Weekend Warrior: The Run Begins

It may not feel like Fall quite yet, but signs of “The Run” are starting to creep in. But before we talk about what’s to come, let’s go back a bit.

A few weeks back, on the new moon of course, big bass came through the canal. Again. This time they were on mackerel. Pretty much all tide, you could have found breaking bass up to 40lbs anywhere on the canal.

You can figure out when these blitzes are going to happen, you don’t need me to tell you about them! (Hint: New moons/full moons). But because they’re in the past, I can say this: They were pretty ridiculous. There were a few blitzes that resembled bluefin blasting through bait. But again, that’s in the past. It’s up to you to predict when these epic Canal frenzies are going to happen and get down there to fish them.

The pogy bite was getting very good again along south Plymouth, in the Bay and the South Shore shoreline until a few days of sustained West wind and some unseasonable cool nights happened. Water temps dropped to 60 degrees or lower, and remain crazy low for this time of year. This put a real damper on that nice summer pogy bite.

The past few days, some larger bass and blues have resurfaced, but we’ll see if we get another consistent feed in the next few weeks as the water temps creep up.

The last third

Belichick says he breaks a football season up into quarters. Well, myself being of similar genius-level status as Bill, I split the fishing season up into thirds. We’re approaching (or have already entered) the third period: Fall run.

The Fall run is brought on by a few factors. Of course, we know this time of year, the nights will start to get cooler and the suns angle will get a little sharper and less direct, sending out a mass Aquaman signal to the many sea critters that it’s getting to closing time. Prevailing South and Southwest Winds will give way to the North and Northeast winds of Fall. Year of young baitfish (peanut bunker and bay anchovies) will flush out of safe and quiet estuaries into the harsh seas.

All of these factors mesh to create, what can only be defined as a feeding frenzy. Sometimes. Other times, the fall run happens in a few days and then it’s gone. That damn fall run is notoriously difficult to figure out.

I have a few images in my head of the Fall run. The first one consists of MASSIVE striper and blue blitzes on tiny bait. This is something I started seeing in Plymouth Bay last week, and has recently been spotted along the Canal and all around the West End. In years past, we have had literal miles of striper feeds in Plymouth Bay, from the Harbor Jetty down to Kingston Harbor. It’s incredible. Especially when the big fish crash the party.

The other image I have, and that I can’t seem to get out of my head the past few days, are those of funny fish slashing through bait balls. Funny Fish, Bonito and Albies, our warmwater visitors, make their annual appearance typically during what we refer to as the fall run, although bonito tend to show up much earlier.  

Well, folks it’s officially time to ring the funny fish bell. Funny fish time means no sleep. Bones are out in full force from Buzz Bay to the Sounds to the Islands. Get out there and target them, because Mr. Al will start to trickle in any day now.

The Plan

We’ve got some serious decisions this weekend. At the forefront of my mind is the aforementioned bonito (and possibly albies if the early reports along the south coast are to be believed).

I interviewed Capt. Nick Kathmann for the podcast a few days ago (search “Seven Stripes Fishing” on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe), and he had some excellent tips for putting up big albie numbers this fall.

Here’s a sneak peak: When the fish are blitzing, don’t run and gun for them. Mark on your plotter where they pop up. Eventually, you should be able to define a pattern. Set your boat up in a drift along this pattern or anchor up and make blind casts.

From shore, you’ll be reliant on wind to push bait into coves and chokepoints. Keep an eye for heavy South and North wind blows that will corral the bait. This is where you’ll find the albies and bones.

Saturday and Sunday look calm, so a run to the Vineyard may be warranted. We’ll be trolling with medium to deep divers (like the Yo-Zuri Crystal Deep Diver) along the rips in the Sound and off the island. Topwater activity is excellent, so once we find the fish, we’ll be throwing epoxy minnows 3/8oz to 1oz and pink clousers, small mushmouths and surfcandies.

Other spots to check will be Middle Ground, upper Buzzards Bay (east) and Woods Hole. Big schools of blues will be feeding with the bonito, and the occasional striper, so a cape cod slam is a definite possibility.

The East end of the Canal to Scorton should be pretty good to excellent as we approach the full moon. Any tide holds the promise of monsters, so if you’re going for big stripers, this is probably your best bet. Target an east running tide, especially near the bottom of the tide.

Mackerel are still wildly plentiful around the East End, South Plymouth, Gurnet and along the south shore. A great way to get finicky small-ish bass that are shadowing pogy schools to eat is to troll mackerel aong the edges or drop the right into the middle. The change of pace seems to get the fish to want to eat.

Pogies are still balled up all over the Bay (Backside, P-Town Harbor, Plymouth Bay, Duxbury Beach, Marshfield, Scituate) but it can be hell to try and find bass on them. But if you’re going for cows, this would be another good bet.

Billy Mitchell

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