Well, not quite. But we’re getting close. A deathly combination of pre-winter freezing temps and near gale force winds every day have made fishing from boat impossible for most.
This has been an interesting second half of the season. By all accounts (except for maybe the tuna bite), this Fall has been slower than past years when it comes to finding consistent action on big stripers. But something cool happened last week, on the last cruise of the season on the Mal de Mer II.
Report: October Blues
Last Thursday, Capt. Bill and I cruised into an unseasonably warm Plymouth Bay and found acres of schoolies working the flats on the outgoing tide. If you would have told me it was June, I would have believed you (and I really wish it was). After this, we ran down to the power plant and found schools of fish hanging on the bottom.
Trolling a 9’er rig on a leadcore setup, we were able to get the offering to where the fish were eating and they cooperated–massive bluefish willing to shred the tails right off the plastic shads. We landed two mid-teen pound blues before marking a few larger than normal marks on the finder. Capt. Bill took the rod and we immediately hooked up.
The gorilla pulled line and we eventually got an 18-pound blue to the boat.
Bluefish, man. You can always count on them to show up when you least expect, to either wreak havoc or salvage an end of season trip.
We ended up having a couple pops on the patio at East Bay after we got in.
School-size bluefin come crashing through
The tuna bite was hot this year–the only issue is that most fish were of the giant category. While this is a good phenomenon for the commercial guys, a 700-pound tuna on even the heaviest spinning setups quickly becomes not very fun after the initial hook-up.
Lucky for us, a mass of school-sized fish invaded the waters off the backside and on the Bank in the past week or so. Those who could get out in the October chop found plenty of blitzing bluefin.
Will braved the winds last weekend and found these schools. He hooked 6 fish on Pro Tails but was just a few pound-test under matched for the tuna.
The wind looks absolutely brutal for the foreseeable future. The name of the game will be to find a weather window, hit it hard and fast, and hope that the schools stick around. It can be very volatile this time of year, so keep an eye on those weather radars.
Pre-wedding kettlepond rainbows
Last weekend, before heading to see Jonny Mack say “I do,” Sean waded into the waters of Fearing Pond and, in the wind, fooled a nice chunky stocked rainbow into biting. Safe to say, as if we didn’t already think know before, Sean is officially hooked.
I’ve been meaning to get down to the ponds lately, but casting a 5-weight with a woolly bugger into 25kt wind isn’t very fun–that is unless you like untangling 6x tippet and pulling size 4 hooks out of your head. While the ponds receive less fish in the Fall, they are noticeably larger.
We made the tough decision to pull the boat last week for the winter. The Mal de Mer II (this will be shortened to Mal de Mer) will get all new upholstery, a brand new 16″ multi-function screen, some sweet speakers so Jon can play the entire Springstein discography, and a good old fashioned clean and wax. She’ll be looking like a new boat by the time we make the shakedown cruise in May. But May is a long ways away. There’s fishing to be had right now.
There’s a possibility I’ll be able to hitch a ride on a buddy boat in the next two weeks to target some footballs. Finding the fish is usually pretty simple if you’re okay with burning a couple hundred bucks worth of gas. Find the terns, shearwaters, whales or dolphins feeding, and close by, you’ll usually find the tuna. An open-array radar makes this even simpler.
The albies will most likely disappear by the time this wind quits its blowing, but the stripers should continue to feed throughout the month. The canal has actually produced fairly well the past few weeks. Sharpies have been doing well jigging and have enjoyed the occasional topwater bite to at dawn and throughout the day. The fish should be moving into the estuaries on the South Side and Buzzards Bay, and I’m hearing the beaches are still fishing well. Sandwich seems to be a deadzone still, so the other side of the Cape is your best bet.
Plymouth will have micros through December in the harbors and rivers. I can’t imagine these fish migrate, so you’ll most likely be able to find them in the many estuaries and rivers in Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth in the offseason. Maybe we’ll make a holdover trip.
Elsewhere in the salt, the tautog fishing is heating up. I’ve actually never targeted these guys. If anyone wants to volunteer to take the Seven Stripes crew out, we would be forever grateful.
Lastly, the ponds are loaded with big rainbow trout just waiting to get caught. Some notable ponds this autumn will be Fearing, Long and Little in Plymouth, Cliff, Goose and Peters on the Cape. The Swift should be producing very well right now. We’re also planning a trip out there.
Fish in the ponds will eat artificials–spoons and small minnow baits for the spin fisher, and any assortment of streamers for you fly folks. All black woolly buggers on an intermediate line seem to work best. Squirrel flies, rabbit fur, and soft hackles will produce as well. There have been some midge hatches recently, and if the fish are eating these little guys, be ready to downsize. Bu there’s nothing better than watching a big rainbow sip a dry off the surface.
We’re lucky to have so many options to keep our wandering minds off the inevitable darkness of the true off-season. Man, that got depressing quick. Go out there and catch a few fish before you say goodnight.