Posted in: Fishing Report
In the next week or so, that day to which most kids look forward will be upon us: the last day of school.
Anyone who ever attended high school can remember with great fondness those thoughts of freedom from homework and (place your least favorite subject here), replaced by working at your typical summer job, perhaps interspersed with visits to the beach and playing your favorite sport in a summer league.
For the younger crowd, there are always summer camps to attend and just doing what kids do to keep entertained.
Unfortunately, the electronic age has resulted in a rather disturbing trend, as kids spend far too much time in front of the TV playing video games or yakking or texting on their cellphones.
And with many parents concerned about unsavory characters lurking about or the dangers of increased traffic on our roads, kids just don’t jump on their bikes as they did years ago and head to the local field to play pickup ball. Nowadays, sports for kids seem to be all about organization, with uniforms and referees required to even start a game.
But among all these changes, perhaps the one that bothers me the most is the ever-decreasing number of kids who are being introduced to fishing, the one activity that is most likely to stick with them for the rest of their lives.
That’s why I just couldn’t help smiling when I ran into Amanda and Bill Nealon last Saturday at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on East Main Street in Falmouth.
I can remember seeing Amanda, who was probably only 7 or 8 back then, buzzing around Woods Hole with her dad in his little Whaler as they moved from spot to spot, casting plugs here or dragging the tube-and-worm there. She always had a big smile on her face and just loved being with Bill . . . and she caught some really big fish.
And just like old times, Amanda, who graduated from Springfield College last year, was up to her old tricks, weighing in a 37-plus-pound striper that she had caught jigging on one of the shoals in Nantucket Sound, with Bill still as proud of her accomplishment as he was when she was far younger.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to fish with three different groups of kids and their parents, and as much fun as they had fishing, you could tell they were having even more of a blast being with mom and dad. In one case, even though it was rainy and a bit colder than I like, George and John Helfrich, from New Mexico, who are going into the first and fourth grade next fall, proved to be fast studies as they scored a number of schoolies and bluefish on a trip with their parents, Paul and Maureen. And it wasn’t until a bit of fatigue and slower fishing due to the current dying that they even seemed to notice the inclement weather.
Although some children have the advantage of being able to go out on a boat, there are shoreline spots that are perfect for introducing your youngsters to fishing. I always like going out of Falmouth Harbor because there is usually at least one family fishing from the town bulkhead at the mouth and along the south side there are numerous jetties and beaches that provide good chances of catching. During the summer, you may have to wait until the beachgoers leave to fish some of these locales, but what better way to spend some quality time than an hour or two at the beach after dinner?
There are also local party boats, such as the Patriot fleet out of Falmouth, that cater to families and provide an excellent experience and value, as well as the Falmouth Harbor charter group and other for-hire boats that you can talk to about tailoring a trip for your youngsters.
Finally, don’t think that you have to target so-called glamour species such as bass and blues; like yours truly, I’m sure more than a few fishing crazies cut their teeth on scup and cunners, with the occasional sea robin tossed in for entertainment.
As of midweek, this strange (for this time of year) east/northeast weather pattern was still with us and many anglers were grumbling about the lack of action. You know, the old “east is least, west is best” mentality, with so many folks believing that the fish just stop eating when the wind blows east.
Then again, Rich Generazio at Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket across from McDonald’s told of Scott Canavan who went out on Monday with his buddies and they returned with a number of bass over 40 inches that they caught off West Chop using live scup.
There have been some fish stacked off Nobska as well, but the key there is to get down to them, which often requires a substantial amount of lead if you are livelining, or streaming a lot of wire if you are jigging. The odds are, also, that many of these fish are bluefish, which have taken over shoals such as L’Hommedieu, with the occasional bass as well.
If you are jigging, you might want to experiment with bouncing your jigs along the bottom if you are over sand, which will imitate crabs scurrying about and the bass love to eat crustaceans.
You might also come up with an interesting ancillary catch such as a big fluke, like the one that Capt. Eric Staplefield weighed in with Jim Young at Eastman’s; it weighed 13.2 pounds and measured 35-1/2-inches and was taken on a green Hairball jig.
Chris Begley at the Sports Port in Hyannis also reported that they are still catching some decent bass jigging or live lining scup at Bishop and Clerks early in the morning, but the afternoon bite has been mainly bluefish.
Despite the success stories in the sounds, many boats are electing to travel to Tom Shoal, which has been very good lately on bass and bluefish, with some of the fish on top taking plugs and flies.
Some of the best fishing around remains along the Elizabeths, where Mike Thomas at M & D’s in Wareham said his buddies have been doing extremely well on bass in the 30-pound class using big live scup; Quick’s has been solid, with the deeper holes off Robinson’s also productive. Live eels are also working, as is the tube-and-worm.
Shore fishing along the south side has definitely slowed, but Jeff Clabault at Forestdale Bait & Tackle on Route 130 advised that the weather this week has cooled the water, and there are still some decent bass around Popponesset, as well as bluefish. Jeff managed a 29-inch striper earlier this week using a Yo-zuri MagMinnow and had reports of a boat angler taking a number of fish in the 30-inch range up inside the bay using topwater plugs.
Bob Lewis at Green Pond Fish ‘n Gear in East Falmouth next to Family Foods said the wind has made it difficult on boaters, but shore anglers have had a good run this week. Steve French managed a 40+-inch striper around Trunk River using chunk mackerel, while two anglers that Bob only knows as Jason and Fred managed four legal bass at Menauhant using live eels, as well as some small bluefish.
There have been sporadic charges of bluefish around Menauhant, South Cape Beach, Oregon Beach, and Dowses during the daylight hours, but more and more of the bass fishing has been before first light and after dark.
Woods Hole pretty much shut off last weekend on topwater action, but folks jigging and livelining have been able to catch the occasional bass, but with all of the schoolies and blues busting in Buzzards Bay, there haven’t been consistent reports of the same scene in the hole.
There are still schools of pogies from Wareham to Marion, with early morning and night hours turning up a big bass or two for anglers who know the holes and edges, advised Mike Thomas.
Dick Hopwood at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay had an interesting story of a friend of John Dugan, who was trolling the Onset channel, with a tube on one line and a Hootchie on the other. Seems he came up with a 45-pound striper on the latter, and Dick said that another angler managed a 40-plus-pound fish working the Onset rip.
There have been tons of schoolies around the west entrance to the Canal, with smallish blues mixed in, noted Bob Samuelson at Red Top in Buzzards Bay, but the Canal has been slower this week. Many of the best catches have come from the middle of the Big Ditch by anglers fishing chunk baits, such as pogies or mackerel.
Of course, as Bob and the rest of the Canal shop staff emphasized, there are good plugging tides coming up this week, and the rats are surely looking for a repeat of the outstanding surface action of two weeks ago.
Mike Thomas explained that on that occasion, schools of big fish moved in to feed on the herring and found plenty of pogies and mackerel as well, creating a feeding frenzy. Whether there will be that much bait around is anyone’s guess, but there are plenty of sand eels added in to the mix. Mike said that the regular plugging crew is having to work hard this week for a fish here and there, especially around the west end, with loaded blue/silver and black/silver Cordell pencil poppers a popular item.

The Cribbin’ has been where Jeff Miller at Canal Bait & Tackle in Sagamore has been having his best success, with Gibbs’ pencils in white, yellow, or pogy high on his list, with metal jigs such as the Crippled Herring, also effective. Jeff said that there are good numbers of winter flounder in the Canal and they weighed in a six-pound tautog this week, as well as some nice sea bass.
Courtney Sylvester at Mashpee Bait & Tackle on Route 28 next to the Barn added that Sluggos fished on jig heads are still effective offerings, with the black-and-red color a popular choice.
Out in Cape Cod Bay, Scorton Ledge is showing some activity, with the tube-and-worm always the rig of choice, but the parking lot has had schools of fish, particularly around high water.
Mackerel chunks and seaworms have been working from Sandy Neck, if you are willing to walk, since access is limited due to the plovers, and Barnstable has an incredible mix of bass in all sizes, with live eels and tubes working in the channel day and night, with blitzing fish all over the vast schools of sand eels.
Scup and sea bass fishing remains excellent in Buzzards Bay, a fact supported by the number of Falmouth party boats that I saw last weekend running through Woods Hole and out and up the bay. Bird Island to Cleveland Ledge remains a good stretch, but Dick Hopwood told of one group of anglers who limited out on scup and had several nice sea bass fishing just off the edge of  Mashnee Flats.
As for fluke, Dick said his son Jeff and his two young boys managed seven nice summer flatties up to five pounds earlier this week in upper Buzzards Bay, and Rich Generazio and friends found some good ones fishing off Tashmoo using ThomCat rigs tipped with a whole squid, and then moved off to Nobska around the lobster pots where they caught some sea bass to add to their dinner.
Of course, if all of this saltwater stuff isn’t your bag, Jeff Clabault called the smallmouth bass fishing outstanding, with Snake Pond, Peters Pond, and Lovell’s Pond fishing very well.
Courtney Sylvester also reminds anglers that there is still some good trout fishing in the ponds, with PowerBait and worms working well, with plenty of largemouth around, although they have been on the small side.

Here are a few photos from the recent fishing tournament sponsored by Mashpee Yacht Club.

The winners of the “heaviest bass” prize during a fishing tournament organized by the Mashpee Yacht Club, through the Raw Bar at Popponesset: Mike Barry (left), Bill Paolini, Heath Paolini, and Eli Kavsela. Heath Paolini’s winning bass weighed in at 28.5 pounds. CHRISTOPHER AVIS/ENTERPRISE

J.R., Neal Larson, Jim Keene, Christine Moniz, Ken Antis CHRISTOPHER AVIS/ENTERPRISE

The crew of the Canyon Runner show off their catch at the Little River Boatyard after the recent tourney to raise funds for the Cape Cod chapter of Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Club of Cape Cod, each of which will receive $1,000: Neal Larsson (left), Jim Keene, Ken Antis, Christine Moniz, and John Redy. CHRISTOPHER AVIS/ENTERPRISE