by Jerry Vovcsko
Looks like one of those raw, rain-lashed dreary days today. Good time to stay home and get some of those honey-do inside jobs finally taken care of. Or maybe spend some time cleaning out my office...when was it I was last able to actually see the top of my desk for all the junk piled up on it? The garden tools could use some maintenance, and I really ought to sharpen the kitchen knives; my wife said she'd have better luck slicing tomatoes with a piece of broken glass than the dull blades nestled in the knife rack. Lots to choose from, which one to do? Heck with it, may as well go fishing.
No need to drive out to Nauset, Orleans or any of the back beaches right now. Lately they've been as dead as Cleopatra's cat. Maybe the offshore passing of Tropical Storm Hermine this week will stir up a little action. Chatham has been a bit more active but you pretty much need to be onboard a boat to do any serious business around there. Skip the Bathtub unless you're interested in small bluefish. The shallow waters in there are a mite warm for striper activity.
Provincetown is still pretty active up around Race Point especially. Sand eels are the order of the day and a few skiff trollers have been doing business with rubber-tipped jigs, although there's more to that technique than meets the eye. And I still urge folks to try the oldtimer's method of trolling a willow-leaf spinner rig, red beads and all, with two or three sandworms trailing from a 3/0 hook. Funny how such an effective method all but vanished from the scene. Maybe because trolling, for a lot of anglers, isn't nearly as much fun as chucking lures into the surf. But one thing I know, if you need a decent sized bass for the grill, there are two ways to pretty much guarantee success. One is, of course, the tube 'n worm. And the other, to my mind, is that willow leaf spinner rig. Pull that around real slow in close to any kind of bass structure - rocks, weed beds, a fast moving rip - and there's a real good chance you'll have bass for the grill.
There I go spinning off on fishy tangents again. The subject at hand, naturally, is: Where's a good place to find fish this time of year? Well, I'd say a good bet right now is the Cape Cod Canal. And the best way to go about it, especially for those folks not entirely familiar with the Canal, is jig and rubber. Specifically, depending on speed of the current going through there, a jig somewhere between an ounce and a half and four ounces. Hang a Sluggo on your jig - nine inch version, these are big fish that hang in the Canal - and try to get it down near the bottom by casting slightly upcurrent and retrieving just fast enough to keep from getting hung up on the rocks, lobster pots and other debris that litter the bottom. And bear in mind that if you aren't getting hung up and losing a jig or two, you probably aren't getting down deep enough. Lost jigs are simply the cost of doing business in the Canal.
If you don't have any favored Canal spots, try around the bridges, including the Railroad Bridge. There are some deep, current-scoured holes around there and the Large bass like to sit down there waiting for the tide to bring dinner along. Pick up a map of the Canal at one of the local bait shops - Red Top and Cape Cod Charlie's are two that come to mind. The map will show you where places like the Cribbin, Murderer's Row, One Hundred Steps, The Mussel Bed and others are located. Best time to hit it is just before or just after turn-of-tide when the slack water lets you get down deep and work your jig near the bottom. There's still fish to be had before the annual migration sends them south. Right now the Canal is a pretty good place to find them.
Recreational black seabass closed last week, unfortunately, but scup, tautog and flounder can still be found…Buzzards Bay continues as a prime source for groundfish. Albies and bonnies have taken up steady residence around Martha's Vineyard and the manatee cavorting around Harwich Harbor lends a surreal presence to this late season report. In case the idea of a manatee snuffling in the sea grass is not sufficiently weird, there was a report of a small barracuda taking a whack at a metal slab in Nantucket Harbor. I'm beginning to think we'll soon see tarpon and Goliath Grouper showing up if the ocean warming continues.
There's been good fluke fishing on the Middleground lately…some keepers to go with the little guys. Plenty of blues around and there are always a few keeper bass lurking in the holes along the western end of the reef; angler with a bit of patience and a stash of parachute jigs in their tackle boxes can score some major-league stripers by dropping a jig into those holes at the end of a well-aimed drift.
And Cape Cod Bay produced some keeper bass to boats working along Sandy Neck beach. A little further westerly is worth a look, especially around Scorton Ledge and even up inside Scorton Creek which happens to be one of the best locations in the Bay for a turn-of-tide kayak excursion. Ride the flood into the salt marsh and drift back out on the ebb; there are some seriously Large stripers hanging out up there where the water gets mighty skinny and a ‘yak is just the right conveyance to put an angler where the action is.