August 30, 2008

Way too Early

Frank G. Dwyer
August 31, 2008

John "Jay" Bonfatti was a big man with a bigger heart. Jay died in North Falmouth, MA this past Thursday while at his parents house preparing for the annual Bonfatti Labor Day festivities. He passed away peacefully in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack at the age of 52.

My small tribute to him here is but one of thousands you can find on the web. I was lucky to know Jay through my good friend, and his brother, Andrew.

Jay was an accomplished Journalist with the Buffalo News and before that the Associated Press and a well known figure in Buffalo and beyond. Jay always had a smile on his face and could make anyone feel welcome. Andrew and I took many a road trip to Buffalo to crash on Jay's floor and watch our beloved Patriots play the Bills.

Years ago when I got my first paid gig writing a fishing column for the Daily News in Newburyport, Jay was one of the first to reach out with congratulations.

I'll miss the two or three times a year I would get to see Jay.

August 28, 2008

Still some good August fishing before fall frenzy

Frank G. Dwyer

Labor Day's arrival combined with the cool air of late has anglers, and probably their targets, thinking about the Fall Migration and the aggressive feed that is to come.

We are still weeks away from the true Fall frenzy, but fishing has been quite good this August and anglers will find many options throughout the North Shore.

Marblehead: (3 hooks) Fishing is still the best around first light and after dark for Bass, with some bigger fish in the mix for surfcasters off the Neck. Anglers have also found keeper bass from the area beaches utilizing cut bait and large plugs.
Salem: (3 hooks) Bass and Blues continue to be taken from Salem Harbor and out into Salem Sound as bait, fly and spin anglers all report good action. Early morning and dusk have seen surface feeds just outside the harbor as well as off Winter Island. Blues have been aggressively hitting popping plugs and neighed sluggos with a vengeance.

Beverly: (3 hooks) There is shortage of bass and bluefish along the Beverly coast as fishermen from shore and boat report good action for blues and stripers. Fishing the Danvers River continues to produce good numbers of bass, with a few decent sized keepers in the mix, especially at night.

Cape Ann: (4 hooks) Fishing around the Cape has been more reminiscent of Fall than late summer as blues and bass have been blitzing from Magnolia to Essex. While most fish are mid-sized, there are some big ones in the mix with 15-pound blues being taken. Tuna fishing has been good off Gloucester with over 20 school bluefins and a couple of giants landed in the recent Tuna Tag Tourney. Bluefish have also been quite prevalent and have been providing good action all around Gloucester from the beaches out to the Breakwater and beyond. Party boats continue to do well ground fishing.
Ipswich: (3 hooks) Steep Hill and Crane Beaches have been somewhat hit or miss this week, with occasional fish showing just outside the designated swimming area as well as towards the Essex side. Bluefish continue to be quite thick in Ipswich Bay. Pavilion Beach is worth a look at night.
Newbury: (4 hooks) The entire beach at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is open for walk on surf casters and Drive on access will begin on Saturday, August 30th. The reservation continues to see good action for bass and blues with Lot's six and seven seeing the most action over the last week. Plum Island Sound and the Parker River are also fishing well.
Newburyport / Plum Island: (4 hooks) Fishing around the Port continues to be good as stripers to 40 pounds have been landed this past week. While Joppa had a bit of a lull the last couple of weeks, anglers are finding cooperating fish with sluggos, plugs and live eels at night. Drifting the mouth with bait filet's has been productive for both bass and large bluefish. Anglers have also noticed some larger fish holding in deeper holes up river from the Route 1 Bridge to the Chain Bridge, chasing some Pogies that have taken up residence. Bluefish have been blitzing the beaches in the early morning hours while flounder fishing has waned. Party boat captains continue to please their patrons with consistent market size catches of cod and haddock.

Salisbury: (4 hooks) There have been sporadic surface blitzes off Salisbury beach at a variety of locations with blues and bass from 24 — 32 inches in the mix. It really is a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but first light is your best bet. The riverbank at the State Reservation has continued to offer good chances for both blues and stripers.

New Hampshire Seacoast, N.H.: (4 hooks) Bait fishermen using chunk bait have been doing well off Hampton and Rye as stripers have been feeding quite consistently. Further north, Great Bay is chock full of mid-sized bass and blues, while further towards the mouth of the Piscataqua, larger bass have been falling for pogie and mackerel chunks. There are still a decent amount of pogies enticing fish into the river and around the ledges. Tuna have been taken from as close as the Isle of Shoals out to Stellwagen Bank.

August 21, 2008

Warm Weather Brings Successful Fishing

Frank G. Dwyer

The weather has improved north of Boston and so has the fishing. Striped bass, bluefish and flounder are all biting up and down the coast for in-shore fishermen, while off shore the groundfishing and tuna fishing continue to please anglers.

Marblehead: (3 hooks) Striped bass and bluefish have been taken from the Neck this week as anglers have landed bass in the rocks using Sluggos, swimming lures and baitfish imitation flies.

Salem: (3 hooks) Bluefish have taken over in Salem Sound so pogies and mackerel have become scarce. Still the blues are willing to tighten your line and can be found in most areas in the Sound. Striped bass fishing continues to please early morning and night anglers. Bait and large Danny plugs have been working best.
Beverly: (3 hooks) Bluefish should be easy to find around Beverly Harbor, but bass will take more patience. Fishing the Kernwood Bridge area has been productive at night for bass anglers, with most success coming on cut bait or eels. Bluefish have been blitzing the West Beach area at first light.
Cape Ann: (4 hooks) Bluefish are plentiful on the Cape, especially around Annisquam Light. Bluefish have also been hot off Coffin Beach. Swimming Rapala lures and popping plugs have been attracting the fish, but they'll take most any offering. Striped bass fishing continues to be best at night, with some of the deeper holes up river in the Annisquam producing keeper bass. Tuna have been cooperating out on Stellwagen. Closer to shore, school tuna have been reported just past Thacher Island and near Andrews Point.

Ipswich: (3 hooks) The lack of bluefish is a distant memory as Ipswich Bay is loaded with blues, mostly in the 5- to 7-lb range. Striped Bass fishing has slowed some, but anglers working Crane and Steep Hill have found school bass at night.
Newbury: (3 hooks) Bluefish have been blitzing the beaches at the Parker River Wildlife Refuge with some consistency at sun-up this week. Anglers have found the fish to be in the 5- to 7-pound range. Plum Island Sound continues to produce good bluefish and some bass action.

Newburyport / Plum Island: (3 hooks) Joppa Flats continues to fish well, with school-size bass being taken on both incoming and outgoing tides, especially around the AYC moorings. The mouth of the river has been good for anglers drifting the outgoing tide and bouncing bait filets off the bottom. Some flounder remain just off the Plum Island beach front, but the action has slowed. Party boats have reported decent action for cod and haddock but avoiding the dogfish is key.

Salisbury: (3 hooks) Early morning bluefish blitzes have been reported from Beach Access 2 to Beach Access 8 on Salisbury Beach. Anglers fishing near the North Jetty from the shores of the State Reservation report good action for bluefish and bass.

New Hampshire Seacoast: (3 hooks) Striper fishing has slowed a bit in the Granite State, but your best bet is bouncing cut bait along the bottom of the river. Bluefish are in thick from Hampton to Portsmouth and out to the Isles of Shoals. Chunk bait has also been working at night for anglers working Hampton and Rye beaches. Flounder continue to be available around Rye Harbor.

Tip of the week:

Find the Flatties: Flounder are bottom feeder so fishermen should always use enough weight to stay on the bottom. If you want to try casting and retrieving, it is best to retrieve with your rod tip down, so your hook and bait will stay closer to the sea bottom.

August 17, 2008

Water Murky But Fish Still Active

Frank G. Dwyer

Heavy rains have local rivers running high and murky, however fishing remains fairly good for North Shore anglers.

Bass, Bluefish and Flounder are still being caught regularly while off shore the ground fishing and tuna bite continues to please fishermen.

Marblehead: (3 hooks) Fishing around Marblehead has been consistent for plump school-sized bass. Soft plastics and small swimming plugs have been attracting these fish, especially at first light. Bait fishermen report decent sized bass from Devereaux Beach at night.

Salem: (3 hooks) Bluefish are making up for their late arrival and tearing it up in Salem Sound. As usual, these fish will take most offerings with some bruisers in the mix. Winter Island has been producing good-sized bass for anglers slinging eels at night. Mackerel are still schooling off shore.

Beverly: (3 hooks)
Blues and bass are competing for bait and anglers are finding fish on the Kernwood flats and from the Pier. The Salem/Beverly Bridge has been yielding keepers at night for bait fishermen. Early morning at West Beach is also a good bet.

Cape Ann: (4 hooks) School sized bass have been taken along the Manchester and Magnolia coast as anglers report feisty, fat schoolies willing to take small baitfish imitation flies and soft plastics. Bass have been more active in the Annisquam of late, while bluefish have been scattered all over Cape Ann. Anglers looking for larger bass in deeper water around Halibut Point and Thachers have found slow fishing. Reports have tuna as close as 3 miles off the Cape, with the best bluefin catches coming from the Southwest and Northwest corners of Stellwagen Bank, with some larger fish in the mix.
Ipswich: (3 hooks) Bluefish have made their way to Ipswich and have been taken from Crane and Pavilion Beaches. Striped bass fishing has been somewhat slow from Crane Beach, with Steephill offering a better option for surf casters.

Newbury: (3 hooks)
Plum Island Sound has seen good surface feeds over the last week with both bass and bluefish taking poppers, swimming plugs and flies like Puglisi’s and Deceivers. Bluefish and bass have been cooperating for anglers fishing from the wildlife refuge.

Newburyport / Plum Island: (3 hooks) The striper bite has been fairly consistent around Newburyport. Joppa Flats and the mouth of the Merrimack have been fishing well for both surfcasters working plugs across the top as well as for anglers using chunk bait or clams. The oceanfront has yielded some bass and blues over the past week with sluggos on lead heads and large top water plugs working well. Bluefish have been more active this past week, especially just outside the mouth of the river. Party boats report decent catches of cod and haddock.

Salisbury, MA: (3 hooks) The story is the same on the Salisbury side of the Merrimack as blues and bass have been taken from the shores of the State Park, particularly on the first part of the incoming tide. Bluefish have been close to shore off Salisbury Beach.

Seacoast, NH: (3 hooks) Tuna fever has hit the Granite State as schools of tuna have been reported about 10 miles off the Isle of Shoals. Bluefish have also arrived in New Hampshire and have been reported from the Piscataqua to Great Bay. Flounder fishing around Rye continues to be consistent and striped bass continue to be caught from Hampton to Portsmouth.
Tip of the Week:

Circle Hooks Work: If you plan on releasing your catch on a given outing, try to use circle hooks instead of standard hooks. The circle hooks shape drastically decreases the probability of a “gut-hook” and almost always results in a perfect hook in mouth of your target.

August 8, 2008

Stripers, Tuna, Bluefish and Floundrer, Oh Yes!

Frank G. Dwyer
Publication Date: August 8, 2008

Marblehead: (3 hooks) Bluefish are in the mix now outside the harbor, around the Neck and off Devereux Beach. Anglers report good bluefish hits on large Balistic Missiles and Ranger plugs as well as large metals. Bass continue to cooperate at night.

Salem: (3 hooks) Bluefish, striped bass and flounder have all been landed this week in the Salem environs. Fishing near the Salem-Beverly Bridge has been productive at night while anglers fishing from Winter Island and around the harbor have found decent action for bass and bluefish. Flounder have been somewhat spotty, but persistent worm dunkers will find their table fare.

Beverly: (3 hooks)
Fishing near the Kernwood Bridge and Danvers River areas has been better this week as there has been a somewhat steady pick of decent sized bass. The area around West Beach has also been fishing well with good bass action.

Cape Ann: (4 hooks) Offshore, school bluefin tuna have been taken from the northwest corner of Stellwagen Bank as well as closer to Thachers Island with additional reports of small tuna busting near the Groaner outside the harbor last week. Bass fishing has been decent for fish in the 22-26” range, with the occasional cow in the mix. Rockport beaches have been producing good bass action at night for anglers using both cut bait and large plugs.

Ipswich: (3 hooks) Fishing has been hit or miss around Ipswich this week with a few surface feeds reported around the mouth of the Ipswich. Crane Beach has been slow, as the bait has thinned out. Some bluefish are starting to appear in Ipswich Bay.

Newbury: (3 hooks) Parking Lots 1, 6 and 7 remain open to walk on fishermen at the Parker River NWR with drive on access still a few weeks off. Plum Island Sound has had several surface feeding bass blitzes over the last week and decent bluefish action.

Newburyport / Plum Island: (4 hooks) Bluefish have shown up at the mouth of the Merrimack and along the ocean beaches. While not as thick as last year at this time, the choppers have finally shown in decent numbers. Stripers continue to cooperate with anglers, but larger fish are really only available at night. Anglers have done well with eels on Joppa Flats as well as drifting the mouth of the river. Party Boats report decent ground fishing but the crews are working hard to evade dogfish.

Salisbury, MA: (3 hooks) Bluefish and bass are pleasing surfcasters from the shores of the State Reservation. Bluefishing has been better by boat, but they remain available to the land locked angler who can toss a large plug a decent distant. Bass fishing from the Reservation continues to be best at night.

Seacoast, NH: (4 hooks) Bluefish have made their way to the Granite State and reports have them cooperating with anglers from Seabrook to Hampton Harbor. Further north, flounder remain active around Rye Harbor and in Portsmouth, bass continue to feed from Great Bay out to the Isle of Shoals.

Tip of the Week:

Beach Bucket: Surfcasters have many ways to carry their weaponry however I find for a long night on the beach, a 5-gallon bucket with drilled holes strategically placed just below the rim of the bucket to be a great plug and gear tote. Plugs can be hung from the drilled holes and gear and bait placed inside the bucket.