Weekend Warrior: Here tuner, tuner, tuner

It’s been a week! I don’t say this often, but folks, I’ve got the tuna bug. Slowish and inconsistent striper fishing around my inshore haunts has forced me into other pursuits. Regardless of your affliction, the fishing is pretty good considering it’s mid-July and peak dog day season.

Football season

In case you haven’t heard, the South of the Vineyard bite on small bluefin is as good as it’s been in 15 years (or so I’m told, I won’t pretend I’m an expert on this matter). And it’s been going since mid June! Ridiculous.

Two weeks back, Team Seven Stripes made the journey Southwest toward Cox’s and the Claw and got bluefished out. It was an unproductive trip on the tuna front, but it was good to stretch the Mal de Mer’s legs and take her “nearshore.”

Earlier this week, we decided to give it another go. With excellent intel from the previous day and a solid starting point plugged into the GPS, we ignored the signs of life and made our move way South through the pea soup fog. Radio chatter around us was incredibly positive as we arrived, to say the least. We dropped back two Side Trackers on our spinning setups (because we left the 80s in the truck. What a bunch of googins we are), and within 5-minutes, it got slammed. Man, what a fight on those spinning rods! We boated our two within twenty minutes and went into C&R mode. As the morning wore on, they stopped hitting the side trackers and would only hit smaller plugs and lures (Hogy Harness Jigs, Cedar Plugs) trolled in the wash 20 to 30-feet back. I will never get sick of the snap of the elastic on the downline and a screaming Stella. It’s straight up eupohoric. We eventually made our way back over smooth seas and Capt. Tyler of Off Limits Sportfishing steaked ’em up real nice for the boys.

Spotty stripers in the Bay

The Three Bays have been feast or famine so far this month. The good new is that the macks have been readily available at the “1” or at one of the many humps a few miles off. Lights out topwater action on Browns and inside the “Bug Bowl” (yeah I made that up–it’s the area by Bug light where the three channels meet) in late June fizzled out and left us with a few scattered mornings of fish cruising the flats and hanging in the rips so far this month. Some mornings you can pick off a few fish if you really work at it. There are some over-slot fish mixed in, but most are cookie cutters. The pogies seem to have left us too.

The past few years have been some of the most consistent light tackle striper fishing I’ve ever in Plymouth. This year? Not so much. I’ve fished a few “perfect” tides at dawn and gotten skunked. The fish are much more transient and there seems to be a lot less of them. The lack of pogies in concerning, too. If they don’t come back this year, our odds at finding consistent big bass in the Bay are slim to none. We’ll see what the second half of the month and the rest of the summer brings us.

In other much more positive news, across the way at Race, the fishing has been excellent. While the fish aren’t as big as they were a few weeks back, there are slot fished absolutely stacked on all of the major dropoffs and around the backside. The issue most days is getting them to bite. Most of the time they hug the bottom and slurp up sand eels. I’ve found you have to wait these fish out. Usually if you wait long enough, the switch will flip and they’ll start eating jigs and live macks.

We got into some good bluefish action over there this morning in the slop. They were readily hitting all forms of topwater. It’s great to see the YEDs back in the bay in good numbers.

The Canal has been good. And that’s all I have to say about that.

The Plan

We’ve got another few days of great weather windows. Heading South for tuna? Better get out there early. I think there’s going to be a big fleet. I wonder if those fish will spread out a bit after the SW blow today. There are definitely giants on the SW corner and in the Bay (ask me how I know about giants in the Bay on pogie schools. I knew I should have brought a 20k sized reel). Supposedly there are rec sized fish around middle bank. If you’re headed to the Bank for tuna, it may be worth it to check out deep around the lanes for footballs. They may just show up in big numbers if they ever leave the South of the Vineyard hot spots. Catch ’em up.

Billy Mitchell

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