The Weekly Bite: October 17-22
October 22, 2010
Well, I’m back in the saddle after a much-needed vacation to Barcelona, Spain, where the seas were flat-calm the entire week of my visit. Naturally, there was no Mediterranean fishing in the cards for me, and I returned home to more of the same gale-force winds that have hampered local fishing efforts for the better part of 2 months! Guess we’re paying the price for what was a very good spring and summer.
While the action is winding down north of Boston, there’s plenty of fish around if you can find a weather window. Stripers, blues and tuna are available north of Cape Cod, and should be for another couple of weeks. South of the Cape, tautog are ganged up over shallow structure and saving the day for action-starved inshore anglers. There are school stripers and huge blues along the beaches in Rhode Island. That action could last right through late November in Rhode Island and Connecticut barring any really cold snaps. It isn’t over yet!
As my flight was landing in Logan Airport last Sunday, I noticed a huge flock of gulls feeding over fish just outside the harbor, near Grave Light. It was whitecap city down there, though, and no boats were on scene.
I just checked in with Pete Santini of Fishin’ Finatics in Everett, and he reports on a variety of opportunities in and around Boston.
- Big bass and blues have been hammering herring near the Amelia Earhart Dam as the bait leaves the Mystic River. Pete reports that the top of the tide seems to be offering the best action.
- More bass are being caught on poppers and soft-plastic shads off Revere Beach and Deer Island. The action with stripers and blues should last another 2 weeks, Pete predicts.
- Cod are beginning to fill in around the B-Buoy and should be available in President Roads and off Deer Island soon. Small, light metal jigs will take these fish, which are feeding on herring.
- Winter flounder season will reopen on November 1, and there should be lots of fish available in spots like Nantasket Beach.
- Big fall-run pollock are becoming more abundant on the northwest corner of Stellwagen. These fish are a lot of fun to catch on light jigging gear, and fight much harder than cod.
- Tuna are still on Stellwagen Bank, especially the southeast corner, if you can get out there between windy stretches. Live bait is the key.
- Reports from the usual sources have been spotty as many anglers switched over to waterfowling. However, we have heard some reports of bass and blues hammering bait off Duxbury. There’s every reason to believe that the fish currently inside Boston Harbor will be passing along the South Shore as they migrates south over the next 2 weeks.
According to Eric and the Hook-Up in Orleans:
- Tuna are still available on the southeast and southwest corners of Stellwagen Bank. Giants and smaller fish in the 40” class are both present, and live bait is the best way to score, especially with the bigger fish. Smaller fish are falling to squid bars and jigs, as well as bait.
- Eric remains hopeful that the full moon will spark a fresh bite, and expects Chatham to light up any day. He points out that last November saw an awesome giant bite, and that the waters east and north still have fish that will have to pass the Cape at some point.
- Reports on striper fishing have been limited by the wind, although Eric is confident that the fish are out there. The Outer Cape beaches have been quiet, but again, that’s mainly due to a lack of serious effort.
- Tautog are the main event in Buzzards Bay. There are lots of fish up to 10 pounds over the shallow reefs and other structure throughout the bay, and the bite should last for a good 2 or 3 weeks longer before the fish begin heading for deeper water.
- We also received a report of blitzing bass and blues off Westport around mid-week.
Spoke with Steve at Dick’s Bait & Tackle
- The conversation was brief, because no one has been able to fish because of the wind. He said there are some small bass and blues kicking around in spots such as Great Pond and along the North Shore, but no one has been able to check out the boat spots.
- No reports of albies or bonito.
- There was an epic bluefish blitz at Third Beach in Middletown on Thursday. Fish up to 15 pounds were taken hand over fist for 3 hours in the late afternoon. No doubt they were feeding on mullet, which have been unusually abundant this year.
- Some decent bass are still being taken on Brenton Reef and Elbow Ledge at night on eels if the weather allows.
We spoke with Arden at the Saltwater Edge
- Confirmed that big blues are the name of the game along the beaches, and that huge mullet up to 14” long have been the bait du jour, which means excellent topwater action with big plugs and flies. He also heard of some big blues feeding on mullet up inside the Sakonnet River, but that was a few days ago.
- Arden also told us that tautog fishing is phenomenal over virtually any wreck or rockpile in 20 feet of water, with green and Asian crabs being the top baits.
David Henault of Ocean State Tackle in Providence offered the following:
- Tautog action is gangbusters right now throughout the Bay. Fish up to 12 pounds are being taken over virtually any rockpile and as far north as the Providence River. David predicts that the action inside the Bay should continue for a few more weeks before the fish move to the ocean waters. He also noted that the Frances Fleet partyboat did well with ‘tog over shallow structure off Beavertail Point recently.
- Striped bass fishing isn’t exactly off the charts, but there are some nice fishing being taken in the Seekonk River and around the mouth of the Blackstone River, as herring begin emptying out of upstream areas. Some big blues up to 36” are being taken as well.
- David also noted that some big bass are being taken on the reefs outside Newport, mostly at night on live eels and squid. He says squid have been in and out of Newport Harbor and Jamestown, but it’s hit or miss.
Capt. Mitch Chagnon of Sakarak Charters reports:
- Block Island’s Southwest Ledge has been producing very well for anglers who can get out there. He says that you can hardly keep a jig in the water for 5 minutes before hooking up. He expects the dark side of the moon in November to really light things up on the Ledge.
- A friend was checking out the Misquamicut area earlier this week and reported seeing a huge blitz just offshore. He couldn’t tell what species was creating the commotion, but later reports suggest bass, blues and even false albacore. Mitch Chagnon confirmed that the South County beaches have been on fire, as there are lots of mullet for predators to feast on.
- Anglers seeking huge bluefish should get to the South County area asap, as the local waters are thick with fish up to 17 pounds. Some decent stripers are mixed in as well. Best action seems to happen during southwest winds.
- Tautog fishing remains strong as well, especially over shallower structure in 10 to 20 feet.
Pat Abate at River’s End Tackle in Saybrook spoke to us today and reported:
- The blackfish action has been fair to good along most of the coast, with most of the fish being taken tight to the breakwalls. The deeper reefs such as Hatchetts and Southwest Reef have not fished as well, but that’s because the majority of fish are in shallow water (10-20’). He adds that sharpies using the jig-and-crab technique are doing very well.
- Striper fishing reports have been limited the last few days, but the guys fishing Long Sand Shoal were scoring well with live eels at night. Most of the fish were in the mid-teens to lower-20s, and there have been a few monster blues mixed in as well.
- Pat added that Montauk had been fishing well lately, with loads of school stripers available on top during the day, along with albies and blues.
Our friend Capt. Tom Migdalski send us an email with the following report from New Haven east to Guilford:
- “Blackfish are dominating the reefs, rock piles and breakwalls. It’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons in recent memory. Part of this good fishing may be due to the fact that guys have often been kept off the water with our frequent blows, thus reducing the pressure on the fish. Some reefs are holding bushels of short blackfish and large porgies, so it’s sometimes difficult for the bigger blacks to find your bait before the small ones steal it. However, this does not seem to be the case on all reefs. Excellent catches of large fish are coming in from all over. I limited out pretty easily on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with the largest one weighing 11 pounds.
- We are picking us some large (large for our area) sea bass on the blackfish rigs, which is a good sign; however, as you may know, the season is closed. So the best you can do is snap quick photos and get them back in the water. I feel the water temperature is above normal for this time of year, which may explain some of this accidental porgy action. It also indicates that there are no large blues chasing them off the reefs!
- On Wednesday, we had the rare treat (rare for central Long Island Sound) of spotting a few schools of albies busting baitfish in open water about three miles off shore. Positively identified them as tunas because they were completely clearing the water. They were moving west into the ebbing tide. Unfortunately, they stayed up for such short periods that we were unable to get clean shots at them.
- The bluefish scene here remains frustrating — perhaps hard to believe — as it has been (with a few rare exceptions) for the entire season. We have an absence of large bluefish (anything over 5 pounds) on all the reefs. Chunkers are picking up a few, but there are no schools for diamond jiggers to target. That said, it’s been a bumper year for harbor blues. Fish in the 2- to 5-pound class have been holding on many reefs, providing hot topwater, fly and jigging action. The best size for eating that you could want. However, the usual slug of, say, 8- to 14-pound bluefish we expect at this time of year are nowhere to be found—and I’ve fished all the ledges within a 15-mile span. Two days of back-to-back diamond jigging produced one bluefish in the teens, but we could have sunk the boat with the little guys in the 20-inch range.
- Schoolie stripers have not flooded into our area yet, although I’m expecting (hoping for) the usual big push of small fish onto the reefs in the coming weeks. We’ve had a few scattered bass over the structures, but nothing in the numbers I expect for this time of year. For a shot at the few larger daytime bass, you would likely need to drag wire with ‘chutes, but the diamond jigs aren’t doing anything except picking up the rare schoolie when present because the fish are so scattered.
- Baitfish: Bunker are absent from the Branford area and have been for months. This is very discouraging to see. In years past, they were thick in the rivers and harbors at this time. This may be one reason we’re not seeing the larger bluefish and stripers in the area. That said, however, our reefs are packed with clouds of small baitfish — stuff in the 1- to 3-inch range. Silversides, some peanut bunker and bay anchovies. I’m sure this is what brought the albies into our area (although that was likely a fleeting fishery, possibly only one day). It’s these tiny baitfish that have been keeping the harbor blues packed on the reefs and providing excellent sport on light tackle for the few anglers (very few) targeting them.