New England Fishing Roundup: 9.12.14

New England Fishing Roundup: 9.12.14  Our weekly roundup of the latest fishing action, from Maine to Connecticut.

Our weekly roundup of the latest fishing action, from Maine to Connecticut.

Massachusetts—North Shore & Boston

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers said that on the downside, the blues that had been in thick thinned right out, but on the plus side, the surface-feeding striper situation blew wide open across quite a wide swath of coastline, from roughly Boston Harbor all the way northward to the mouth of the Merrimack River. Not a bad trade-off, was Moody’s assessment. He did go on to clarify that the action, most of it involving bass from schoolie size to small keepers, has centered around peanut bunker, and it has been on the move, with no clear, sustained geographic epicenter.

Bass fishing has picked up along the North Shore, with some big ones in the mix
Bass fishing has picked up along the North Shore, with some big ones in the mix.

There were rumors of a couple of 50-pounders being taken over the past week, though the attendant details were understandably sketchy. In general, what bigger bass have been crossing the docks have been falling to live eels after dark, and the guys catching them are keeping a pretty tight lid on the particulars of location.

There has been more reliable giant activity off New Hampshire and out on Jeffreys; after a brief and somewhat overstated live-bait giant bite near Peaked Hill Bar on the backside of Cape Cod, there has been some long-awaited school-tuna activity off Chatham—more south and east than east or north. To date, though, the Gulf of Maine—Stellwagen all the way up to Platts—has yet to see any real predictable school bluefin action.

In Boston, Pete Santini of Fishing Finatics in Everett says that orange, red and purple Santini tubes fished on leadcore line with seaworms are nailing bass along the Winthrop and Nahant shorelines. There are also bass at the Amelia Earhart dam. Mackerel are starting to reappear off Nahant as well, and there is a large school of pogies on the Deer Island Flats with bass under them. Sporadic surface activity is happening anywhere from Castle Island to Graves and Broad Sound. Porbeagle sharks and a few pollock and redfish have been reported by guys fishing the bottom out by Wildcat.

Massachusetts—South Shore

Pete at Belsan Bait noted the stiff easterly winds in conjunction with moon-tide ebbs around the local harbors and river mouths have made for some truly horrific inlet conditions over the last 4 or 5 days, keeping most of the local fleet lashed to the pilings. There have been some solid shore reports from the Second and Third Cliff areas, as well as around Minot and the Glades—the latter 2 turning out some stocky bass in the 18- to 22-pound range, mostly for guys drifting or slinging live eels. There’s a load of peanut bunker and some schoolies in tow inside Scituate Harbor, and Belsan thinks this is a good time to work the local rocks.

Black sea bass are sure to please the kids
Black sea bass are sure to please the kids.

No real school tuna reports have materialized, but quite a few of his customers with the benefit of trailerable-boat mobility have been dragging their rigs down to Falmouth Harbor or Green Pond to chase relatively abundant false albacore that have been on high-speed patrol anywhere in the zone from Craigsville Beach in Hyannis to Nobska to the Elizabeths or northward toward the Canal. There have been pods of them scattered all over the place, taking some of the bite out of what has been a pretty dismal season along the South Shore.

Massachusetts—Cape Cod

Paul at Blackbeard’s was relieved to watch a cricket that had been driving him batty, chirping, hiding, chirping, hiding, and repeating most of Thursday afternoon wander right into a sizeable spider web around the time I checked in. Such has been the fishing-traffic situation of late. Thankfully, noted Paul, the fishing has been showing some signs of improvement, the march toward what he called “fall-like symptoms.”

The Viineyard has albies, as well as scattered bonito
The Viineyard has albies, as well as scattered bonito.

There are albies scattered all over the Nantucket Sound side, anywhere from Hyannis westward, providing some high excitement for doldrums-weary locals in need of screeching drags.

The bass population is still pretty strong around Handkerchief Shoal, and Paul was encouraged to see full-color photographic proof of some recent striper action along local beaches, notably Coast Guard and Nauset.

The blues are still roving about a bit offshore of Eastham on the Bay side, and venturing up into Wellfleet Harbor on several occasions earlier in the week.

Red Top reported some pretty encouraging topwater activity on larger bass all along the banks of the Ditch, with fish to around 30 pounds making intermittent appearances up and down the line mid-week. Some wayward albies made a surprise appearance in—of all places—the East End of the Canal on Thursday morning. Those speeding tunoids have been on a much more consistent program in the stretch from about Woods Hole northward as far as Pocasset Harbor

Tautog are starting to stir in the rocks, and some of the sharpies have been taking some decent linesides around Quicks Hole—but not every tide.

Offshore, the weather has kept a lot of boats tied up lately, but there’s every reason to believe that mahi are still available around the Dump area, and that sharking will continue to hold up for those who can get out next week.

Massachusetts—Buzzards Bay & Islands

Coop Gilkes at Coop’s Bait and Tackle said his regulars have been doing a brisk trade in the albie department pretty much all around the Vineyard. Bluefish results are still fair, but definitely down a couple rungs from where they were a couple weeks ago. Bonito fishing is very spotty now, and striper results are not altogether more encouraging.

Tautog are starting to fill in around Buzzards Bay rock piles
Tautog are starting to fill in around Buzzards Bay rock piles.

Speaking of, Coop noted that he and a host of other veteran island stripermen have been raising unholy hell over ASMFC’s utter failure to afford one of our most important game fish any regulatory protection—and sadly enough, they’re becoming increasingly certain we’re going to watch this whole thing head right back down the toilet on almost the exact course the fishery followed the last time we crashed it. Asked for his thoughts on a prudent set of regs, Gilkes said he’d drop the bag to one fish, raise the minimum size to 36”, then tally up all the commercial quota landed on Mass striper licenses held by out-of-staters, subtract that off the top of the commercial allocation, eliminate those licenses, and think hard about requiring any commercial striper license-holder to document that 75% of his income relates directly to the fishery. Gilkes, for those who don’t know, is an absolute legend in Vineyard surfcasting; if you’d like to get a quick snapshot of some of his credentials from an earlier part of his life, you really ought to track down a copy of Robert Post’s Reading the Water (perhaps my favorite fishing book of all time, for what that’s worth).

In Buzzards Bay, the albies have been making sporadic appearances from the Canal all along the Falmouth shoreline. Small metals and soft-plastics have been taking fish, which are ranging from 6 to 8 pounds. Bottom fishing for tautig is picking up, and there are ever-present sea bass around structure, some of them making surface appearances when the bait is thick. Not much to report from the west side of the bay, save for some schoolie activity around structure points. These small bass are available and beginning to feed more aggressively as the waters cool, if you simply want to enjoy some light-tackle action.

Rhode Island

Albies are running the Nantucket Sound shores
Albies are running the Nantucket Sound shores.

While recent weather has been notably uncooperative, there have been a few bright spots in Ocean State waters. Notably, the false albacore have finally arrived in numbers worth pursuing, both along the Newport oceanfront, and, on Wednesday morning and all day Thursday, between the West Wall in Point Judith and roughly Carpenters Bar in Matunuck. These speedsters are mixed with blues at times, but Matt at Snug Harbor said some of his regulars managed to stick as many as a dozen albies casting the usual arsenal of tins, flies, soft-plastics and tight-running swimmers.

There have also been regular hardtail appearances in and around New Harbor/Great Salt Pond over on Block Island’s west side. By some accounts, the bass fishing has picked up a bit off Block Island’s SW Corner, while others say it’s pretty near awful.

The biggest draw between gales has been the 3-plus-week, round-the-clock chunking bonanza down in the Fishtails—a rare (at least over the last decade) chance to load up on yellowfins, longfins, bigeyes, etc. in the closest canyon for many southern New Englanders. Even with all the recent wind, the sheer volume of butterfish chum that has been ladled into that area should, most of my more tuna-attuned sources agree, hold what must be one thick body of 50- to 80-pound yellows and other pelagic life in that zone for some time. As it stands, next weather window looks to be from late Sunday night through Tuesday—barring changes.

Much closer to the proverbial barn, the fluke fishing south of Block has warmed back up after a minor lull, but the fishery out on the East Grounds imploded with the arrival, more than a week ago, of an immense heap of suspended weeds that rendered the whole area unfishable.

School bass are scattered around Narragansett Bay, there are bluefish all along the south shore beaches, and the scup/sea bass fishing on the humps, high spots, wrecks, and rockpiles is about as good as it gets.

Connecticut—East

 

Blues to 9 pounds or so have been available around the Connecticut River
Blues to 9 pounds or so have been available around the Connecticut River.

River’s End in Old Saybrook says that the local waters have been inundated with blues, most from 7 to 9 pounds. Blitzes have been daily along the beaches as far upriver as Essex and as far west as Westbrook (and probably beyond).

One of the light-tackle guys said there are plenty of schoolies, but no keepers hanging with peanut bunker around the mouth of the Connecticut River. Per the usual for this point in the season, when most of the flukers have hung up their bucktails, a small handful of slab savants are absolutely creaming the big fish by drifting slopes in very deep water along major exit routes out of the easternmost reaches of the Sound. These late-inning doormats are generally bunched up tight on specific pieces of bottom, and the shelf-life of any given stop along their offshore parade route is measured in days, not weeks.

Scup are big and plentiful on rockpiles less traveled—ditto for larger sea bass—but the albie fanatics have yet to find anything worth staying local over; they’ve been running to RI or Montauk, with mixed results.

Connecticut—West

 

Slab-size fluke are still available in deep water of Long island Sound
Slab-size fluke are still available in deep water of Long island Sound.

Rick Mola at Fisherman’s World has been thrilled with the number of canyon first-timers who’ve returned to the shop with news of some banner hauls of nice yellowfins and a surprising number of bigeyes over the last 2 weeks. Mola concurs that the action looks like it should hold up at least for the foreseeable future.

While most of the last-minute fluke hunters are working the 80’ to 100’ ground out in mid-Sound, Mola pointed out that there is always a second shot of slabs that has summered way up inside the harbors and local estuaries, fattening up on spearing, silversides, peanut bunker, and snapper blues. Those fish are still around in surprising numbers up inside Norwalk Harbor, Rowayton, and other inside spots few flukemen usually associate with keeper fluke—especially so late in the year.

Chunking and diamond jigging have been reasonably productive on a mix of blues and bass heavier on the blues of late, and Mola expects to hear of some local albie catches over the next week or so. There are scup to 18 inches on most local reefs, rockpiles, and high spots.

New England Fishing Roundup: 9.12.14  Our weekly roundup of the latest fishing action, from Maine to Connecticut.

Our weekly roundup of the latest fishing action, from Maine to Connecticut.

Massachusetts—North Shore & Boston

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers said that on the downside, the blues that had been in thick thinned right out, but on the plus side, the surface-feeding striper situation blew wide open across quite a wide swath of coastline, from roughly Boston Harbor all the way northward to the mouth of the Merrimack River. Not a bad trade-off, was Moody’s assessment. He did go on to clarify that the action, most of it involving bass from schoolie size to small keepers, has centered around peanut bunker, and it has been on the move, with no clear, sustained geographic epicenter.

Bass fishing has picked up along the North Shore, with some big ones in the mix
Bass fishing has picked up along the North Shore, with some big ones in the mix.

There were rumors of a couple of 50-pounders being taken over the past week, though the attendant details were understandably sketchy. In general, what bigger bass have been crossing the docks have been falling to live eels after dark, and the guys catching them are keeping a pretty tight lid on the particulars of location.

There has been more reliable giant activity off New Hampshire and out on Jeffreys; after a brief and somewhat overstated live-bait giant bite near Peaked Hill Bar on the backside of Cape Cod, there has been some long-awaited school-tuna activity off Chatham—more south and east than east or north. To date, though, the Gulf of Maine—Stellwagen all the way up to Platts—has yet to see any real predictable school bluefin action.

In Boston, Pete Santini of Fishing Finatics in Everett says that orange, red and purple Santini tubes fished on leadcore line with seaworms are nailing bass along the Winthrop and Nahant shorelines. There are also bass at the Amelia Earhart dam. Mackerel are starting to reappear off Nahant as well, and there is a large school of pogies on the Deer Island Flats with bass under them. Sporadic surface activity is happening anywhere from Castle Island to Graves and Broad Sound. Porbeagle sharks and a few pollock and redfish have been reported by guys fishing the bottom out by Wildcat.

Massachusetts—South Shore

Pete at Belsan Bait noted the stiff easterly winds in conjunction with moon-tide ebbs around the local harbors and river mouths have made for some truly horrific inlet conditions over the last 4 or 5 days, keeping most of the local fleet lashed to the pilings. There have been some solid shore reports from the Second and Third Cliff areas, as well as around Minot and the Glades—the latter 2 turning out some stocky bass in the 18- to 22-pound range, mostly for guys drifting or slinging live eels. There’s a load of peanut bunker and some schoolies in tow inside Scituate Harbor, and Belsan thinks this is a good time to work the local rocks.

Black sea bass are sure to please the kids
Black sea bass are sure to please the kids.

No real school tuna reports have materialized, but quite a few of his customers with the benefit of trailerable-boat mobility have been dragging their rigs down to Falmouth Harbor or Green Pond to chase relatively abundant false albacore that have been on high-speed patrol anywhere in the zone from Craigsville Beach in Hyannis to Nobska to the Elizabeths or northward toward the Canal. There have been pods of them scattered all over the place, taking some of the bite out of what has been a pretty dismal season along the South Shore.

Massachusetts—Cape Cod

Paul at Blackbeard’s was relieved to watch a cricket that had been driving him batty, chirping, hiding, chirping, hiding, and repeating most of Thursday afternoon wander right into a sizeable spider web around the time I checked in. Such has been the fishing-traffic situation of late. Thankfully, noted Paul, the fishing has been showing some signs of improvement, the march toward what he called “fall-like symptoms.”

The Viineyard has albies, as well as scattered bonito
The Viineyard has albies, as well as scattered bonito.

There are albies scattered all over the Nantucket Sound side, anywhere from Hyannis westward, providing some high excitement for doldrums-weary locals in need of screeching drags.

The bass population is still pretty strong around Handkerchief Shoal, and Paul was encouraged to see full-color photographic proof of some recent striper action along local beaches, notably Coast Guard and Nauset.

The blues are still roving about a bit offshore of Eastham on the Bay side, and venturing up into Wellfleet Harbor on several occasions earlier in the week.

Red Top reported some pretty encouraging topwater activity on larger bass all along the banks of the Ditch, with fish to around 30 pounds making intermittent appearances up and down the line mid-week. Some wayward albies made a surprise appearance in—of all places—the East End of the Canal on Thursday morning. Those speeding tunoids have been on a much more consistent program in the stretch from about Woods Hole northward as far as Pocasset Harbor

Tautog are starting to stir in the rocks, and some of the sharpies have been taking some decent linesides around Quicks Hole—but not every tide.

Offshore, the weather has kept a lot of boats tied up lately, but there’s every reason to believe that mahi are still available around the Dump area, and that sharking will continue to hold up for those who can get out next week.

Massachusetts—Buzzards Bay & Islands

Coop Gilkes at Coop’s Bait and Tackle said his regulars have been doing a brisk trade in the albie department pretty much all around the Vineyard. Bluefish results are still fair, but definitely down a couple rungs from where they were a couple weeks ago. Bonito fishing is very spotty now, and striper results are not altogether more encouraging.

Tautog are starting to fill in around Buzzards Bay rock piles
Tautog are starting to fill in around Buzzards Bay rock piles.

Speaking of, Coop noted that he and a host of other veteran island stripermen have been raising unholy hell over ASMFC’s utter failure to afford one of our most important game fish any regulatory protection—and sadly enough, they’re becoming increasingly certain we’re going to watch this whole thing head right back down the toilet on almost the exact course the fishery followed the last time we crashed it. Asked for his thoughts on a prudent set of regs, Gilkes said he’d drop the bag to one fish, raise the minimum size to 36”, then tally up all the commercial quota landed on Mass striper licenses held by out-of-staters, subtract that off the top of the commercial allocation, eliminate those licenses, and think hard about requiring any commercial striper license-holder to document that 75% of his income relates directly to the fishery. Gilkes, for those who don’t know, is an absolute legend in Vineyard surfcasting; if you’d like to get a quick snapshot of some of his credentials from an earlier part of his life, you really ought to track down a copy of Robert Post’s Reading the Water (perhaps my favorite fishing book of all time, for what that’s worth).

In Buzzards Bay, the albies have been making sporadic appearances from the Canal all along the Falmouth shoreline. Small metals and soft-plastics have been taking fish, which are ranging from 6 to 8 pounds. Bottom fishing for tautig is picking up, and there are ever-present sea bass around structure, some of them making surface appearances when the bait is thick. Not much to report from the west side of the bay, save for some schoolie activity around structure points. These small bass are available and beginning to feed more aggressively as the waters cool, if you simply want to enjoy some light-tackle action.

Rhode Island

Albies are running the Nantucket Sound shores
Albies are running the Nantucket Sound shores.

While recent weather has been notably uncooperative, there have been a few bright spots in Ocean State waters. Notably, the false albacore have finally arrived in numbers worth pursuing, both along the Newport oceanfront, and, on Wednesday morning and all day Thursday, between the West Wall in Point Judith and roughly Carpenters Bar in Matunuck. These speedsters are mixed with blues at times, but Matt at Snug Harbor said some of his regulars managed to stick as many as a dozen albies casting the usual arsenal of tins, flies, soft-plastics and tight-running swimmers.

There have also been regular hardtail appearances in and around New Harbor/Great Salt Pond over on Block Island’s west side. By some accounts, the bass fishing has picked up a bit off Block Island’s SW Corner, while others say it’s pretty near awful.

The biggest draw between gales has been the 3-plus-week, round-the-clock chunking bonanza down in the Fishtails—a rare (at least over the last decade) chance to load up on yellowfins, longfins, bigeyes, etc. in the closest canyon for many southern New Englanders. Even with all the recent wind, the sheer volume of butterfish chum that has been ladled into that area should, most of my more tuna-attuned sources agree, hold what must be one thick body of 50- to 80-pound yellows and other pelagic life in that zone for some time. As it stands, next weather window looks to be from late Sunday night through Tuesday—barring changes.

Much closer to the proverbial barn, the fluke fishing south of Block has warmed back up after a minor lull, but the fishery out on the East Grounds imploded with the arrival, more than a week ago, of an immense heap of suspended weeds that rendered the whole area unfishable.

School bass are scattered around Narragansett Bay, there are bluefish all along the south shore beaches, and the scup/sea bass fishing on the humps, high spots, wrecks, and rockpiles is about as good as it gets.

Connecticut—East

 

Blues to 9 pounds or so have been available around the Connecticut River
Blues to 9 pounds or so have been available around the Connecticut River.

River’s End in Old Saybrook says that the local waters have been inundated with blues, most from 7 to 9 pounds. Blitzes have been daily along the beaches as far upriver as Essex and as far west as Westbrook (and probably beyond).

One of the light-tackle guys said there are plenty of schoolies, but no keepers hanging with peanut bunker around the mouth of the Connecticut River. Per the usual for this point in the season, when most of the flukers have hung up their bucktails, a small handful of slab savants are absolutely creaming the big fish by drifting slopes in very deep water along major exit routes out of the easternmost reaches of the Sound. These late-inning doormats are generally bunched up tight on specific pieces of bottom, and the shelf-life of any given stop along their offshore parade route is measured in days, not weeks.

Scup are big and plentiful on rockpiles less traveled—ditto for larger sea bass—but the albie fanatics have yet to find anything worth staying local over; they’ve been running to RI or Montauk, with mixed results.

Connecticut—West

 

Slab-size fluke are still available in deep water of Long island Sound
Slab-size fluke are still available in deep water of Long island Sound.

Rick Mola at Fisherman’s World has been thrilled with the number of canyon first-timers who’ve returned to the shop with news of some banner hauls of nice yellowfins and a surprising number of bigeyes over the last 2 weeks. Mola concurs that the action looks like it should hold up at least for the foreseeable future.

While most of the last-minute fluke hunters are working the 80’ to 100’ ground out in mid-Sound, Mola pointed out that there is always a second shot of slabs that has summered way up inside the harbors and local estuaries, fattening up on spearing, silversides, peanut bunker, and snapper blues. Those fish are still around in surprising numbers up inside Norwalk Harbor, Rowayton, and other inside spots few flukemen usually associate with keeper fluke—especially so late in the year.

Chunking and diamond jigging have been reasonably productive on a mix of blues and bass heavier on the blues of late, and Mola expects to hear of some local albie catches over the next week or so. There are scup to 18 inches on most local reefs, rockpiles, and high spots.