Weekend Warrior: The table is set

The new moon will be here next week, and I shouldn’t have to tell you what this means. This weekend should finally bring with it some consistent striper action–a welcome change from the downright frustrating fishing we’ve experienced this past week or two.

The good news is, the bays and estuaries of Buzzards Bay and the Upper Cape have come alive with all sorts of bait. Gorging on the smaller bait are sporadic schools 14″-22″ stripers.

But massive schools of adult pogies flip happily on the surface. The schools of mackerel have arrived in the bay and are beginning to take residence in their normal haunts. We even caught a few sea herring in Duxbury bay last week.

The table is set. Your move, stripers.

Finding the stripers

In the past, Mother’s Day has always signified the true start to the striper season. It’s only that we’ve been so spoiled in the last few years (2017 especially, when we had keeper fish all through the Bay by this time) that makes us feel like the season is off to such a slow start.

This being said, the schoolie fishing has been okay–as long as you know where to find them. This is the frustrating part. These small-ish schools of fish don’t represent the main biomass of migratory bass. They are still very much in migratory mode, meaning they can be here one tide and gone the next.

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The fishing will get more and more consistent as the larger biomass of of fish pour into the bays, and your odds of catching a decent fish will increase exponentially.

Finding these fish will rely on being at the right place at the right time. Dawn and dusk are obviously your best bets. Fishing river mouths, estuaries, and harbors where the tide is running at a good clip will improve your luck tremendously. Keep an eye out for bait–rainbait, silversides, even crabs and other crustaceans. This is what the fish will be feeding on right now.

There have been a few reports of larger than legal fish caught. Bass River, West End of the Canal and the Wareham and Weweantic Rivers seem to be hotspots. So get out there and make something happen. Each day we get closer to the new moon will increase your odds.

Haddock in the fish box

The haddock fishing has been very good, although they haven’t moved south in great numbers yet. They can still be found in good numbers on the North side of Stelly. The weather hasn’t exactly cooperated for those of us with small boats, so we haven’t really had the opportunity to get out there. But it looks like we may have a few weather windows this week. Hopefully the fish will move to the SE and SW as the water warms and the clouds of sand eels and herring migrate.

If you want to get in on this fishing but don’t have a boat, no worries. There are lots of great charters captains in the area who will get you your limit of tasty haddock in no time. Mark from Fire Escape charters out of Plymouth does a great job, so contact him if you’re interested. (http://www.fireescapecharters.com/)

Scup and other options in Buzzards

If you like scup, there’s heaps of ’em in the normal Buzzards Bay haunts. A jig tipped with seaworm or clam should do the trick. I’ve seen some pictures of monster scup that would look great wrapped in tinfoil and stuck on the grill whole.

I can’t wait for seabass season to open up on May 19th. There’s nothing better than targeting topwater stripers at dawn, the jigging up some seabass and scup all before noon. Talk about a two-fer.

My Report and Fishing Plan

Last week, after striking out targeting schoolies in my local Wareham River, and not wanting to subject myself to another four hours of empty casting, Dad and I dropped the aluminum 12-footer into a Wareham pond, hoping to find a few pre-spawn largies.


We cruised around in the soft rain tossing senkos and swimbaits for big bass. We each got a bass (mine was bigger), but the real star of the show were the massive pickerel just waiting to tear our plastic baits to shreds.


Saturday looks like a washout in these parts, although the afternoon looks like it could clear up. You’ll find me dropping the kayak into the Weweantic and heading downstream toward the mouth.


I may anchor the kayak and hop out to try and cast a few clousers from the shallows. I had some good luck doing this last year.


Sunday looks good, albeit a bit windy. It’ll be three days before the new moon, and I’m predicting lots and lots of stripers caught. I’m doubling down on my prediction (even though I keep getting them wrong).

I’m going to drop the Mal de Mer into Buzzards Bay at dawn and cruise around looking for surface feeding fish. If there are none at the West End, I may head closer to the Cape into an estuary to see what I can find. One thing’s for sure–I’m not going to quit until I find them. Scup will be the backup plan.

But regardless of where and what you’re fishing for this weekend, make sure to save some time for Mom (and wife, if Mother’s Day pertains to her). Bring her a card and a few whole scup. I bet she’ll love that.


Billy Mitchell

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