South Shore Delights All Season Long
Overall, 2016 was a fantastic year for anglers on the South Shore. It all started off with some amazing trout fishing, and we are blessed to have such a great stocking program in Massachusetts. We concentrated our efforts around Long Pond in Plymouth and consistently put together amazing catches of brown, tiger, and rainbow trout. The numbers were great, and the quality of the fish was fantastic. We took numerous large browns in the 18- to 21-inch range – they were suckers for lively shiners fished on the bottom or under bobbers. We also had some great days throwing Yo-Zuri Pin Minnows and gold spoons.
Spring Action Started Fast
It started early for the saltwater crowd, with the mild winter allowing boaters to get prepped and in the water early. Haddock fishing on Stellwagen Bank was sensational, and I would say it was perhaps the best in my life: fifteen fish limits were the norm. Early on, the fish were in very shallow water; as the season went on, they slowly moved out to the deeper water on the eastern edge of the Bank.
The early season striper bite was red-hot in the North and South rivers. Fish in the 20- to 34-inch range followed schools of herring upriver and provided fast action starting in early May. By June 1, the larger bass had moved in and the deep-water bite around the 21 Can off Minot was very dependable. Slow-trolling mackerel produced numerous fish over 40 inches. One of our fishing team members, Justin Fein, took top honors with a beautiful 46-pound fish around July 1.
The flounder bite in Scituate Harbor was very good this year, and a typical tide would produce 8 to 12 keeper flatties and numerous throwbacks. Chumming with frozen corn and clams was the secret to big catches.
As the season progressed, bluefish invaded the area just east of the 21 Can and provided spectacular light-tackle topwater action. There were even some calm days that allowed us to get ahead of the schools and throw flies to them.
Offshore Options Arrived in Summer
By mid-July, we were headed offshore for some truly amazing combo shark- and bottom-fishing trips. The cod were so thick that many times we had to move to get away from them to target the plentiful haddock. The blue shark fishing was very consistent, but the biggest surprise this year was how many porbeagle sharks there were. By targeting these deep-water sharks with baits set down at 200 feet, we were able to land some real trophies. Michael fought a 400-pound porbeagle on a standup rod for an hour and a half before we finally landed it. Jared d’Entremont landed a nice mako shark on a bluefish fillet in the first hour of his first offshore trip ever.
In September, the tuna showed up in force – huge schools of fish from 80 to 200 pounds, and we landed several on live mackerel. The giant tuna bite was also great in late September and into October and November. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not provide many nice weekends, but the guys with heavy downeast hulls and larger boats still did very well.
Without a doubt, the hottest bite of the year for us was the deep-water bass fishing from Minot north to Boston. This fishing was even better than years past and much more consistent. Live mackerel were the secret, and many times having bait in our pen allowed us to score on days when others had to spend the best part of their morning looking for mackerel.
Outlook Positive for 2017
As we look toward 2017, the one thing I have learned over time is that every year is different. Predictions are that our winter will be more of a usual one; thus, we could have colder temperatures and a little slower start. I saw more sand eels out on Stellwagen this year, and old-timers have told me that these baitfish go through 10-year cycles, so perhaps we will see them become more abundant over the next few seasons. This would result in more gamefish on the bank, especially school tuna. With the groundfish regulations starting to make an impact, we expect to see even more cod and haddock in the upcoming year. Good times are ahead!