Weekend Warrior: A different animal

The fall run is chaotic, fickle, wild, urgent. All of those adjectives and about a million more. Our fishing “runs” are typically predictable. There are patterns and templates to be followed. In the spring, we generally know, within a week or two, when and where the stripers will show up. During the doldrums, we have a good sense of where the bass like to hang and how to target them.

But the fall run? No, that’s a different animal.

All those big bass that have been hanging off Boston and the North Shore–are they going to migrate south, past Plymouth, into the Canal and down into Buzzards? Or are they going to move deep across the Bay and proceed around the outer Cape? Or, are they going to just move offshore and disappear completely?

The early albie run–how long is this thing going to last? How about the bonitos? Where will the blues go? Questions on questions on questions that won’t be answered until the Fall run is fin and we have a few moments to catch our collective breath.

This unpredictability will be readily apparent with the weather this weekend.

I’ll admit it. I have zero clue what the remnants from Dorian will do to the striper, blue, tuna, bonito, and albie fishing following this weekend. Could it stir things up for Sunday, congregate the bait, and create an epic bite? Could it shut it down completely until the water settles again? Yes and yes. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

The Report

In my home port of Plymouth, it’s been really tough to forecast a bite on big stripers without the aid of the million pogie schools that we’ve gotten so used to this year. The season was really an incredible one for big bass in Plymouth/Duxbury Bay. But as soon as those pogie schools disappeared, so did the big bass.

Plymouth will continue to be a hotbed for topwater schoolie action into November, but unless the big stripers come by us on their way South, our time for biggins may be all done.

The moon tides last weekend in the Canal were a massive bust. But that’s okay. There’s still plenty of time for the Canal to light up. Peanut bunker, silversides and mackerel are the predominant bait in the Ditch, so we’ve got the buffet ready. In the past few years, we’ve had some great topwater action for bigger fish around the East End all the way down to Barnstable, so keep an eye out for that. Bonito and albies will sometimes join the fun in Cape Cod Bay.

Buzzards Bay and Southside of the Cape is still holding ridiculous amount of bonito. Todd from Dupe a Fish and I went out last weekend in search of albies and only found bonito. They were still finicky, feeding on 1″-2″ silversides and chovies, but they readily took a small, flashy EP fly. Spanish mackerel continue to make their presence known–a very cool and uncommon visitor to our waters. You’ll find them feeding in the bonito schools.

All of our success came from patterning the schools. This means you don’t need to run and gun. Find a school and try to project where they’ll pop up next. Keep your engine in low gear and when you see them, cruise slowly into casting range. We caught all of our fly bones when they popped up right next to the boat. It can be close to impossible to run into a school, get a cast in, and hook up if you’re any distance away. Especially if they’re this finicky.

Our most productive non-fly offering this funny fish season has been a 1/2oz silver Joe Baggs Resin Jig. When the fish have been on peanut bunker, we’ve up-sized to the 1oz in pink and tan.

The albies have been a bit frustrating to find. They showed up for us around Vineyard Sound and then moved off into Nantucket Sound and down to Monomoy. Then they disappeared for a few days. Yesterday, I got news that they were feeding in big numbers in Buzzards Bay and down the Elizabeths. One thing for certain–these albies have been big. When you hook one, it’s going to pull some drag on you. It will hopefully get more consistent after the storm.

The Plan

I’ve got one plan for Friday–pull the boat off the mooring. I don’t have interest in lying in bed worrying about the Mal de Mer tossing on its mooring during the storm.

Friday night, folks braving the storm could get into an epic surf bite along Bayside beaches and jetties. Just be careful out there. Southside beaches could be good too, even with the wind blowing offshore. All of the bait in the harbors and estuaries could get blown out and create a funny fish feeding frenzy. Could be a great time to get an albie from shore.

Saturday is going to be a total blowout. The wind should actually lay down later into the evening, but the water is going to be a mess, so it’s probably not even worth it to try. Sunday is going to be very interesting. I can picture it on both ends of the fishing spectrum. The plan is to head out of Plymouth to get on the striper bite for dawn, then head down to Buzzards Bay for albies in the afternoon.

Stay safe out there. Catch ’em up.

Billy Mitchell

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