Weekend Warrior: The Last Waltz

It’s feeling like the end of something. This weekend, we’ll most likely get our last decent weather window to target some buzzer beater stripers. We’ll be out there, but I’m not sure what to expect.  

This has been a year of just that. I’m working on a season reflection now, but the patterns of the bass this year really kept us on our toes. Patterns from previous seasons that have been rock solid were totally shaken up. Bass showed in unexpected spots and never showed in spots we fully expected them to. The Canal was odd. The bait was off. Everything was just weird.

Maybe that’s why we love targeting striped bass so much. Just when we think we have it all figured out, they change directions. It’s a puzzle, one that keeps shifting, changing. Some years, it all comes together and you put a coat of resin on it and hang it on your fridge. Other years, you’re left with all corner pieces.

The last quarter of the season was tinged with frustration. It wasn’t all frustrating. We had our fair shots at the numerous bonito and albie blitzes, which showed early and disappeared just as quickly. But trying to get an albie to eat a fly for two weeks straight permanently damaged my nerves and ego. The bonito made up for it, thank God. We found some instances of typical blitzing fall run bass. But the Fall run really entered with a subdued bang and left with a barely audible whimper.

This, of course, has mostly to do with the sorry state of the Striped Bass stock, which we’ll hopefully be hearing about shortly in the form of better regulations beginning with the 2020 season. But let’s not talk about that now. We have, at least for the next week or two, some of our final shots at catching bass before they make their way to their winter homes. Let’s catch a few of ‘em, huh?

The Report

Our two most recent storms really messed up any semblance of a consistent fall striper bite, as so often is the case this time of year, but increasingly so with the trend of more brutal storms happening more often in the past five years. Before the storms, fish were holed up in every estuary, outside every river and bay along the Cape and South Shore gorging on clouds the peanut bunker and juvenile herring.

Now? It’s less consistent. The bait is still there, but the stripers have been more spread out. For a consistent bite, South Coast and RI locales have been much better. But supposedly there are still some decent bass hanging on both sides of the Canal. My pick would be to hit those areas around the new moon coming up, but fish can run through the Canal during any moon phase this time of year. Sometimes they can even run through without anyone noticing.

There are still reports of fish up North of Boston, but if they haven’t moved south yet, they either aren’t going to, or they’re going to do it without us knowing about it. Plenty of bass run offshore and around the Cape to get to the warmer waters south. I’m not sure if fish up North is something we can hang out hat on to signify a late season migration miracle.

Trout fishing remains steady. Midge hatches have made for some frustrating fly fishing but the bait and lure guys seem to be getting their fair share of fish. 1/8oz spoons and spinners seem to be getting the bites. There have been some very large specimen caught, especially around dusk. I had a three species day in a Plymouth pond today with the fly rod, none of which were trout. Imagine that (trout curse).

We went out tautog fishing in Upper Buzzards Bay last weekend and was humbled by the white chins. There were certainly fish around the rockpiles and ledges from Onset to Falmouth, but getting a big one on the hook was another challenge. Fishing should only improve for these fellas as the water cools in the next week or two.

The Plan

I have to believe that many of these fish you’ll find in the estuaries and rivers this time of year are resident fish, the same ones we were catching middle to end of April this season. To find these locations, it’s all about the Google Earth. Deeper water that won’t freeze and some good current movement will keep the bait around.

We’ll be trying for a few last minute stripers this weekend, probably on foot. This could be it for the Mal de Mer II for the season. We’ll be focusing on the beaches around the East End, and the rivers in Upper Buzzards Bay.

I’ll be trout fishing today and tomorrow, because, you know, I’m still trout cursed. I need a slump buster. If you see a trout on our insta  (@sevenstripesfishing), you’ll know the pigs have flown.

Get out there and catch ‘em this weekend, because you may not have another chance until next year.

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