by Jerry Vovcsko
One of the intriguing aspects of fishing Cape Cod waters is the not-knowing what's tugging on your line until you reel it in. Sure, we can expect maybe striped bass, bluefish, fluke, sea bass, scup, bonito or false albacore. But anglers have occasionally been startled to find Spanish mackerel, mahi-mahi, wahoo and even lionfish stealing their baits.
And picture angler Chris Cavanaugh's surprise when the Norton, Massachusetts angler pulled a trophy-sized red drum – a southern species more commonly associated with Florida and the Gulf States – from the chilly waters of Buzzards Bay.
He was fishing from shore near his vacation rental, catching small scup on cut squid, when he ran out of bait and switched to a Berkley Gulp Shrimp. The red drum picked up the Gulp Shrimp and after a tough battle, Cavanaugh measured and released the 45-inch fish, not exactly sure what he had just caught.
Red drum are ordinarily a rare catch north of New Jersey, but at least two have been reported in New England waters in past 5 years. Some fishery scientists think that warming ocean waters may be one reason that red drum are venturing farther north.
Nantucket Sound has been alive with bluefish lately and the stretch of shoreline from Waquoit on over to Bass River continues to produce for anglers tossing plugs or metal slabs from the beach. South Cape Beach and Popponesset are hot spots lately and boaters working plugs around the Waquoit jetty have also been scoring throughout the daylight hours.
After seeing the Environmental Enforcement officers bust poachers who had racked up in excess of 300 black sea bass in recent weeks, it's a wonder there's any of those fish still around but reports of anglers limiting out on both sea bass and tautog continue to trickle in from area bait shops. Looks like Buzzards Bay stocks of bottom fish appear in good health to date.
The Cape Cod Canal has produced striper catches up to and including a few forty-inch fish. But the weather may play havoc with the Ditch as a number of fronts pass through the region this week. Where Sunday saw bright sun and temperatures in the 80s, we woke up Monday to steady rain and the thermometer reading sixty…good old New England, huh?
There's been a large pod of striped bass providing plenty of entertainment for anglers working lures around Race Point. The usual surf crowd competes these days with kayakers who have been scoring with hairball jigs and jig-and-plastic combos. Provincetown Harbor is alive with sand eels and that adds up to very productive fluke action. It must be a daunting proposition to be a bait fish surrounded by voracious striped bass, bluefish and fluke. Might be a challenge to find a safe place anywhere in the water column.
The Canal continues to produce – if you can stand the mosquitoes…that's why there are so many cigar smokers fishing there. Soak herring chunks if you've got any, or swing a three ounce jig along the bottom hoping it'll drop into one of the holes where the Big Boys lurk. Where are those holes? That's the part the locals won't tell a newcomer. You'll have to put in your time and pay some dues to find that out. But when you do…Shazam!
The outside beaches from Truro on south have been somewhat problematic as the winds push mung onto the shoreline and clog up the shallows. But those weather fronts may break up the weed accumulations and give anglers a shot at some of the keeper size bass that cruise through there. Right now is when it can be most rewarding to dunk a live eel into the wash anywhere from Head of the Meadow beach on down to Nauset Inlet. But if the shoreline is weeded in it becomes mostly an exercise in frustration as the wily eel will bury itself in the mung every time.
Perhaps the hottest spot for striped bass action at the moment is down along the Elizabeth Island chain on the Nantucket Sound side. Some of the biggest bass have been taken around Quicks and Robinsons holes. There's nothing clandestine about these spots…anybody running a small boat down that way knows where the fish are.
The technique is simple: bring the boat in as close to shore as possible; cast right up tight to the beach (or even up on shore); retrieve moderately fast and stand by for the strike. I've fished down there for thirty-five years and needed nothing trickier than that; it's as close to a sure-fire, striper-catching situation as it gets.
June fishing in Cape Cod waters is just about as good as it gets this side of the fall migration. Yessir, we're in the tall grass now, pardner…time to get out there and wet a line. See ya somewhere around Cuttyhunk…booyah!