Cape Cod Fishing Report- August 24, 2023

Albies are in thick from the south side out to Nantucket, Spanish mackerel join the party, and big bluefish are everywhere from the Canal to the Islands to Cape Cod Bay.

The old fisherman’s adage, “If it’s blown’, we’re goin’,” holds true for any angler with a hankering for hardtails. But, earlier in the week, strong winds out of the southwest, then the northeast, and now, a stiff south wind, jumbled the inshore scene and made bottom fishing just a bit more challenging. Weeds and mung are cluttering stretches of the Outer Cape surf, and in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds, certain beaches are awash with weeds and sea grass. It makes traversing the south side of Cape via pedal kayak frustrating, as every few minutes, my pedal drive became cluttered with wigs of seaweed and grass.

Amid the shifting winds and big swells, I did manage to catch my first albie of the season with Evan Eastman of Eastman’s Sport and Tackle in Falmouth as we bounced around Vineyard Sound in search of fish last Sunday. After a few hours of grinding it out in the wind around the south side of Cape, we took a bumpy ride across the pond and found a small group of fish feeding near shore around Oak Bluffs. The albies were picky, to say the least. Evan and I had several on-the-money casts that landed right in the feeds, and in most cases, our offerings were completely ignored. Finally, Evan tied into a good one that eventually made it boat side after several drag-ripping runs. It might have been the largest albie I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the hook popped moments before we were about to land it. We stuck around for a few more opportunities, trying to create space for ourselves away from other boats that were running up on the easily-spooked school of fish. Then, after downsizing my jig, I was able to connect after casting a 3/4-ounce bone-colored Fat Cow Minnow into the longest feed of the day.

Even with the wind and chop, finding cooperative albies was a challenge as they were under heavy pressure from a growing fleet of boats.

Evan got back out to the Vineyard the next day and put his father on his first albies of the season. There seem to be more fish around daily, but the bite changes with the shifting conditions. And although (in my opinion) it helps to have a little chop as opposed to flat-calm conditions, it’s worth finding some space to tuck out of the wind and look for bait if and when the fish aren’t showing on the surface.

Chiming in from Martha’s Vineyard, Captain Kurt Freund of Fishsticks Charters reported good mixed-bag fishing when the high winds haven’t kept him at the dock this week. While eager to chase down some albies and bonito, the skipper describes them as being spooky, fussy, and generally hard to find. On his half-day trips, Kurt has been able locate some smaller groups of fish popping up around State Beach, the Elizabeth Islands and south side of Cape Cod, but the fish are up and down so quickly that it has been difficult to get an accurate cast into them. On his Wednesday charter with John Grandin and his family, they found some schoolie stripers and bluefish along the Elizabeths, but the highlight of the week was his 6-hour trip with a fellow alumnus of Regis High School. With a little extra time, they were able to find some better fishing for bluefish around Squibnocket, although they were particularly picky toward jigs and surface lures cast in their direction. All of their blues were caught by trolling deep-divers.

Captain Kurt Freund shared this photo of fellow Regis alum, Colin Jost of SNL, showing off a big Squibnocket bluefish.

From the shores of the Nantucket, Rick Ramos shared the happenings in the Grey Lady surf and provided updates on the August Blues Tournament. Rick reported that albie fishing has improved with each tide, although the recent northeast winds shuffled things up a bit. He also said that Nantucket Harbor is seeing some good action for both albies and bonito as they continue to move in, and typical spots such as the Bonito Bar, Great Point Rip and the rips off of Sankaty continue to produce fish. On the south side of the island, surfcasting guide Tammy King shared that there has been some better bass fishing after the shift in winds, especially on topwater lures. Rick said albies and blues were pushing close enough to Smith’s Point for surfcasters to get tight on metals and resin jigs. He said there have also been blues on the east side of Great Point over the past week, but getting to them has been the greatest challenge since it has been choppy. In calmer conditions though, Rick said chum slicks left over from bluefish feeding frenzies have been visible on the surface, and you can even smell the carnage in the air.

The August Blues Tournament on Nantucket is in its third week with lots of big bluefish submitted this past week from both boat and beach, creating a competitive race for the final week ahead. You can view the leaderboard here. The week 3 winners of the Largest Bluefish category were:

  • Beach Division: (TIE) Tedy Bruschi 34 inches & Arthur Wullschleger 34 inches
  • Boat Division: Peter Hubbell 35.5 inches
  • Junior Division: Duke Kiriluk 35 inches
13 year-old Duke Kiriluk from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, connected with this 35″ blue on an Island X Lure while fishing with local surfcasting guide Tammy King.

The overall competition is still wide open with a week remaining in tournament action. Get out there and fish!

Tedy Bruschi with a 34″ blue caught on a Hogy Lures epoxy jig.

Back on the Cape side of the Sound, East End Eddie Doherty reports on the striper fishing in the Cape Cod Canal:

“The new moon did its job as schools of striped bass rode the east tide in from Buzzards Bay at first light. At one part of the Ditch or another they were chasing squid, peanut bunker, silversides, sand eels and adult macks. Veteran angler Mike Deryck of Blackstone landed 4 bass up to 35 inches with his large green mack Savage down deep and then fought a 10-pound bluefish to fruition that was swimming on top. Foxborough’s Bob Healy reeled in a 32-inch linesider on a 9-inch yellow pencil and Caus Vaneon, visiting from Brazil, brought a 35-inch striper to the rocks after exploring the bottom with a heavy yellow jig. Experienced Canal Rat Chuck Franks caught 7 linesiders up to 34 inches with a 4-ounce Al Gags blue/silver glitter jig on the bottom. The Boys of Summer —Tim “Hollywood” Petracca, “Paulie the Painter” Gravina and Bill “On the Grill” Prodouz—continued their successful season landing slots, 33-inch bluefish and bass up to 35 inches on loaded Red Fins and green mack pencils. This typist landed a 37-inch striper, mid Canal an hour into the early east tide, on a 3.5-ounce Striper Gear wacky mack Rocket.”

From Red Top Sporting Goods in Buzzards Bay, Connor Swartz told me that there are plenty of smaller stripers in the Canal, but there are some bruiser bluefish too. The bluefish bite has been separate from the stripers, though. Connor said they’re heading to the opposite ends of the canal that the stripers are in. When blues are in the east end, stripers are west, and vice versa. Bring extra tails for your jigs, because the blues on bottom in the east end are playing hard to get, surgically chomping down just behind the hook. He said Buzzards Bay is very quiet, but he also saw a video of a large surface feed down by Woods Hole, which is hopefully an indicator that albies and/or bonito are trickling into the southern end of the bay from Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands.

Up in Cape Cod Bay, Captain Ross of Cape Cod Charter Guys had to hang up on me because they were actively catching stripers and blues on top. He said they are getting bass in the upper 30-inch range with some blues of the same size class. With the recent northeast winds, the water temperatures in Cape Cod Bay are around 65 degrees, so the fish are feeding on top early in the morning and retreating to deeper water later in the day. They’re hoping to start chasing albies over the next week as albies make their way up into Buzzards Bay, so give them a call to book a trip for hardtails.

The guys over at Macos Bait and Tackle in Buzzards Bay reiterated that the fishing in the bay has been pretty slow due to high water temperatures. There are some keeper fluke still being caught in the southwest side of the bay, but at this point, anglers are just waiting for albies to move in in greater numbers. Meanwhile, there are schoolies in the Canal and tons of big bluefish that are feeding mainly on mackerel and maybe a few small schools of pogies. Jigging has been producing more, and bigger fish.

Amy at Sports Port Bait and Tackle in Hyannis told me that their employees, Ben and Tony, were out yesterday catching some big mahi south of the Islands; a nice change of pace from the usual chicken mahi found around there. Closer to home, Amy said albies are here in numbers. She went out with Morgan from the shop the past 3 mornings, and it’s been a mixed bag for them. One day they skunked, and then they found fish everywhere around Hyannis beneath the birds. There are scattered schools of albies and tons of small bluefish mixed in as well. Surprisingly enough, Amy said black sea bass were even taking their jigs as they burned them across the surface. You never know what you’ll pull from a blitz this time of year! Up on the Cape Cod Bay side, one of their regular customers, Rick, was getting 12-pound blues outside Barnstable Harbor on umbrella rigs. If you can get through the blues, there are also slot-size bass on the bottom taking soft-plastic eel imitators like Slug-Gos, Game On Duratech eels and Gravity Tackle GT eels. And, inside the harbor, there are schoolies being caught on bucktail jigs from the banks of the salt marshes.

Captain Cam Faria of Cambo Charters said that he hasn’t been out as much since tuna fishing died down, but he has been trolling up huge gator blues to 12 pounds on recent trips south of the Vineyard. There, he said sea bass fishing has also been lights out. It is a long drive, but Cam said that they’re feeding so aggressively, it would be easy to collect a recreational limit in one drift. Sounds like if you’re interested in a sea bass dinner over the next week, making the trip south would be well worth it. Other than sea bass trips, the skipper has his hands full with tuna charters the next few weekends until the commercial tuna season opens again on September 3.

Cape Cod Fishing Forecast

This weekend looks like it might be a wash. Friday’s forecast calls for rain and wind gusts up to nearly 40 m.p.h., and Saturday isn’t looking any less windy. Sunday will be the day to get out, with low winds and some sun in the forecast. If you manage to get out on the boat or in the surf, here are the best options for this weekend:

Albies are on the south side of Cape. From Cotuit east, there are pods of them crashing on peanut bunker, bay anchovies and silversides. Spanish mackerel are mixed in, and they give themselves away with acrobatic leaps from the water when chasing down schools of bait. To catch them, throw the same jigs you would toward bonito or albies, and try to keep it slightly sub-surface. In my experience, the Spanish macks are more willing to eat a fast-swimming jig rather than one skimming across the surface.

Bass and blues are in the Canal. Big bluefish are taking soft-plastic jigs and loaded pencils at the east end, while schoolie to slot bass are hanging toward the west end, feeding most actively in the morning. Mackerel seem to be the main forage. In Cape Cod Bay, Race Point still holds some big bluefish. Barnstable Harbor has blues out front that are slamming umbrella rigs and trolled deep-divers. Beneath them, stripers are eating soft-plastic eel imitations. Bring a few extras, because the blues will take those too, and they’ll be torn to shreds in no time. Inside Barnstable Harbor, the salt marshes are full of bait and surfcasters are catching on light bucktail jigs and topwater plugs in the morning and evening hours.

Sea bass fishing is great south of the Vineyard around Nomans, and they’re beginning to pop up in Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds as baitfish continue to file in. On August 28th of last year, my buddies and I had one of the best days of sea bass fishing that I have ever experienced from the kayak while jigging epoxies on the south side near Mashpee and Cotuit. Earlier this week, while searching for albies, I jigged up some keepers off of Nobska in about 30 feet of water, and each fish had 3 or 4 followers of the same size with it. Fish near the rips in Vineyard Sound and you may be surprised by the amount of keeper sea bass closer to home.

Tuna fishing looks unlikely until Sunday. If you do find a weather window to go out, where the wind lays down a bit, err on the side of extreme caution. It sounds like there is still a good mix of bluefin and yellowfin tuna south of the Vineyard, and there are some larger mahi out there for the taking, too.

Inshore or offshore, wishing you all the best on the water this weekend. Be safe, respect each other and fish hard. Thanks for reading.

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