As we enter August, anglers pray for days less sweltering, and life stills for many. The summertime elation of June and July begins to fade as students prepare to head back to the classrooms, and both freshwater and saltwater bass are laid up in their summer homes. This week, our team at OTW has been gifted with fishing success. Video Production intern Matt Foley found some sipping stripers and made a few fly rod connections this weekend. Matt, a devout member of the saltwater fly-fishing church, has been picking up stripers in Cape Cod Bay all summer long.
Meanwhile, Assistant Editor Matt Haeffner has been putting in the hours on the South Cape surf this week. His efforts have been met with some healthy school bass like the one pictured below.
Bass of this size can produce a white-knuckled duel when caught on light tackle; here, Matt used his trusty seven-foot Fenwick Inshore combo to pull some cruising bass from the flats. Topwater spooks and small poppers are getting it done around first and last light. The water is too warm for bass under a beating midday sun, and low light conditions provide them with cooler water and coverage in the shadows to ambush prey.
At this point in the summer, warm water flats hold much more than just striped bass. Matt also encountered a handful of keeper fluke on his evening escapades. Just look at the masterful mimicry these fish possess; they can hide easily but when they choose to shed their sandy cloak they eat with aggression!
Fishing with the same light setup he used for stripers, Matt uses small jigs—under a half ounce— with a Gulp trailer to target fluke in shallow water. These bright and odoriferous artificial baits work like magic when fished in in areas with slow-moving current. Due to the array of small baitfish inundating much of the south Cape, the 4-inch swimming mullet seems to be the key to success.
And Cape Cod’s freshwater fishing is nothing to scoff at this late in the summer. Find yourself on the right side of a storm front and largemouth and smallmouth could be feeding ravenously. OTW’s Patrick Washburn has been unearthing some hefty post-work largemouth from the summer muck this week.
I have been patrolling to my favorite outer Cape kettle ponds on recent evenings and have been repaid with plenty of greenbacks (not the kind you put in your wallet). This chunky largemouth smashed a white spinnerbait slowly rolled past his grassy lair. Although, my awkward foot-balanced kayak selfie clearly needs some retuning.
Whether wading a bass pond or chunking in the ditch, fish around the Cape are hungry and enjoying the plethora of bait in Cape Cod’s summer waters. For the latest on where to find your favorite species, the Cape and Islands’ finest tackle shops and charter captains have the know-how.
First, East End Eddy Doherty reports sparks of life among a recently slowed Cape Cod Canal bite:
“Small stripers were riding a west tide while chasing scattered schools of small whiting near the Sagamore Bridge and the power plant in the early afternoon. Some fish measuring slot plus were caught on white poppers in the east end during a topwater bite. The railroad bridge neighborhood gave up some nice fish, a 30-pounder in the heart of the Combat Zone and another the same size at the first cement block, all on mackerel chunks at midafternoon during the west tide. The chunking success continued that night closer to the Bourne Bridge with three large slots landed and a few more on soft plastic jigs. A couple of slots were caught at the herring run with white Magic Swimmers and hungry bluefish were on a pod of small baitfish as the tide headed east.”
Canal Bait and Tackle of Sagamore parroted the recent chunked mackerel successes in the ditch. Some bluefish have been feeding in the east end and the railroad bridge faithful have come up with some quality striped bass.
Maco’s Bait and Tackle in Buzzard’s Bay was ecstatic about the continuation of the Plymouth pogy clinic. When they have been able to fire up the boats, their team has had great success in the western Cape Cod Bay pulling stripers off massive pogy schools. Maco’s has also seen productive fluke fishing on the Mashnee flats, Cleveland’s Ledge, and outside the Canal’s eastward mouth.
Patriot Party Boat of Falmouth has been lighting up the scup as of late. Keeper seabass are becoming harder to find but the scup is keeping dinnerplates full. Their sportfishing trips have been traveling out to the Muskeget Channel and catching loads of bluefish. Excitingly, they reported a Bonita catch close to Bonita Bar, which will hopefully be teeming with its namesake fish soon.
Red Top Sporting Goods reports chunk baits have been fooling stripers in the Canal’s railroad bridge neighborhood. They also parroted the talks of rewarding fluke fishing around the Mashpee flats and east of the canal.
Sports Port Bait and Tackle of Hyannis cited stripers chasing sand eels on the northside beaches and some beastly bluefish caught off Race Point. On the southside, Monomoy is still holding striped bass, but the quantity and quality are not on par with past weeks. The beaches surrounding Hyannis harbor have seen some sizeable brown sharks dragged in. A bucket full o’eels usually does the trick when fishing for these invigorating and toothy predators.
Cape Cod Charter Guys’ Captain Ross reported tons of stripers and blues caught amid the infamous Plymouth pogy-fest (Not related to OTW’s Striperfest, coming September 24th). When he finds a thick pogy school, Capt. Ross knows big bass can’t be far behind. Snagging a pogy to live line has been producing many keepers for them and their clients. While live lining, they will cast X-raps or walk-the-dog style topwaters toward boiling fish. This way, two pieces of the water column are covered.
From Fishsticks Charters on Martha’s Vineyard, Captain Kurt Freund reports:
“This week, we’ve spent most of the time fishing the shoals in Nantucket Sound and we’ve enjoyed good fishing for bluefish, black sea bass and an occasional fluke, with sea bass the most dependable of the three. One very productive outing found us casting small jigs into a rip where birds were diving on small baitfish. We expected the fish sipping those small baitfish to be bluefish, but they were all black sea bass, aggressively smashing our jigs for about an hour. On other trips, there were bluefish mixed in with the sea bass. We’ve had success casting swimming plugs and topwater plugs as well as epoxy jigs and soft plastics on small jigheads. At least in shallow water, the soft plastics on small jigheads seem to be the most versatile, as you can retrieve quickly to work them near the surface for bluefish or drop them to the bottom to jig for sea bass and fluke. After a week of half-day trips spent in Nantucket Sound, I had a 6-hour trip today, so we decided to use the extra time to travel farther and we headed up island and around to Squibnocket. On the way out, the sun warming my back instead of my face felt different and strange, like a new adventure. Luckily, this adventure turned out to involve a lot of big fish. We saw more shearwaters than I’d ever seen in one place and under those birds were schools of sand eels. And stalking those sand eels, there were bluefish up to 14 pounds which we caught on trolled deep-divers and cast swimmers and topwaters.”
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain around Cape Cod and the Islands!
Cape Cod Fishing Forecast
This week, look for fish to hold those summer feeding patterns and be chewing despite the late summer heat. For the striped bass faithful, get your boats out to Plymouth or Race Point, which have recently been producing the most consistent bass fishing. Race Point may be a productive destination for surfcasters as well. Reports of some beastly bluefish and a few stripers have been heard from Cape Cod’s outermost beach. The Canal is still alive with bait, bass, and bluefish. This late in the summer, though, these fish become much more selective and have been taking mostly chunk or live baits recently. The southside has been holding tons of bait close to shore. The arrival of abundant spearing, sand eels, and other small baitfish could entice some stripers and blues closer to shore in the coming weeks. Brown sharks cruise the waters of the Cape’s south shore at night and can produce some epic battles. Largemouth fishing is in full summer swing and everything from frogs to minnow imitations are catching them.
Stay safe and tight lines!