July 4, 2003

Fishing is Terrific as the First Bluefish Arrive in the Port

Frank G. Dwyer
July 4, 2003

It finally feels like summer around here and the fishing continues to improve with more options presenting themselves to Port anglers. Striped bass fishing has been fairly consistent, while the first bluefish showed up at the mouth of the Merrimack recently. Flounder and cod fishing have also been good to add to the variety of species available to target.

Many keeper size fish have been caught over the last few weeks, however if I were to put one word on my personal experiences and the experiences of other anglers I have spoken to over the last few weeks it would be sporadic. In addition, it appears we are getting closer to that time of year where bait is something you might want to have in your arsenal along with your artificial gear.

Upriver, anglers fishing cut bait in some of the deep holes near Carr and Eagle Island, all the way up to the 95 Bridge, have landed some larger striped bass, some in the 20+ pound range. The last two hours of the rising tide, followed by the first two hours of the outgoing tide seem to be producing best in this area.

Joppa Flats continues to produce fish for both fly and spin gear fishermen. Although the fish on the flats have become a bit more discriminating as the water temperatures have risen, many nice fish have been taken over the last few weeks. I’ve heard of several, but know for sure of two 40+inch fish taken on the flats recently, one on a sparsely tied sand eel pattern by a lucky fly-fisherman, the other by a spin fishermen tossing a 9 inch needlefish lure.

Getting back to that “sporadic” label I applied to the recent fishing activity, on several occasions over the last two weeks I’ve been witness to large areas of skittish fish boiling on the top along the flats, refusing most offerings. Occasionally, a fly or lure change would produce a few fish in succession, followed by another snubbing, however on several outings the number of fish evident in the water far outweighed the ones that ended up on the line. When the fish get fussy, I’ve found smaller lures and flies to get more attention, but often times it can be quite frustrating to find something that interests the fish.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had several excellent outings with many keeper-sized stripers landed and released as well as a few terrific mornings chasing bluefish around just outside the mouth of the Merrimack.

Drifting both the outgoing and incoming tide around the #11 and #13 channel markers produced nice fish, mostly on slowly retrieved flies offered on a fast sinking line. Sluggo’s rigged on a lead-head and dragged slowly along the bottom also produced several nice sized bass. Nighttime anglers tempting fish with live eels have produced big striped bass as well.

As mentioned, the bluefish have showed up and provided some fun for both shore and boat anglers. Bluefish have been taken all the way up on the flats, as well as in the mouth of the river and all along the beachfront. Top water lures produced the most action, but bluefish tend not to be discriminating when hungry, so metal and soft plastic lures also worked quite well. Don’t forget that wire leader!


Kay Moulton and crew at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island have weighed in several big fish over the last week. A lucky angler recently weighed in a surf-caught striped bass that tipped the scales at 36 pounds. In addition, a boat fisherman drifting in the river hooked a 25-pound striped bass. On June 30th, a 28-pound striped bass was caught from shore on Kay’s “can’t miss” clams.

Anglers targeting flounder have had success just outside the mouth of the Merrimack, and also just off the Plum Island beaches. Worms offered on the bottom seemed to be the ticket to hooking one of these delicious flat fish.


Charter boats are having good results lately with many market sized cod being landed. Reports from Stellwagon Bank and Jefferies Ledge are good with fish in the 30-pound range being landed. Haddock have also been in the mix, but mackerel activity has slowed, probably due to the arrival of the bluefish.

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