- August 6, 2017
Even though we are now into August, our water temperatures are still feeling like July. The hard, northeast winds this past weekend have something to do with that and it’s keeping the fishery interesting. These are the days where you feel like you can find bluefish of every shape and size around the island. Bass are close to shore, but only at night and Bonito feel like they are finally here to stay!
Bonito tend to arrive in waves, but when they find the island, they like it as much as all of the August visitors. It’s the time of year, where we have smaller bait stacked along the shoreline. The smaller bait are generally sand eels, which hatch in shallow water and love a sandy habitat. While we see hatches of sand eels all season, this prolific bait loves the warmer water temps. Due to its shape and small size, this bait is not in control of its movements as much as other bait species. As a result, we see large amounts of bait gather in areas of significant tidal or current activity. All types of fish feed on sand eels, which are often referred to as “rain bait” and that is the reason why our bonito fishing is some of the best in the region.
The most common place to find bonito early is at the bonito bar in Madaket, especially on an incoming tide. On an incoming tide, the currents push all of the warmer water from offshore, into our inshore waters. On the bar, we’ll see the depth come up from 25 feet to 6-8 feet and the small bait gets stuck there. Bluefish and then bonito take advantage of this situation and see the gathering of bait as somewhat of a free meal. Earlier in the season, we get a lot of bluefish mixed in at the bar, and once the bonito get in here in larger numbers, they tend to be the dominant species and generally have the bar all to themselves. The past couple of days have started to produce some great fish as many captains on the West end caught ten plus fish on a tide. This is a great change from 1-2 fish on a tide last week. These fish are not consistent though and can be there one day and leave the next, so don’t count on it! When fishing these speedsters, make sure to have fresh line on your rods and use a smaller YoZuri or a bomber, or metal such as a deadly dick.
A lot of people ask what happens to these fish on the outgoing tide, well the bait spreads out and so do the fish, but they are still here. All you need to look for is a concentration of bait, and you should find fish. Look for smaller rips or a confluence of water. I won’t give away secret spots, but I will say if your willing to explore and find the right water, it can be as productive as the bar. These fish also push up to the shore and anglers from the beach have a good shot at them. The most prolific spot is the inside galls at Great Point. There is a strong current system there, which pushes bait right on shore and as a result, we’ll see bonito actively cruising the shoreline stalking bait. These fish are more active in the low light, so fish for them at day break if possible and use a smaller metal.
One of our best beach Anglers, James Hatton who runs Nantucket Surfcasting Company, loves catching bonito from the beach and man, does he put in his time. Last week, I wrote about how great Anglers spot patterns and can predict when and where fish will be caught. James is one of those guys. He is generally the first angler to catch a beach bonito each year. The reason is two-fold, he knows when and where to fish, but most importantly, he spends more time on the water than most people I know, and the latter is the reason why he is so successful. Great work James!
Ok, enough about bonito, I just get really excited when our fishery changes and I love hearing how excited Anglers are getting. Speaking of exciting, our bluefishing is really, really fun right now. Over the past few years we have seen the numbers of bluefish fall in our inshore waters. Specifically, on the South shore, it just wasn’t as amazing as it has been. In the last week or so, we have seen all of these fish push in, and we are seeing a density of bluefish, and big bluefish, which is awesome. I can’t speak as to why, but it has to be bait driven in some way. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the squid boats are not as dense as they were and more bait is getting through, but who can say… Beach Anglers can also take advantage of this great fishery as we are seeing fish being caught in the early evening, right off the beach. Specifically Miacomet or Fisherman’s, use a big Hopkins and make sure to have some great surface action. Similarly the East side has started to fish better. Great Point is an area we are still struggling with unfortunately, as it used to be a haven for bluefish, but with the number of sand eels in our waters, we have seen the numbers tick back up. For Angler’s who are younger, Dionis is producing a lot of fish in the 1-2 lb range. These are a blast to catch and even better to eat. I promise, the smaller fish always taste better!
Lastly, bass fishing is pretty slow right now; this is not to say they are not around though. My brother Ken, who always visits the island for a couple of weeks this time of year, went to the South shore during the morning this week (not even bright and early) and picked up a bass on his fifth cast. These fish are mostly active at night, so if you are looking for higher percentages, focus on Miacomet, Madaket or Tom Nevers at night. The offshore rips are picking up also, especially with some cooler water from the North East blow, so if you are focused on a linesider you still have a shot. Also, don’t forget about bottom fishing, which is still amazing!
Go target a new species or an old species in a new way as that is the most rewarding part of fishing. I love change and the discovery of my favorite pastime. As our island is starting to feel full, go find your own patch of beach or water and wet a line. Have fun!