Massachusetts Fishing Report- August 24, 2023

Peter Neal with big bluefish.
Peter Neal caught this big 35-inch Boston Harbor blue while chasing pogies over the weekend.

Free-falling water temperatures are lighting a fire under a number of species with increased feeding activity among stripers, blues, black sea bass, tautog and groundfish. The resident fish of yesterday are now given to roam as they heed the need to feed.

Massachusetts South Shore/South Coast Fishing Report

Ron with tautog
The author limited out on both black sea bass and tog while fishing a Tidal Tails Jig aboard the Little Sister.

Blackfish and black sea bass are bingeing in Buzzards Bay and a crab on the line won’t last long. On Tuesday my friend Captain Jason Colby took a reprieve from chartering and invited our friend Armindo Ramos and me on an exploratory trip to see if we could put some tog on the deck of the Little Sister. While geared up for the crab-crunchers I wasn’t expecting that the warm up act would be black sea bass. Ordinarily that would mean a change of gear but I was ready for all options thanks to one of the most versatile pieces of tackle I own, the Tidal Tails Jig’z jig. Paired with a Daiwa Saltist 4000 and Daiwa Proteus Inshore I was ready to take on all comers.
We began by casting towards the down-current side of a reef off Gooseberry Point where Jason expected that the black sea bass would be waiting in ambush. Onto the 1 ounce green/orange bean-shaped jig I put an orange Gulp Curly Tail Grub and promptly limited out on black sea bass. Next up – it was tog time! Near the mouth of the Westport River, on top of a wreck, Jason put us on a large pile of willing tautog. I simply replaced the grub with half a green crab and proceeded to limit out on white chins. The slim profile of this jig slices through the water, allowing the angler to lighten the offering considerably. Even in stiff current in water as deep as 45’ I never need more than a 1 1/2 ounce jig and more often than not stick with 1 ounces. Less bulk equals a more natural presentation which translates to more hits, less chances of snagging up and ultimately – a lot more fishing fun. Tidal Tails Jig’z was the first to come out with a tog jig that I know of and while there’s plenty of competition out there now, in my opinion they are still the best.

Dickie with 50-pound striped bass
Dickie with a 50 pound cow that took a pogy while fishing with Captain Brian Coombs.

Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing for the duration of the season will be splitting his time between Boston bass and blues and Buzzards Bay hard tails. The bookend to recent trips was exceptional as he put an 81 year old patron into a 50 pound Boston bass and during his recon trip in Nantucket Sound went 7 for 11 on the false albacore front. Regarding Boston his tip is that pogies and big bass are jammed into the North Channel. As for those funny fish down south, be prepared to switch up colors/casting jig sizes to match the forage. During his first trip it took an ID of the bait – bay anchovies – to match the feed and bring on the singing drags!

It may still be summer, but the “fall” run is on! Pete from Belsan Bait and Tackle in Scituate told me that it is bedlam all along the South Shore with both bass and blues joining in on the feed. Pogies in the Three Bays, peanut bunker in Scituate and possibly river herring fry in the North River are all instigating surface feeds. Shad baits, the tube-and-worm and umbrella rigs are all accounting for 10 pound blues and 25 pound stripers. Those umbrella rigs have been so effective that Pete has been taken to pestering 9er Rigs for more. All the predation has moved mackerel out to deep water, with all but Charlie chasers not caring.

What fishers do care about in deep water is cod! Beginning September 1st and lasting until October 31st, anglers will be able to keep one cod per person at a minimum of 22” in the GOM and state waters. Captain Mark Rowell of Legit Fish Charters has had personal experience with this as he has had to cull through market-size cod to catch haddock. The Stone Ledge area in 205’ of water is holding both species as well as slab Arcadian Redfish of 2-3 pounds! South Shore harbors such as Scituate are chock full of peanut bunker and silversides which is keeping stripers in check.

Greater Boston Fishing Report

There are a lot of ticked off anglers in Boston Harbor: no sooner did a slug of pogies move in than a purse seiner scooped up a huge portion of the school! However, according to Lisa from Fore River Fishing Tackle in Quincy some did escape the onslaught and can be found off Wollaston Beach and over towards the Fore River/Town River stretch.

Charlie Denker false albacore
Charlie Denker found that hard tails have been a hit aboard Get Tight Sportfishing in Nantucket Sound!

Captain Brian Coombs of Get Tight Sportfishing also tipped me off to a pile of pogies and big bass off the North Channel which is shades of last year! Proof of pogies is in the sudden shop sales of snag-trebles which had been languishing for most of the summer. Bass and blues have been shadowing the bait but have also been found by Bumpkin Island, Grape Island and Slate Island where they have been taken on a tube-and-worm. Shore anglers have also gotten into the fun with a good bite at Wollaston Beach, Webb Park and Fore River. As for cod, the ledges off Hull are littered with them making it a safe bet that it will be no problem for anglers to find their allotted fish beginning next week. There may be some signs that the first wave of river herring fry are beginning to migrate out of the Mystic River.

Amelia, Eli, and grandpa Paul with striped bass
Amelia and Eli recently showed grandpa Paul how to catch harbor stripers!
Salvy with his first schoolie
Salvy with his first schoolie he caught off Winthrop.

Pete Santini of Fishing FINatics in Everett told me that there have been some major surface feeds between the casino and the Tobin Bridge. Topwater spooks such as the Wahachi have been working well. Red Santini tubes have also been catching at Faun Bar, Broad Sound, Spectacle Island and Peddock Island. Fluke continue to be found off area beaches but you had better take advantage of them while you can because beginning in September they begin migrating to offshore haunts. Black sea bass, including a few keepers, have been caught while drifting between Hull Gut and Bumpkin Island.

Massachusetts North Shore Fishing Report

Tomo of Tomo’s Tackle in Salem said that on Thursday morning there was a major bluefish blitz between Misery Island and Eagle Bar as the fish were pushing large sea herring. Trolling Nomad DTX and Rapala CD18 plugs have been doing it for Tomo for 10 pound blues and bass up to 46”! The bass have been closer to Children’s Island. Salem Harbor is holding smaller fish which may be feeding on peanut bunker. As for the looming cod grab, Tomo suggests that angler’s try Newcomb Ledge, Saturday Night Ledge and Hills 47and 101.

Finn Hawley with a striped bass
Finn Hawley with a nice Cape Ann beach bass!

The best news regarding bass on the North Shore according to TJ from Three Lantern Marine is that while the commercial fleet is gone, the bass they were after are not! Even though blues are still around, mackerel have moved back in and can even occasionally be found in Gloucester Harbor. As for where the bite is best, find the effluence between a beach and a river and you will find both bass and blues.

The same can be said for Joppa Flats according to Liz from Surfland Bait and Tackle in Newburyport. That area had been hot for commercial anglers and while they are done for the season, bass are still abundant. She also said that anglers are once again playing the “I had the world record striper on” game as sturgeons have been inadvertently hooked and lost. Just a heads up should you mistakenly hook and land one, they are a threatened species and should not be taken out of the water even for a second. Bluefish are still a factor occasionally off the beach but more often while trolling in Ipswich Bay. Almost by the tide parking areas in the Parker River Wildlife Reservation are opening up for walk-on fishing. Authorities are issuing night permits for fishing after-hours. Sandy Point and Breaking Rocks are two of the more consistent striper producers in that area. The mouth of the Merrimack should get hot again also on a outgoing tide as water temperatures drop and herring fry begin to tumble out.

• Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Fishing Forecast

It’s no exaggeration that it’s as good as it gets out there right now! Along the South Coast from Nantucket Sound through the mouth of the Westport River false albacore are pounding bay anchovies while black sea bass and tautog are making short work of prey from below. Peanut bunker in the Scituate Harbor have lit the fuse on nearby stripers while out front from the Three Bays through Cohasset, bass and bluefish blitzes are commonplace. Despite the pounding pogies have gotten from the purse seiners in Boston Harbor, some have escaped with big bass taking notice in Quincy Bay and the North Channel. Along the North Shore bluefish blitzes are ongoing as they haul off on herring outside of Salem Sound. The reappearance of mackerel in Cape Ann has provided bait for big bass hunters who are finding beaches from Magnolia through the Merrimack River lacking commercial anglers but still holding commercial grade striped bass!

4 on “Massachusetts Fishing Report- August 24, 2023

  1. Steve

    Ron, what a report this week with so many species of fish easily reachable to fish for, The tough part is to choose a couple.I’m happy to see that blues are still around and that fluke are still around too. The last couple of weeks the water temps seem to have dropped dramatically where I’ve been fishing and the bait and bass seem to have moved. I’m hoping the biggins from up north pay us a visit when they start to move south.

  2. Joe

    For the past few seasons, while fishing off Cranes, I have seen fish of great size leap out of the water in the channel running along the channel from Sandy Point. My guess is that they are Sturgeon. Anyone here have a definitive answer? I never mark them, but they are there.

  3. Paul

    Joe, those could be sturgeon but are more likely either white sided dolphin or harbor porpoises.

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