The Weekly Bite, September 19-24

Illustration courtesy ## Fished Impressions##

Weather continues to be a problem for consistent fishing, and the huge swells produced by Igor have not helped matters. Still no reports of fall blitzes, but it seems that coastwide, big blues are the headline act. We’ve been hearing about them from Maine to Norwalk, Connecticut, and so will you if you read the following report.


Craig Bergeron at Saco Bay Tackle says that the shop saw steady traffic this week, with plenty of hardcore surf and jetty fishermen buying clams and live eels.

  • “Live eels are the hot bait right now if you want to catch big stripers fishing in the surf. Don’t forget the Gamakatsu 5/0 live-bait hooks and 30-pound fluoro leaders.
  • “The bass are still in the Saco River. Troll a wine-red surgical tube tipped with a sandworm. As long as the weather is good you should be able to catch stripers till the end of October.
  • “The offshore report is quiet. Fishing is still good, but between all the bad weather, wind, and other late-summer activities I have a hard time letting you know what’s going on out there.
  • “Groundfishing has been quiet the past couple of weeks if you’re fishing inside, or at Tantas Ledge. Many legal cod and haddock have been taken off of Jeffrey’s Ledge, but no steakers or whale cod reported. Fishing should pick up though as the water cools and the fish get more active.
  • “Bluefin tuna fishing is still hit or miss. There’s some bait holding them close to shore in southern Maine. Live-lining a mackerel or stitching a dead one both work, but a live herring seems to be doing the trick when the fish are present. We still have the month of October to fish, so hang in there, This is a great time to be out.”

New Hampshire

The folks at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland report tons of bluefish from the mouth of the Piscataqua River into the upper areas of the river and into Little Bay. Both boat and shore fishermen are scoring from Rye to Hampton Harbor. The fish are big too, up to 30 inches long. Chunks of herring or mackerel are taking fish, as are trolled swimming plugs.

  • Cod and haddock fishing is hit-or-miss right now, although some fall Pollock are starting to show.
  • There are plenty of sharks, mainly blues, in the same areas that the people are going after cod and haddock and we’ve heard a lot of reports of people being cheated out of a nice cod or haddock by huge blue sharks. Also a few pollock seem to be mixing in with the groundfish.”
  • Dover Marine Sports says that there are a lot of small mako and porbeagle sharks in the tuna grounds inside of Jeffreys, causing headaches for tuna trollers using live baits.
  • Nice tuna are around but on the move. Current hot spots seem to be inshore of Jeffreys Ledge. Sizes are mixed: there are fish under 60 inches and a few over 80. Live mackerel, whiting and even bluefish seem to be the best baits.


North Shore

Capt. Scott Maquire of Summer Job Charters reports from Newburyport:

  • “The effects of hurricane Igor have finally left us and now we can get out to fish again!
  • “There are stripers around but most are being caught by the night shift. I have found some that are willing to eat soft plastics in the Ipswich and Parker Rivers, but not off the beach or at the Merrimack River mouth. Most have measured from 24 to 27 inches.
  • “Bluefish are still available the length of Plum Island. They run from the 11-incher I caught on Thursday to 10 pounds. I got as many as I wanted today before looking for stripers for my up coming charters.
  • “There is plenty of bait, probably spike mackerel, that just came near shore off High Sandy Dune. This is so recent that the bass and blues have not even found the bait yet. It could be the makings of some serious surface feeds!
  • “The dredging project was stopped for a couple of days due to a mechanical breakdown followed by huge swells from Igor. They have moved the equipment to the south side of the river. We can now enter and exit the river from the north jetty side, which is much safer.”
  • Other anglers have reported—what else?—huge bluefish and small bass outside of the mouth of the Essex River and along Coffins Beach, feeding on top. The bait was large.

Boston Harbor

Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics reports:

  • Boston Harbor is full of big bluefish that are being caught on both natural baits and chunks, as well as trolled plugs.
  • Plenty of stripers are available as well, with Santini Tubes taking keeper fish around Georges and Lovells Islands during the day. Santini and Maine guide Barry Gibson made a special night trip on Thursday with charter skipper Russell Burgess, and boated 6 fish to 30 pounds by trolling plugs in the rips of Boston Harbor.
  • Santini also reports that a huge mako was taken on a live pogy at the southeast corner of Stellwagen Bank.
  • Tuna are hitting off the southeast corner of Stellwagen, with live mackerel or live whiting being the bait of choice. Trollers are also catching them on squid bars.

South Shore

  • There have been scattered reports of some nice bass around structure in the Scituate area, as well as big blues busting bait on top as well.

Capt. Dave Bitters of Baymen Guide Service in Duxbury writes on his website that he encountered an epic bluefish blitz on Wednesday.

  • Birds over blues in Dux Bay. Photo by Capt. Dave Bitters.

    “Onboard this morning, I had repeat client Russ Pelham for a light-tackle charter. The southwest wind was cranking at 20 knots steady and it was pretty choppy. But my, didn’t big blues come pouring into the bay on the low tide rising! Insane numbers of blues in shallow water meant poppers on light tackle and scorching runs and long fights. Hundreds of birds were working over the rolling blues and we could count up to 60 blues in a pack going by the boat.

    A bluefish prize. Photo by Capt. Dave Bitters

    And they were ultra aggressive—attacking our poppers two or three or more at a time right up to the boat. Just slamming them! And the gear: they were destroying it as fast as I could rig it. We used 45-pound wire leaders and had some of the fish bite right through it. We had to back the boat down on at least 10 of the fish with the light tackle. We just could not budge some of them against the wind. Let me tell you, using light tackle (12 lb. and 15 lb. test) rods and spinning reels on these blues was an absolute blast!”

  • Dave Bitters took this striper on a pogy head. Photo by Capt. Dave Bitters

    Bitters also reports some action with small bass inside Duxbury Bay, along with some larger fish being taken on bait. In fact, Bitters caught a nice fish himself last Sunday on a pogy head near the Powder Point Bridge.

Cape Cod Bay

  • Tuna fishing has not been very good in the month of September, although a few fish are being taken on Stellwagen. Folks are still hoping for a good October, but it better turn on soon.

Buzzards Bay

  • Still slow in the bay, although signs of life have emerged from the west end of the Canal, as several fish in the 30-40” range have been taken there lately. One person reported getting some nice bass on soft-plastics off the Mass Maritime Academy. There is no shortage of bait, that’s for sure.
  • Was out on a windy Friday and saw nothing in Marion or Wareham area, then ran to the Canal and found tons of bait (and cormorants) in the west end, close to the big dolphins and across from the Maritime Academy. Suddenly the water exploded as a giant pod of albies started busting bait! Unfortunately, the fish moved very fast and soon disappeared. Never saw them again, but it was the first albie sighting in Buzzards Bay this year, at least for me.
  • Some other anglers near us were catching what looked to be decent-sized bass and blues on live bait fished on the bottom.

Martha’s Vineyard

Dick’s Bait & Tackle reports:

  • The surface activity has been sporadic, with some scattered pods of albies and bones reported off East and West Chops and Vineyard Haven; however, it’s far from a sure thing.
  • Some nice bass and blues are coming from the Gay Head/Devils Bridge area on chunk baits and eels, mostly. Smaller fish are being taken at night from shore on flies and lures.
  • Big blues are available at the Hooter Buoy, for anglers who can get out there.

Rhode Island

Narragansett Bay

We spoke with Capt. Jim White of White Ghost Charters, who said:

  • Huge swells and high winds have made it tough to fish the ocean waters this past week. Instead, he focused on the Bay, where he found decent action with school bass (24-30”) around structure, as well as some giant bluefish taken on live peanut bunker.
  • White also did some “variety” fishing with Berkely Gulp! baits on the bottom near the Jamestown Bridge, and wound up catching scup, sea bass, fluke, tautog and blues on the artificials—all on the same tide.
  • Albies have been around the mouth of the bay, and even into Newport Harbor on occasion.

Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle in Warwick told Tom Meade of the Providence Journal that tautog fishing has been very good, and that several 6-pounders have been recently landed. Hot spots included the waters off Hope Island, General Rock, Fox Island, Plum Beach light and Portsmouth. Green crabs and seaworms are the top baits.

Block Island

The ever-honest Chris Willi of Block Island Fishworks reports that the Block Island Inshore Fishing Tournament of last weekend saw great weather and a turnout of nearly 40 anglers. Over $1100 was raised for the National Children Cancer Society and Island youth charities.

The fishing was slow, however, with 9 fish weighed in.

Here are the results:

  • Bass Boat Bait: Don Smith: 33 lbs. 4 oz.
  • Bass Boat Plugs: Bob Boermeester: 19 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Blue Boat Troll: Dave Simkins: 11 lbs. 4 oz.
  • Blue Boat Plugs: Glenn Hastie 11 lbs. 14 oz.
  • Blue Boat Jr. Div.: Ian Fister 10 lbs. 5 oz.
  • Bonito Boat: Bob Boermeester 6 lbs. 11 oz.
  • Fluke: Don Smith 3 lbs. 7 oz.
  • Trifecta: Bob Boermeester w/ winning fish above and a blue at 10 lbs. 8 oz.



Pat Abate at River’s End Bait & Tackle emailed the following:

  • STRIPED BASS: Certainly the bass are keeping the fall run a secret. There’s been an improvement, although small in the bass activity this past week. Most of the action is still happening on the reefs at night. Long Sand Shoal has been good to eelers, and we did weigh in a trolled fish from Old Saybrook upwards of 40 pounds this week. Six Mile also has some bass for baiters. We also weighed in a 35-pound bass caught at Saybrook Point on bait. The Race has a daytime bite but not much after dark. The RI beaches and Watch Hill have some schoolies for the dusk and dawn crowd.
  • BLUEFISH: Reports have stayed pretty consistent over the past with concentrations in the usual haunts. Plum Gut and the Race have had some better than average sized blues. Long Sand Shoal has had some fish up to the mid-teens for size.
  • PORGIES: Excellent reports coming in from Bartletts, Hatchetts and most reefs. This Sunday, September 26, is the last day you can fish for them unless you’re on a party or charterboat.
  • BLACKFISH: Season opens next Friday, October 1. We will have crabs starting Thursday.
  • FALSE ALBACORE: It has been a rollercoaster ride all week. Montauk was good last week then down 2 days and up the next. Yesterday had a pick in front of the Light with as many boats as fish. The south side of Fishers has had consistent fish popping up, but not staying in one spot for very long. They’ve been up at Race Rock with the typical one or two casts a drift. Not a lot of news is coming from Watch Hill or the Sluiceway.

New Haven/Branford

I spoke with Butch DiMartino at Dee’s Bait & Tackle (203-562-7025) in New Haven:

  • He said that everyone was out porgy fishing before the season closes this Sunday. He said porgies are everywhere, even as far upriver as Thompson Bridge.
  • On the striper front, it has not been gangbusters, but some decent fish are being taken in the Quinipiac River.
  • Lots of big blues are available in the Sound, especially off the Branford Beacon.


In the western Sound, Nick at Fisherman’s World in Norwalk says:

  • Guys are still slamming the porgies at any structure spot in the Sound, with buoy “28” C giving up some good action.
  • Bass and big blues are still being taken at buoys 11B and 28C on diamond jigs and chunks.
  • Albie and bonito fishing has improved, with more fish showing up around the islands, particularly off Cockenoe Island and between Copps and Goose Islands.