Frank G. Dwyer
June 12, 2003
Fish have taken up residency around the Port in force, and depending on whom you talk to the action can be described as spotty, terrific, and everything in between. . I’m more of an optimist and in the last two weeks have had several rewarding outings that keep that attitude in check.
This past weekend I was fortunate to get out fishing both mornings and was greeted each day by rising fish as we motored out of Boatworks Marina. Drifting the outgoing tide above the Route 1 bridge produced numerous school-sized striped bass. The fish were somewhat picky, but once we cycled through several different lures and patterns, more steady fishing ensued. Olive and white clouser flies worked well as did darker colored deceivers. On the spinning rod, various metal lures, including small Kastmaster and Crippled Herring lures seemed to produce the most strikes. Interestingly, the old standby of a sluggo (rubber shad) rigged on a lead head was not a favored bait this time around.
As the tide started to move at a steadier rate each morning, we moved out onto Joppa Flats and enjoyed terrific fishing drifting the flats from the AYC to Woodbridge Island. Fish were stacked up along the edge of the channel, as well as in more shallow water further up on the flats.
The fish on the flats have definitely gotten larger over the last two weeks. In total, my friend Don and I caught (and released) six legal sized bass (+28”) over the two mornings this past weekend. All but one came off the flats, with the largest a 35”, 15 pound bass that Don landed on his fly rod using an olive and white clouser minnow.
In addition to the flies, top water plugs proved to be a terrific choice this weekend. A wide variety of lures worked across the surface worked, including Atom Poppers, Needlefish, the Creek Chub “Striper Striker” and the Stillwater “Smack-It”. The excitement of watching fish follow and ultimately aggressively strike a top-water lure is one of my favorite ways to catch fish as it’s pleasing to the sense of sight, sound and touch!
Reports from the Rocks Village Bridge are that a few shad are still being taken as well as some large striped bass. Apparently anglers fishing with chunks of herring have been landing bass well over the legal limit of 28 inches. Boat anglers seem to be hooking up with more consistency than those bound to shore.
Kay at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island was very busy when I stopped into the shop on Sunday afternoon, and the wall of pictures with keeper sized bass continues to grow. Kay’s clams have been moving out of the store in a rapid manner as anglers have been having success bouncing them on the bottom of the river at the point.
Anglers off the jetty and the beaches have been enjoying success using sea worms and cut bait while fly fishermen have done well casting flies into the ocean wash from the beach. Joppa Flats continues to heat up for both wading and boat anglers.
Ryan at Captain’s Lady Fishing Parties on Plum Island reports that boats are now running seven days a week, weather permitting.
Allday trips have been getting better as the weeks have progressed with decent numbers of cod and haddock being landed. The largest cod landed have been in the high 20 to low 30-pound range. Haddock have also been coming in a bit larger with fish weighing over 10 pounds now being caught. Mackerel have filled in nicely off shore over the last few weeks.
The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge beach remains closed to anglers, except for a small strip of beach accessible from parking lot 1. The closure, which is normal for this time of year, is so that the 13 pairs of piping plovers nesting on the beaches can be safe until their young hatch. Piping plovers, a shorebird species threatened with extinction, are very vulnerable to the forces of nature and humans; thus the Refuge closes the beach each year in an attempt to help the Plovers life expectancy. More than likely the beaches will remain closed until at least the end of the month.
I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the water seems awfully crowded this year. Even on weekday mornings and evenings, the crowds are starting to resemble weekend crowds. On Sunday (June 8) a thick fog had settled in over Newburyport, yet the amount of boats out on the flats was incredible. While most seemed to exercise the proper caution in very limited visibility, there was still several people displaying questionable behavior in the fog. Why anyone would be running at full throttle in extremely limited visibility is beyond me, and not only endangers the person doing it, but everyone else on the water. I even had a guy in a Kayak emerge from the fog on the flats to ask me, “is the road that way”, as he pointed in the direction he thought would lead him back to the boat ramp on Water Street. Talk about unprepared!