by Jerry Vovcsko
The August doldrums. Hard to tell if they're here or not, what with the passing thunderstorms often accompanied by sporadic micro bursts punctuated by lightning, thunder and wind gusts that threaten to recreate Dorothy's mid-air excursion with Toto and that cackling old biddy on the broom. But, yeah, it's safe to say that we're probably in the midst of that August slump when high water temperatures and high winds make it pretty tough to find striped bass available for the taking.
But no matter, because there are plenty of alternative choices. Now for instance is when the funny fish begin to swarm in to Cape waters, the bonito and the false albacore…the occasional Spanish mackerel and even a red drum now and then. There might be a weakfish turning up in Buzzards Bay or even a mahi mahi hooked somewhere around Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket and one year a local gent tied into a tarpon over near Harwich…and landed it! Two years ago a manatee took up residence in Cape Cod Bay, got caught not by fishermen but by fast-dropping water temperatures in October and had to be rescued and taken by truck back down to Florida. So, yeah, for a while now stripers will be scarce, especially in shallower waters, and anglers will need to find deeper, cooler waters to catch up with Mr. Linesides.
Bluefish, on the other hand, are everywhere and provide not just plenty of action, but very tasty fare for the grill when done to a turn over glowing coals and served up with a salad and a cold beer. Right now there are schools of four to five-lb blues cruising throughout Vineyard Sound and hitting anything that lands in their vicinity. Best all-around lure is a ¾ oz Kastmaster with the barb crimped down. Casts like a bullet, is virtually indestructible and doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replace if it gets bitten off by razor sharp bluefish choppers.
Speaking of getting-bitten-off, I should mention that for thirty-some years I've fished Cape Cod waters with 17-lb Stren line tied direct to the lure – no extraneous hardware such as swivels, snaps, wire leaders or split rings…as a guess, I might get bitten off once in twenty-five hookups by bluefish teeth and I've always felt that my hookup rate is much higher because of the simplicity of line-to-lure. Most of the time it seems the line ends up sliding between the bluefish's teeth and the single-hook metal slab makes removal a lot easier than trying to de-hook two or three flying trebles.
Albies and bonnies abound in the Sound right now and even shore casters and jetty jockeys get a shot at these speedsters when they come roaring past driving baitfish. I like the same metal slab lure although I drop down to ½ oz size for these funny fish. Mostly, I live for that first sizzling run when line melts from the reel as the fish heads for the horizon. They are good eating but they have to be bled immediately and iced or the flesh becomes mealy and inedible.
Fluke are on hand in Cape waters right now and tautog can be found in Buzzards Bay as well. The Weepeckett Islands and the rocky stretch around Cleveland Ledge make for prolific ‘tog catches and the Middleground and Lucas Shoal make for prime fluke-catching excursions. Scup and black sea bass fill out the local seafood menu and that's not even to mention the mako and thresher sharks that populate Cape Cod Bay and the edges of Stellwagen Bank. In short, doldrums or no, there's still great fishing to be had these days…it just takes a little extra work to find them and fill the creel.