have yet to show up near Newport, and the canyon tuna fishing has not been exactly spectacular.

Matt at Snug Harbor said there have been a few bigeye encounters down around the edge at Atlantis Canyon over the last 5 days. Back on Sunday—the last real weather window—the crew of the Big Game had a pair of nice eyeballs that scaled 240 and 160 pounds on the troll, along with a sprinkling of yellows and longfins. Another local tuna sharpie, out on a Montauk vessel trolling that same rough zone early Thursday, reported taking a big eyeball well north of 200 and numbers of other fish, mainly smaller yellows and a few longfins. Other guys have found yellowfins averaging somewhere between 25 and 40 pounds, with the occasional stray 70-pounder, plus mahis, numbers of wahoo, and other fast-swimming mystery meat trolling down in the Shipping Lanes, then small bluefin tuna on the homeward troll in the vicinity of the Dump.

Most of the usual 30-fathom spots—the Suffolk, the Gully and the Mud Hole, among others—have been turning out an encouraging number of small makos, big blue dogs and the occasional thresher. Speaking of the Mud Hole, Matt has been packing splices and topshots on 80s and 130s at a fever pace over the last week, a sure sign the giant fleet is keeping a sharp eye on developments in that occasional late-summer bluefin hotbed.

Inshore, the bass fishing at Block Island has been markedly better during the daytime than after sundown over the last week—and the fishery has definitely dropped off a bit from where it was a couple weeks ago. There are bluefish just about everywhere, both along the beach and over at the Island, but the bonito have been elusive, barring one brief appearance well outside the mouth of the Narrow River in Narragansett earlier in the week.

There are still fluke on a solid bite out in the deep water off the east side of Block, as far east as the East Grounds, and the sea bass are still big and plentiful.

The bottom fishing along the South County beaches has been terrible except on the days when drift conditions are absolutely perfect. There should be some codfish out at Coxes Ledge, though there’s no telling when we’ll see the next window of good weather for that fishery.

Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters said the blues were thick enough to foil more than a few guys’ efforts to catch bass over at the Island. Closer to home, some anglers have found decent bass stacked up off the periods of screaming tide south of Sugar Reef off Watch Hill.

The fluke fishing is still decent, if heavy on the shorts, off Napatree Point and over at Block, and scup are big and cooperative on just about any piece of broken bottom or wreck from Quonny past Watch Hill.

Connecticut—East

“Q” at River’s End was less than thrilled about the local striped bass fishing this week. There are, he said, some pockets of big fish around, but catching them is a major exercise in perseverance. A couple of kayak sharpies and small-boat guys have been stemming the tide over the top of several high spots outside Cornfield Point, and sticking an occasional bass to 40 pounds by swimming a live bunker or eel close to bottom. The one caveat: these anglers are sitting on their pet humps for 4 and sometimes 7 hours to get 2 bites and—maybe—one fish in a day.

Sea bass remain a bright spot in waters south of Cape Cod through CT.
Sea bass remain a bright spot in waters south of Cape Cod through CT.

Fluke fishing has been in the crapper, but there have been some giant, solitary bluefish on patrol out front, and Q’s optimistic that the WICC Tournament this weekend will turn up some heavyweight slammers. Scup are not as plentiful as they’ve been in other recent seasons, but the ones that are around are jumbos. Sea bass (bag limit: 3 whole fish) are around on the less-travelled wrecks, rockpiles and ledges out in the deeper water, but not many guys are trying for them. No firm reports on bonito.

Connecticut—West

Rick Mola and crew at Fisherman’s World were making ready for the much-anticipated WICC Greatest Bluefish Tournament on Earth, which launches Friday night/Saturday morning at 12:00 a.m. and runs through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Per tournament rules, the shop, an official weigh station, will be open 24/7 from Friday evening through Sunday evening. Mola suggested that guys out looking for some tournament-worthy blues should find some cooperative slammers in the Sound a bit NE of 11B, or north of 28C, where diamond jigging between 80’ and 115’ has been very good for a mix of big blues and the occasional decent bass. Mola also noted that cool water and abundant bunker have conspired to keep a modest supply of heavyweight bass around the Norwalk Islands.

The fluke are thinning out fast, but there are still some good ones around; best bet for a plus-size slab as of press time would be drifting live snapper bluefish along the 60’ to 100’ depths off the north side of 11B early and late in the tide. Speaking of snapper blues, Norwalk and most other western Sound harbors are chock-a-block full of them. Scup are big and plentiful.