New England Fishing Roundup: 8.29.14

New England Boating Fishing Report for August 29, 2014 from the experts.

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

Maine

In the Casco Bay area, the crew of New England Boating TV picked up the following intel while filming the Portland episode of the show:

Photo/New England Boating
Photo/New England Boating

“Word from many of the local guides is that stripers are available and widespread, but that action can be spotty. Dawn remains the best time to score, of course, especially in the shallow rivers, coves and flats. Soft-plastics, small swimming plugs and stickbaits such as the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow are all producing in these areas, as are flies such as Clouser Minnows. The local anglers expect the daytime action to notch upwards as we head into September.

“Bigger fish are available along the exposed ocean shorelines, such as Cape Elizabeth, although the hurricane-generated swells will make this a dicey proposition for the next few days. Big bluefish have also shown up in deep water off Scarborough and the Saco River.”

Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers in Rowley said there’s been a major bluefish influx from roughly Nahant all the way north over the last week or so, with a spread of sizes available. Larger fish—anywhere from 7 to 15-plus pounds—have been hot on the tails of roving bait schools from Nahant up to Boston Harbor, while a second shot of fish underwrote some wide-open action in Ipswich Bay earlier in the week. More blue have been taken in front of Plum Island as well as in 180’ of water towards the Isles of Shoals, where guys trolling Rapala X-Raps and the old standby CD-18’s, along with larger bucktail jigs and other deeper-running plugs that have gotten the attention of the choppers. The fish have typically been hanging deep, somewhere between 25’ and 40’.

Tuna, photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.
Tuna, photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.

On the striper side, a bumper crop of 3” to 4” silversides have created some wild low-tide surface feeds off Cranes Beach and out in front of Plum Island, with smaller topwaters and small, unweighted Slug-Go’s matching the feed nicely. For bigger bass, the daytime fishery has been in the dumpster for the most part, but folks slow-trolling live eels to zero in, then drifting same, have managed some quality fish into the 30-pound class, especially around Cape Ann (Manchester to Magnolia) and also out in front of Plum Island.

School tuna reports have come up a few notches over the last week or so, though most of the activity has been much further afield than folks have gotten used to the last few seasons. Fish, most of them in the 60”-plus range, have made sporadic appearances around Wildcat Knoll, off in the deep water east of Stellwagen, and from the SW Corner down toward Peaked Hill. The giant fishery continues at a slow-and-steady pick on the four points of the compass rose, a fish here and a fish there for the folks putting in the time and enduring more skunkings than tickertape parades.

Codfish will be on the “off-limits” list on September 1, much to the chagrin of a charter fleet fast running out of viable fisheries on which to turn a short-season buck.

Massachusetts—South Shore

 

Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson
Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson

Pete at Belsan Bait called it a pretty bleak picture along the South Shore, especially with the looming codfish closure on September 1. There have been some blues, including bigger ones roaming with the bait schools out in the 40’ to 50’ depths out front, but bass fishing is a mighty tough go for just about everyone—the fish are scattered and not even as large as the sporadic catches were earlier in the season. There are droves of peanut bunker fueling some decent schoolie fishing in Scituate, Cohasset and Duxbury, as well as the local estuaries.

Tuna reports have been pretty close to nonexistent, leaving shark fishing as about the only big-game game in town. Water temps around Scituate touched 70 degrees earlier in the week, but there’s no telling what the northerly winds will have done to that by the time you read this.

Cape Cod

Paul at Blackbeard’s said the fishing in his neighborhood has been coming up a bit light in the excitement column. Chatham seems to have crapped out in a big way since last week, as the beaches are now dirty and more or less devoid of fishermen. The big news as of Thursday afternoon was a whopping 8 sublegal bass for one of the charter boats.

Fluke reports from the Sound have been pretty quiet. For big blues, P-town has been producing. Tuna reports have been mighty spotty. Here’s hoping things bounce back in the ninth month.

AJ at Red Top noted some of the commercial bass guys have been drifting live eels around Plymouth Harbor and Scortons, others at intervals along the Elizabeth Islands, including Quicks Hole.

Provincetown—what AJ called “this year’s Chatham”—has slowed at least for the time being, and Chatham has been dead after a brief flurry of better fish out front more than a week ago at this point. On the plus side, fishing at Handkerchief Shoal off Monomoy has seen good numbers of bass in recent days. Fluke reports have been nonexistent, but there have been some bluefish making sporadic appearances in and around the Canal.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & South Coast

“Thank god for the bluefish,” was Coop’s thought when I checked in with Coop’s Bait and Tackle late Thursday afternoon. The blues have been more or less everywhere, most notably along the east and west sides off the island, and some of them have been big—from 10 pounds up. The bonito fishery has been sporadic, with most of the fish coming from the Hooter area, which also has tons of bluefish.

Scup, photo/New England Boating.
Scup, photo/New England Boating.

There are still a few quality fluke around for the picking in the shoal water off Chappy, and scup and sea bass remain plentiful on most of the harder pieces of real estate. No confirmed reports on albies just yet, and tuna action has been down thanks to the recent wind. Word has it the night bite has shaped right up from the Fishtails to the Dip over the last week, but the daytime troll bite has been pretty close to abysmal, barring the occasional mahi or albacore.

The action—or lack thereof—has been equally pathetic in Buzzards Bay, but that isn’t keeping the die-hards from burning fuel in search of bonito and false albacore. Indeed, some albies sightings were reported along the Elizabeth Islands and Vineyard Sound in recent days, and bonito catches were confirmed off Westport and Sakonnet Point. At the very least there are lots of small blues and small bottom fish to entertain the kids in Buzzards Bay.

Rhode Island

Sam Toland at Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown was pleased to report some confirmed blitz activity as of late Thursday afternoon from Fort Adams down toward Hammersmith and Castle Hill. Capt. Robbie Taylor found a mix of blues, schoolie bass, and some welcome green bonito blowing up in the small bait—the first report of any solid tunoid action anywhere in more than a week.

Folks still fishing Block Island are managing a heavyweight bass here or there, but it’s nowhere near what it was a month ago.

Fluke seem to have evacuated Narragansett Bay, but guys are still chipping away at them in the 70’ to 90’ depths out in front of Ocean Drive. There are also big scup and sea bass on most of the hard pieces.

There has been some confirmed night-bite activity out in the canyons, especially from the Fishtails westward to the Hudson—good news at a point when it’s been in short supply. Local striper results have been sporadic at best.

 

Bonito, Photo/New England Boating
Bonito, Photo/New England Boating

Matt at Snug Harbor said the wind and ground swell put a pretty serious damper on most of the inshore activity the second half of the week, but noted the northerly breeze may well have cleaned things up a bit by the coming weekend.

The fluke bite fizzled right out on the East Grounds with a massive amount of weed in the water. The striper bite has been fair on the Southwest Corner, with bluefish galore in the mix now. Most folks are eagerly awaiting the big bump in the sea bass limits when the bag goes from 3 fish up to a whole 7 as of September 1.

There have been reports of some cooperative bonito in front of New Harbor on the west side of Block. The giant guys working amid textbook conditions in the Mud Hole for at least a week have seen some interesting signs of life, including some school tuna taking chum around one boat one day, but no one has connected with a giant thus far. Last guys who headed out to Coxes looking for cod got dogged up beyond repair at the Mountain, then scraped together a respectable take of market-sized fish working the Southeast Corner. The daytime troll out in the canyons has been very tough going, but there have been confirmed reports of some very good nighttime chunking action on yellows, albies and even a bigeye or two.

Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters called it a ho-hum week of fishing in his area, with the striper action about dead on the reefs. The main positive news he had was of some cooperative bonito taken off the west side of Block, and some quality black sea bass piled up around Ragged Reef among many other rockpiles, reefs, and wrecks as we come up on the big 7-fish bag limit bonanza on 9/1. Scup are still big and plentiful around Sugar Reef among other places.

Connecticut—East

“Q” at River’s End has observed that there’s been a major increase in the number of guys trying their hands at carp fishing in the Connecticut River—a pretty telling bit of intel given the number of guys wringing their hands over the striperless striper fishery out in the Sound. There are, to be fair, some blues in the lower River and out on Six-Mile Reef, as well as across the way at Plum Gut and Pigeon Rip, but the Race has been conspicuously slow to date.

Fluke fishing is abysmal, but there are some jumbo scup around on the pieces that haven’t been hammered on for months. No bonito reports, barring rumors of some action around Block Island.

Connecticut—West

Rick Mola and crew at Fisherman’s World said a 17-and-change bluefish took the top slot in this year’s WICC; best fish that hit the scales at the shop was a 13.5-pounder taken from deep water out front. Mola noted the best bet for some bigger blues and the occasional bass is to work the 80’ to 115’ depths in the 11B-28C-Budds Reef area, where incoming tides have produced some good results for both diamond jiggers and guys chunking fresh bunker.

Fluke are headed out, but scup and sea bass are still going reasonably strong. This is the time to start thinking about a trip to the canyons, now that there’s a decent night-chunking bite shaping up between the Tails and the Dip. One of his regulars came through with news of some nice yellows and a bigeye over 250 from the Tails on Tuesday or so.

New England Boating Fishing Report for August 29, 2014 from the experts.

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

Maine

In the Casco Bay area, the crew of New England Boating TV picked up the following intel while filming the Portland episode of the show:

Photo/New England Boating
Photo/New England Boating

“Word from many of the local guides is that stripers are available and widespread, but that action can be spotty. Dawn remains the best time to score, of course, especially in the shallow rivers, coves and flats. Soft-plastics, small swimming plugs and stickbaits such as the Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow are all producing in these areas, as are flies such as Clouser Minnows. The local anglers expect the daytime action to notch upwards as we head into September.

“Bigger fish are available along the exposed ocean shorelines, such as Cape Elizabeth, although the hurricane-generated swells will make this a dicey proposition for the next few days. Big bluefish have also shown up in deep water off Scarborough and the Saco River.”

Massachusetts—Boston & North Shore

Nat Moody at First Light Anglers in Rowley said there’s been a major bluefish influx from roughly Nahant all the way north over the last week or so, with a spread of sizes available. Larger fish—anywhere from 7 to 15-plus pounds—have been hot on the tails of roving bait schools from Nahant up to Boston Harbor, while a second shot of fish underwrote some wide-open action in Ipswich Bay earlier in the week. More blue have been taken in front of Plum Island as well as in 180’ of water towards the Isles of Shoals, where guys trolling Rapala X-Raps and the old standby CD-18’s, along with larger bucktail jigs and other deeper-running plugs that have gotten the attention of the choppers. The fish have typically been hanging deep, somewhere between 25’ and 40’.

Tuna, photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.
Tuna, photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.

On the striper side, a bumper crop of 3” to 4” silversides have created some wild low-tide surface feeds off Cranes Beach and out in front of Plum Island, with smaller topwaters and small, unweighted Slug-Go’s matching the feed nicely. For bigger bass, the daytime fishery has been in the dumpster for the most part, but folks slow-trolling live eels to zero in, then drifting same, have managed some quality fish into the 30-pound class, especially around Cape Ann (Manchester to Magnolia) and also out in front of Plum Island.

School tuna reports have come up a few notches over the last week or so, though most of the activity has been much further afield than folks have gotten used to the last few seasons. Fish, most of them in the 60”-plus range, have made sporadic appearances around Wildcat Knoll, off in the deep water east of Stellwagen, and from the SW Corner down toward Peaked Hill. The giant fishery continues at a slow-and-steady pick on the four points of the compass rose, a fish here and a fish there for the folks putting in the time and enduring more skunkings than tickertape parades.

Codfish will be on the “off-limits” list on September 1, much to the chagrin of a charter fleet fast running out of viable fisheries on which to turn a short-season buck.

Massachusetts—South Shore

 

Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson
Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson

Pete at Belsan Bait called it a pretty bleak picture along the South Shore, especially with the looming codfish closure on September 1. There have been some blues, including bigger ones roaming with the bait schools out in the 40’ to 50’ depths out front, but bass fishing is a mighty tough go for just about everyone—the fish are scattered and not even as large as the sporadic catches were earlier in the season. There are droves of peanut bunker fueling some decent schoolie fishing in Scituate, Cohasset and Duxbury, as well as the local estuaries.

Tuna reports have been pretty close to nonexistent, leaving shark fishing as about the only big-game game in town. Water temps around Scituate touched 70 degrees earlier in the week, but there’s no telling what the northerly winds will have done to that by the time you read this.

Cape Cod

Paul at Blackbeard’s said the fishing in his neighborhood has been coming up a bit light in the excitement column. Chatham seems to have crapped out in a big way since last week, as the beaches are now dirty and more or less devoid of fishermen. The big news as of Thursday afternoon was a whopping 8 sublegal bass for one of the charter boats.

Fluke reports from the Sound have been pretty quiet. For big blues, P-town has been producing. Tuna reports have been mighty spotty. Here’s hoping things bounce back in the ninth month.

AJ at Red Top noted some of the commercial bass guys have been drifting live eels around Plymouth Harbor and Scortons, others at intervals along the Elizabeth Islands, including Quicks Hole.

Provincetown—what AJ called “this year’s Chatham”—has slowed at least for the time being, and Chatham has been dead after a brief flurry of better fish out front more than a week ago at this point. On the plus side, fishing at Handkerchief Shoal off Monomoy has seen good numbers of bass in recent days. Fluke reports have been nonexistent, but there have been some bluefish making sporadic appearances in and around the Canal.

Massachusetts—Martha’s Vineyard & South Coast

“Thank god for the bluefish,” was Coop’s thought when I checked in with Coop’s Bait and Tackle late Thursday afternoon. The blues have been more or less everywhere, most notably along the east and west sides off the island, and some of them have been big—from 10 pounds up. The bonito fishery has been sporadic, with most of the fish coming from the Hooter area, which also has tons of bluefish.

Scup, photo/New England Boating.
Scup, photo/New England Boating.

There are still a few quality fluke around for the picking in the shoal water off Chappy, and scup and sea bass remain plentiful on most of the harder pieces of real estate. No confirmed reports on albies just yet, and tuna action has been down thanks to the recent wind. Word has it the night bite has shaped right up from the Fishtails to the Dip over the last week, but the daytime troll bite has been pretty close to abysmal, barring the occasional mahi or albacore.

The action—or lack thereof—has been equally pathetic in Buzzards Bay, but that isn’t keeping the die-hards from burning fuel in search of bonito and false albacore. Indeed, some albies sightings were reported along the Elizabeth Islands and Vineyard Sound in recent days, and bonito catches were confirmed off Westport and Sakonnet Point. At the very least there are lots of small blues and small bottom fish to entertain the kids in Buzzards Bay.

Rhode Island

Sam Toland at Sam’s Bait and Tackle in Middletown was pleased to report some confirmed blitz activity as of late Thursday afternoon from Fort Adams down toward Hammersmith and Castle Hill. Capt. Robbie Taylor found a mix of blues, schoolie bass, and some welcome green bonito blowing up in the small bait—the first report of any solid tunoid action anywhere in more than a week.

Folks still fishing Block Island are managing a heavyweight bass here or there, but it’s nowhere near what it was a month ago.

Fluke seem to have evacuated Narragansett Bay, but guys are still chipping away at them in the 70’ to 90’ depths out in front of Ocean Drive. There are also big scup and sea bass on most of the hard pieces.

There has been some confirmed night-bite activity out in the canyons, especially from the Fishtails westward to the Hudson—good news at a point when it’s been in short supply. Local striper results have been sporadic at best.

 

Bonito, Photo/New England Boating
Bonito, Photo/New England Boating

Matt at Snug Harbor said the wind and ground swell put a pretty serious damper on most of the inshore activity the second half of the week, but noted the northerly breeze may well have cleaned things up a bit by the coming weekend.

The fluke bite fizzled right out on the East Grounds with a massive amount of weed in the water. The striper bite has been fair on the Southwest Corner, with bluefish galore in the mix now. Most folks are eagerly awaiting the big bump in the sea bass limits when the bag goes from 3 fish up to a whole 7 as of September 1.

There have been reports of some cooperative bonito in front of New Harbor on the west side of Block. The giant guys working amid textbook conditions in the Mud Hole for at least a week have seen some interesting signs of life, including some school tuna taking chum around one boat one day, but no one has connected with a giant thus far. Last guys who headed out to Coxes looking for cod got dogged up beyond repair at the Mountain, then scraped together a respectable take of market-sized fish working the Southeast Corner. The daytime troll out in the canyons has been very tough going, but there have been confirmed reports of some very good nighttime chunking action on yellows, albies and even a bigeye or two.

Mike at Watch Hill Outfitters called it a ho-hum week of fishing in his area, with the striper action about dead on the reefs. The main positive news he had was of some cooperative bonito taken off the west side of Block, and some quality black sea bass piled up around Ragged Reef among many other rockpiles, reefs, and wrecks as we come up on the big 7-fish bag limit bonanza on 9/1. Scup are still big and plentiful around Sugar Reef among other places.

Connecticut—East

“Q” at River’s End has observed that there’s been a major increase in the number of guys trying their hands at carp fishing in the Connecticut River—a pretty telling bit of intel given the number of guys wringing their hands over the striperless striper fishery out in the Sound. There are, to be fair, some blues in the lower River and out on Six-Mile Reef, as well as across the way at Plum Gut and Pigeon Rip, but the Race has been conspicuously slow to date.

Fluke fishing is abysmal, but there are some jumbo scup around on the pieces that haven’t been hammered on for months. No bonito reports, barring rumors of some action around Block Island.

Connecticut—West

Rick Mola and crew at Fisherman’s World said a 17-and-change bluefish took the top slot in this year’s WICC; best fish that hit the scales at the shop was a 13.5-pounder taken from deep water out front. Mola noted the best bet for some bigger blues and the occasional bass is to work the 80’ to 115’ depths in the 11B-28C-Budds Reef area, where incoming tides have produced some good results for both diamond jiggers and guys chunking fresh bunker.

Fluke are headed out, but scup and sea bass are still going reasonably strong. This is the time to start thinking about a trip to the canyons, now that there’s a decent night-chunking bite shaping up between the Tails and the Dip. One of his regulars came through with news of some nice yellows and a bigeye over 250 from the Tails on Tuesday or so.