The Weekly Bite: September 5-10

Illustration courtesy ## Fished Impressions##

While Earl proved to be a dud (thank goodness), the powerful west winds of last weekend served to stir up the waters almost as badly as a hurricane. These, of course, were followed by strong southwesterlies into mid-week, which kept a lot of folks off the water. So again, reports are limited, but here’s what we were able to dig up.


Craig Bergeron writes on the Saco Bay Tackle website:

  • “The inshore fishing is starting to pick up again. We have had promising reports from surf fishermen over the past few days. The stripers are in the rivers now feeding on small silversides, and the bluefish are pounding the spike mackerel along the beaches. Keith Hall from Maine Coast Guide Services hammered the blues this past week with excited clients. Our good friend John Hall fished off of Scarborough beach yesterday and landed a couple of blues and a striper with his fly rod.
  • Capt. Cal Robinson is still having great success catching slot-size stripers along Biddeford Pool and the Saco River, but his wife Amy caught beauty the other day measuring 42”.
  • The mackerel fishing is not as easy, due to the monster blues that are swimming in Saco Bay. Try around the red can off of Wood Island. This spot seems to hold the macks when you can’t find them elsewhere. Make sure to bring a small quart or flat of chum. Chum works so much better, and will hold the fish when you do find them.
  • The offshore report has been quiet this week with the wind and heavy seas. The tuna have moved around a bit this past week. I have had good reports from Scantum Basin, Seguin, Monhegan Island and places farther north. If you find herring, the tuna fish should not be far away. We should have decent weather Monday or Tuesday for the tuna fleet to head back out. Remember, we still have plenty of time, and Sept./October are usually red hot for offshore fishing.”

Kittery Trading Post reports:

  • “One of the good results of the ‘non-hurricane’ is the fact that there didn’t seem to be much disruption of the coastal fisheries in general, with most species seeming not to miss a beat. While huge waves made it tough for a couple of days, fishing in the harbors and bays seemed to hold up with reports of some better striper fishing and plenty of bluefish rewarding those that did fish.” Much more info is available on the KTP site.
  • Bluefishing in the Boothbay area has remained productive, according to some of the local charter skippers. Fish up to 12 pounds are readily available along the western beaches and near the mouth of the Kennebec River, with trolled deep-diving plugs being the lures of choice.

New Hampshire

Rebecca Heuss, Marine Biologist with the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, offered the following:

  • “The blues are still here so they must not have read my last report or they would have disappeared for sure! These are nice-sized fish, too, not the little snappers you can find in the rivers. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any reports of them coming in close enough for you shore fishermen out there, but keep trying; it’s bound to happen one of these days. The most striper action lately has been down in the Hampton area; the river and harbor there have been producing lots of schoolies and some nice keepers as well. Groundfishing has stayed pretty good, some days slower than others, but overall everyone is doing well out there. Of course, it doesn’t really matter what I write because by the time this comes out that storm front will have passed through and everything will change! These cool nights may have fooled you, but there is still plenty of summer left and lots of fishing opportunities on the coast!”

Rocky at Hampton Harbor Tackle (603-926-1945) says:

  • The local headboats are doing very well with big pollock, as well as some cod and haddock, on Jeffreys Ledge. The majority of fish are being taken in 50-plus fathoms.
  • Blue shark action has been very strong, as well. Lots of tuna are being seen, but few caught.
  • The waters 4 miles off the beaches, in 80 to 95 feet, are holding lots of big bluefish. Most are being taken on chunks of herring, but occasional flurries of topwater action are possible.
  • School stripers are inside the river, with night and dawn being most productive times.


North Shore

  • Surfland on Plum Island reports that big blues have been available in 30 to 40 feet of water off High Sandy Dune. Trolling with deep swimmers has been most effective, although topwaters will work on occasion. Not much going on at the river mouth.
  • Peter at The Fin and Feather Shop in Essex says that local anglers are catching lots of big blues in Ipswich Bay lately. Inside the Essex River, small bass, with an occasional 35-incher thrown in, have been providing some decent action. He adds that Manchester Harbor is giving up some “decent bass” to anglers trolling tube-‘n-worms. Offshore, the Southwest Corner of Stellwagen seems to be producing the most consistent tuna action to anglers fishing live baits.

Boston Harbor

Pete Santini of FishinFinatics reports:

  • Chunk baits have been taking stripers in Hull Gut and off Deer Island, as well as Bob’s Triangle. Many fish are also being taken on live mackerel fished in the deep holes around the harbor. Trolling Santini tubes at high tide on the flats off Georges and Lovells Islands (in 12 to 20 feet of water) is also taking bass during the day. No real sign of surface action, although there’s plenty of bait in the form of juvi herring.
  • Big bluefish are available off the Graves. Lots of big fish are being taken on umbrella rigs and deep-diving plugs. Chunk baits are also producing.
  • Offshore, tuna are being taken occasionally on slow-trolled pogies, mackerel and whiting on the southwest and southeast corners of Stellwagen Bank. Kite-fishermen are also taking fish on live baits in these areas.
  • Apparently shark fishing has been hot, as well, with lots of big blue sharks and a smattering of threshers and makos to keep things exciting.

Cape Cod Bay

Capt. Terry Nugent of Riptide Charters reports from the tuna front:

  • “After ‘hurricane’ Earl (the monster storm that wasn’t) and the stiff wind of the last few days, we finally got back out and did some hunting for tuna. Pete and his crew were hoping to get their first tuna on spinning gear. With the sloppy weather and the lack of big concentrations of fish inshore I was hoping to be able to fill their wish, but I wasn’t sure.
  • “We splashed at o’dark thirty and headed out. There wasn’t much life and the wind was up higher than forecast. Not a good combination. We worked the area for a bit with a few buddy boats and finally one of the troll boats got tight. Despite pulling the hook, it let us know that there were fish around and we should pound the area a bit harder. After a few hours the life started to come together and the fish began to show once or twice on top. We found a group of birds that were worked really fast, but were obviously over fast moving tuna. I told the guys it was going to be a ton of work to set up on the fish moving that fast and they would have 15-20 setups before they would get a really clean cast on the fish, but if they trusted me we would get our shots. The guys braced themselves for the pounding and the spray as we ran to get ahead of the birds in the sloppy 3′ chop. Each time we got close the guys would fire casts in where we thought the fish were.
  • “After a few shots one of the guys had a fish boil on a Salty Needle. Close but no take. A few more setups and the Salty got crushed! But no hookup! Finally after a bunch of setups and several near misses, the Shibuki got wailed and we were tight! Unknown to us, the fish took the plug in an awkward manner that kept us from turning its head. This made fighting the fish tough, but the guys swapped off on angling duties and in 15-20 minutes I gaffed a nice fat 55-incher. This was the guys’ first spinning rod tuna and they did a great job on it.
  • “After a few pics and a bite to eat we got back at it. We had a lot more fish showing now, but they were ones and twos and never up for long. Finally the guys decided they had accomplished their goal and it was time to head for the barn.
  • “Final tally: several hits, 1 solid hookup and one 55-incher to the boat. The fish were on 3-4″ sand eels and krill based on the stomach contents of our fish._ The gear was a Shibuki swimmer, Stella/Big Gun combo and Streamline leader. Overall a great day OTW despite somewhat snotty conditions”
  • On the inshore grounds, striper fishing has been decent in the Barnstable Harbor area. Tube-and-worm combos are taking some good-sized bass, as well as big blues, when winds have allowed a trip.

South Shore

Capt. Dave Bitters of Baymen Charters in Duxbury posted the following on his website:

  • “After the ‘big hurricane’ that thankfully fizzled out as it passed by our bay, the fish stocks are way down—for the moment. We fished yesterday and found 4 fish in the bay. One was a small keeper, the others were shorts. Bird action was also pretty much nonexistent in Duxbury and Plymouth waters. This will change, and hopefully very soon. Fishing action prior to the storm was good to great and it will return as the fall striper blitz has to restart itself. I am very optimistic that we will see acres and acres of topwater striped bass and even blues in our bay again soon. All we can do today is watch and wait and search for the next pod of bass.”

Buzzards Bay

  • Not good. That’s the word around Buzzards Bay and the islands, at least as far as surface activity is concerned. The screaming west and southwest winds of the week haven’t helped either. There appears to be plenty of bait around, but little in the way of predators. Everyone was hoping for the arrival of false albacore this week, but it hasn’t happened. Just a few scattered pods here and there. Very little bluefish action to report either, save for some small fish around the islands.
  • Fluke fishing is of course closed for the year. Sea bass and scup are available around deep rockpiles, but the keepers will be found mostly in the cooler water around the Vineyard and in Vineyard Sound.

Martha’s Vineyard

  • Lest we forget, the 65th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby begins Sunday. Participants are reminded that will need to register with the federal government if they wish to target stripers during the tourney. Registration is free.
  • Reports from the Vineyard are few and far between due to all the crazy wind. No word on whether the albies are still around, and bass fishing seems to be limited to a night pursuit. Lots of bait, but not a whole lot of surface action.
  • Let’s hope things pick up soon for the Derby.

Rhode Island:

  • Similar to Buzzards Bay, word on the street (and water) has it that Narragansett Bay is dead too, save for scattered schools of small blues. Not much is likely to happen surface-wise when the water temps are still in the mid-70s.
  • Some big bass and blues are still being taken on the reefs off Newport, when wind and seas allow a trip. The Saltwater Edge in Newport reports that albies are occasionally popping up around the mouth of the bay, but nothing consistent.
  • To the west, a few bass are being taken at dawn along the South County beaches and off Charlestown Breachway. Night fishing with live eels from shore has produced some big fish as well.
  • Thom Pelletier at Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle says that fluking is pretty much done for the year. He confirms that action in Narragansett Bay is not stellar, although he had heard that some stripers were starting to be taken on chunks. Still no surface action to speak of, though.

Block Island:

  • Capt. Mitch Chagnon of the Sakarak emailed that fishing around Block Island has been severely limited by the wind. Certainly not many people have been able to fish offshore.
  • Chris Willi of Block Island Fishworks reports much of the same on his site, with the strong winds hampering small-boat action.
  • Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters reports that some of his customers who have been able to fish Block Island’s southwest reef found some nice bass to 33 pounds. Smaller bass have been taken in Fishers Island Sound, and there are some blues in the 8- to 12-pound range available off Quonny Beachway at night. Topwater action has been sparse, but there is a ton of bait around.
  • Zach Harvey just got back from a trip to the Block, and reports that the southwest reef is indeed on fire with lots of fish over 25 pounds. He added that scup fishing is great as well around the Block.


In the eastern sound, bluefish to 8 pounds have been busting off Fishers Island and North Dumpling, just south of Noank, providing light-tackle action.

The following came from Pat Abate and crew at Rivers End Tackle in Saybrook:

  • STRIPED BASS: With the winds keeping most boats close to the dock, we don’t have a lot of reports coming in this week. There has been a slight uptick in schoolie action along the shoreline as small bait is streaming out of the estuaries. A few better-sized bass were caught earlier this week as a couple of boats got out to Long Sand Shoal or Bartletts to drift bait. Adult bunker are still in the river, but hickory shad are absent here and Niantic. Word has come across the pond from Montauk that the fall schoolie blitz has started. Large balls of bay anchovies have invaded followed by acres of bass.
  • BLUEFISH: Still going strong and gaining weight. Angler who were able to get to the Gut and Race scored. Chunkers in the Connecticut River had a pick from shore and a better run out in boats. If you could get to Long Sand Shoal with fresh bait you could get some slammers. Watch Hill has some big blues after dark for surfcasters.
  • FLUKE: Closed in CT and NY, open in RI. The black sea bass season has been extended until October 11, and reopens from November 11 to December 31.
  • PORGIES: Again, a lot of boats didn’t venture out, but reports have been consistently strong to predict a strong finish to our limited season, which ends on September 26. Most local rockpiles have a mess of porgies.

From Rick Mola at Fisherman’s World in Norwalk:

  • Rick told us that the local waters have seen the arrival of false albacore in good numbers this week. The fish have been popping up on the eastern side of the Norwalk Islands, particularly east of Goose and Cobb Islands.
  • Bluefish into the mid-teens are also thick in the Sound. They are being taken inside the harbor, around the islands and as far north as the I-95 bridge. Topwaters plugs and natural baits are both producing. Striper fishermen are also getting them over the reefs on chunk baits intended for stripers.
  • On the striper front, bass in the 20-pound range are available to chunkers fishing the reefs in the Sound between the 11B and 28C buoys. Schoolies up to 32” are available at dawn and dusk on soft-plastics and poppers around the islands.