May 26, 2004

Memorial Day Weekend Should Produce Larger Fish

Frank G. Dwyer
May 26, 2004

This past weekend I had two very different fishing trips in two days.

Saturday began with a cold, windy and rainy trip that ended early with few fish and two very wet anglers. The temperature on Joppa Flats was in the high 40’s with a steady chop in the early dawn hours. We managed some five striped bass in three hours, with the largest hitting the tape measure at 24 inches. All fish were landed on fly rods with fast sinking lines and herring imitation flies.

At 3AM on Sunday morning I was stirred from sleep by passing thunderstorms accompanied by brilliant lightning. I was thinking fishing in an hour and half might not be happening, but luckily that was not the case.

I was on the water by 5 AM, and as I passed under the Route 1 Bridge heading towards the mouth of the river, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm it was, especially when compared to the day before. The tide was outgoing at a good clip and it appeared to be a great day to drift the edge of Joppa Flats.

Appearances turned to reality as the boat eased under the Route 1 Bridge. Fish were actively feeding on the top from just under the bridge, all the way out to the Ice Breaker. I have been known to get frustrated with the fly rod and switching to spinning gear if the fly rod does not produce quickly enough for my taste. No worries on this morning as the first cast with the long wand, and many after that, produced fish.

Once I cleared the Ice Breaker, I motored to the edge of the channel and enjoyed many drifts on the fast moving outgoing current. Numerous fish were landed on each drift, with two fish over 30 inches landed. Hopefully bigger fish will soon start to become the rule and not the exception.

Sinking lines with olive and white clousers, and grey and white deceivers all worked well. Fast, one-handed stripping of the fly line seemed to work best, however this worked best after a 5-count to let the line sink a bit.

Mid-week brought more of the same as fish stayed up on Joppa Flats during high tide and for most of the outgoing tide. Once again drifting towards the mouth of the river, a sinking line and herring imitation fly provided hours of entertainment as striped bass devoured most flies offered to them.

When I visited with Kay Moulton at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island this past Wednesday, she said many anglers were having success at Plum Island Point on clams as well as buck tail jigs and sluggo type plastics.

The ocean front continued to produce fish and anglers using any number of methods have caught fish along the entire front beach. Kay said that while she’s selling lots of bait, there’s really no reason to use it this early in the season since most lures and flies will produce fish while the striped bass continue their spring feeding frenzy.

Top water lures are also attracting stripers and that can create surface strikes that are quite something to witness. Kay suggests both Stillwater and Creek Chub top water plugs, and I can attest that they were both working well this past Wednesday out on Joppa Flats


Nat at First Light Anglers on Main Street in Rowley reported excellent fishing up and down the coast. The river systems from the Annisquam to the Parker Rivers are all producing nice fish for both spin and fly anglers.

The morning outgoing tide at Crane’s Beach has produced some large fish mixed in with the smaller striped bass, with several mornings providing surface feeding bass.

Large schools of herring and mackerel have moved in off Cape Ann and there is hope that the somewhat slower paced fishing from Beverly to Gloucester will pick up very soon.

George at Captains Fishing Parties on Plum Island reports good cod and haddock fishing, with pool fish weighing from 16 to 30 pounds over the last week. Wolfish and cusk have also been caught on trips during the last week.

Daily trips will resume on Memorial Day weekend and run throughout the summer. It’s not a bad idea to make a reservation as the boats can fill up quickly. To do so, call 1-800-427-1333.

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