North Coast Angler
Fishing Reports 2013

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Fishing Report: 8-23-2013
The overall summer pattern has begun to wane as water temps have dropped some 8 degrees over the past two weeks. The available stripers have become more aggressive and more willing to chase down a topwater or fly. The fall pattern has yet to emerge as we're not seeing any migratory baitfish. The striper action has been very good and steady over the past week as we enjoyed several successful outings in and around Rockport, Ipswich Bay and Gloucester. Folks aboard my boat this past week enjoyed some excellent and surprising action with some quality stripers pushing as large as 40 inches to an amazing 2 pound 14 ounce Cunner (the world record is 3pound -8oz)(see pic)


Keely (with slab Cunner) and Tim with their stripers (all released)


Steve with several topwater caught(and released) stripers

The surf fishing locals have done well fishing the rocks and beaches with a few quality fish mixed with schoolies. The live mack anglers are also picking up some quality bass at Cape Ann and even more along the beachfront at Plum Island. T here are still plenty of mackerel available since the bluefish have yet to bare their teeth in any numbers thus far. Best bet this weekend is early mornings with light tackle and anytime with live bait as the stripers are eager to feed with these lower water temps.


Joe W. and Clint with two slobs that fell to trolled macks along the PI beachfront

Fishing Report: 8-18-2013
Sorry about the late fishing report, been busy with other stuff. Well the bottom line is slow but improving! The shore bite at Crane, Rockport and Gloucester has been slowly picking up with an occasional surface feed here and there. Steve and Brian have been getting some quality fish most every morning this past week. This stripers have been a bit more aggressive when a well presented topwater bait comes their way. I got out Sunday morning with Todd H. and his 10 yo daughter Caleigh and as is usually the case with Todd aboard we were able to coax 8-10 stripers to eat an Ocean Lures Surface Swimming Herring in the olive back. We found the stripers tight to reef structure, in the suds, at various rock fronts near Salt Island, no one spot in particular. None of the stripers exceeded 32 inches but super catching with very light action rods. There are still mackerel to be had and the live liners were out in force this weekend but I didn't see any big fish taken. Bluefish have been scarce and I haven't heard of anyone taking any inshore. The water temps have come down some with the cooler nights and reduced daylight so here's hoping the summer slowdown is coming to an end.


Todd and Caleigh

Fishing Report: 8-9-2013
Things are just really slow from the Merrimack to Cape Ann. Bluefish are spotty and bass even more so, we'll just have to wait for the cooler waters of fall or until substantial quantities of baitfish return. There are stripers holed up along the rocks at Cape Ann, mostly small fish with just a few keeper sized in the mix. The commercial crew are taking some better sized stripers but even they are complaning about the lack of stripers in the local water. The secenario in Cape Cod waters is different as there seem to be more fish to the south at the Cape Cod Canal and off Chatham as commercial landing reports would indicate. It has also been noted that the current commercial season is closed (temporary?) with a quota number at 85% filled. Best bet for the weekend; fish early, before sunrise to just after, along the shore near structure, topwaters is the best bet.
Fishing Report: 7-27-2013
Not a whole lot has changed from last week except maybe the weather....YUK.The overall striper action from Cape Ann to Plum Island has changed little as the on again off again pattern continues with the stripers settling into their mid summer feeding behavior. Bluefish have not showed in big numbers but that should begin to change as we near the end of July. The shore guys at Cape Ann are getting into some action early mornings along the rocks and beaches and the boat guys are also picking some keeper fish dragging macks or pogies. With the weekend weather improving, so might the catching...watch for residual big surf along Cape Ann and monster waves at the Merrimcak River mouth.


Fishing Report: 7-19-2013
The summer heat is on and the inshore water temps have pushed into the 70's and as a result the striper fishing has begun to slow down significantly. Just about everybody has seen their catch numbers decline from the very solid bite of a month ago. The local Cape Ann harbors are only yielding a few quality fish here and there to the live bait anglers. And even the mackerel are becoming scarce with the warmer water. There are however, tons of bait sized Pollock available to fill the live well. Some of the local shore fisherman reported few stripers with the occasional bluefish to jazz things up. The best guess as to where the big stripers have gone is out to deeper water chasing macks, herring and whiting in the cooler water. We should begin to see an improving bluefish bite anytime now and the best bets for finding them are around Halibut and Andrews points in Rockport; especially first thing in the morning.


Eric L. with a nice fatty he landed and released using a topwater JM last weekend at Manchester Harbor

The story is the same up to the north along Crane and Plum Island beaches with few fish being taken from shore or boat. The Merrimack River mouth is still yielding a few quality stripers for the anglers drifting live macks on the tide drop at the river mouth. The water up on the flats is just way to warm (pushing 80+)to sustain any sort of striper bite beyond the very top of the tide. I did get out last week and found a good bite happening at the Plum Island and Merrimack River confluence, but most of the stripers were dinks, but fun on light tackle. I ran the beach to the south for several miles without seeing any bird action whatsoever. I did manage a few small keeper sized stripers on the fly at the tip of the north jetty before the tide turned out with warmer water, but that was it.


Fishing Report: 7-12-2013
This week's fishing report is much like last weeks in that the best Cape Ann fishing was again inside the Gloucester Harbor with numerous bait blitzes throughout the week. The stripers are chasing schools of mackerel, small herring and now some small squid have been reported. The other bright spot has been bluefish showing along the back shore, especially early mornings. There has been some good striper action reported at both ends of the Annisquam as well. Early morning action with topwaters and cut bait during day.

At Plum Island, the stripers are running and gunning the school of herring up and down the entire length of the beachfront. So persistence and good eyesight will be the key to finding them on any given day. The striper action at the river mouth has been waning as the remaining stripers are keyed in on the abundant sandeels and are a bit difficult to coax to a fly or other baits. The flats are still producing some night action on eels but during the day, only a few dinks can be found up on the flats. Daytime water temperatures on the flats are approaching 80 degrees, not striper friendly.

Best bets this weekend are Gloucester Harbor at the beaches and rock fronts at the Castle.The Manchester,Magnolia Beaches, Crane Beach in the deeper water and Plum Island beach. Watch the birds... they'll show you where!


Reid and Miriam with two nice stripers taken with topwaters along Plum Island


Fishing Report: 7-5-2013
I only got out fishing just one morning this past week (at Plum Island) so I don't have a whole lot of intel to pass along. This is what I do know;
The Cape Ann fishing is settling in to its usual summer pattern with the best bite happening in the mornings. Gloucester Harbor continues to fish fairly good along the various beaches and a few anglers are taking some big fish outside the harbor at the Woe and groaner. Best bait continues to be live mac's. Some big blues are also in the mix here and there but not big numbers as yet. Steve P and Brianmoc reported spotty action around fishtown and at Rockport, however Brian and buds had a few good mornings at Crane with one big striper pushing the tape beyond 45 inches. So plan on shifting gears to full on summer pattern; mornings with live bait or tossing plugs at the beaches.

The Merrimack and Joppa are running really stained and foul as last week's torrents are flowing brown on the flats and at the mouth. We did manage a few dinks on the flats Tuesday but had our best luck running and gunning the beachfront with topwaters. A few guys were taking some quality fish drifting live or dead mac's on the dropping tide at the mouth. I have also heard that the night shift anglers are starting to get some action at the tide top drifting eels on Joppa. So indeed the summer pattern is taking shape there as well. That's all I got!


Dave B with a quality striper taken using a topwater


Matching the hatch with the abundant sandeels


Fishing Report: 6-28-2013
The striper fishing over the past week can best be described as "up and down" from Cape Ann to the Plum Island. The most consistent Cape Ann bite has been in Gloucester Harbor and just outside at the groaner. Live macks and cut herring have been producing some quality stripers for boat anglers and shore fisherman. Several nice plump stripers have been taken at the state fish pier in Gloucester on cut bait while other anglers are catching good numbers of small Pollock, mackerel and an occasional squid from various inner harbor piers using Sabiki rigs tipped with bait. The boat anglers out at the groaner are taking a few quality stripers on cut bait and live lining macks. The same has been true for harbor locations. The rock front spots around Cape Ann have slowed somewhat as compared to the past few weeks. Also, but unconfirmed, some big blues have begun to show to the east of Thacher.

Plum Island and the Merrimack flats have also been up and down, but still lot's of stripers around. We fished several days since last weekend with some days better than others, but did find feeding fish on all days. Capt Al did well throughout last weekend on the flats and out front. Dave B and Gerry C had an excellent day on Wednesday finding stripers on Joppa feeding on small crabs. They downsized their baits to small flies and cashed in landing good numbers of stripers including many keeper sized fish. We did well on Monday and Thursday, on the flats and the river mouth. The live line gang continued to hammer good numbers of stripers drifting at the river mouth and trolling macks along the beachfront. The stripers are still feeding heavily on sandeels so matching your baits will produce consistent action.


Jona R. with a nice fly caught striper


Tom H with one of several stripers taken at the river mouth


Fishing Report: 6-21-2013
The overall fishing over the past week has been one of "transition", from very good at the beginning of the week to just fair from mid week on. That's not to say that "all" locations from Cape Ann to the Merrimack River were off, but Joppa Flat was affected negatively by the heavy rainfall and the stripers that were up on the flat moved to cleaner water outside at the river mouth and along the beaches north and south. We had a very good day Monday fishing flies , topwaters and soft plastics just outside the river mouth. The river mouth was again super clogged with all sort of boats drifting, trolling or anchored up and catching stripers with live macks, clams or chunks, a very scary place!Later in the week I had the good fortune to fish with Capt Paul Rogato and we got to fish a few of his new 2013 line up of surface plugs. These new plugs were a blast to fish with as the stripers would track and smack the plug until they owned it! Watch the video. These plugs are available at Fin & Feather, Surfland and First Light Anglers.


Ocean Lures (new for) 2013


Brad and Keith, Flies and OL Sandeel Plug


Guy W, out with Capt Al

The Cape Ann bite continued fairly good along the shore to very good in Gloucester Harbor and the Annisquam. The guys fishing many of the harbor piers with clam and chunk bait were catching good numbers of schoolies and a fair number of keeper sized fish as well.

The Essex backwaters also fished well toward the latter part of the week as did Crane Beach. The guys fishing live macks along the beachfront were well rewarded with their effort as a good number of stripers from 36-42 inches were landed. Brian also did well in the backwaters lading several nice fat stripers also using the new Surface Swimming Baitfish and SP from Ocean Lures.


Fishing Report: 6-14-2013
The striper action overall continues very good from Cape Ann to the Merrimack River. Stripers ranging in size from "dinks" of 8 inches to keeper sized fish pushing 40+ inches.

The Candy House at Little River continues to provide local anglers with fair action using small topwaters, metals and soft plastics. Most of the stripers are of the dink variety, but a few up to 25 inches are being taken. If you plan to fish there this weekend, bring along the bug spray as the "no-seeums" are also biting and especially fierce when the wind is light. The oceanside action is also picking up with catches being reported from the boat and shore anglers alike. Brian O'C reported taking (and releasing) a 40+ inch striper at mid-week in an undisclosed shore location along the Gloucester shoreline. He also reported consistent action still happening in the Essex River backwaters. The local water temps are still running cold so I expect the stripers to continue providing some fairly good fishing this weekend in the backwaters and out front.


My nephew James catching and releasing a schoolie at Candy House

The Merrimack River flats and the Plum Island beachfront continue to produce some excellent striper action for fisherman using all sort of tackle and techniques. The anglers fishing up on the flats are taking stripers by way of the fly, soft plastics and plugging. Joe W. also reported that the shad and striper fishing up at the dam continues to be very good; it may be a good place to fish this weekend if you want to avoid the crowds.


Joe W at the below the Lawrence dam

Out at the river mouth the bait and trolling boats are taking good numbers of stripers and putting far too many in the their coolers---just saying! While the light tackle anglers are having way more fun catching and "releasing" their stripers on flies, soft plastic tipped jigs, and plugs. Last Sunday Capt Al did quite well along the beachfront with flies and topwaters as the stripers continue to gorge on tons of sandeels.


Capt Al with Carrisa and Jason

I got out on Monday and Wednesday and did well both up on the flats and out at the river mouth catching and releasing a good number of keeper sized stripers using jig head soft plastics and flies.


Skip and Todd H


MD Sandeel on Joppa, Monday

With good weather forecast for the weekend, you will have a ton of company out on the flats and especially at the river mouth, so be careful and practice more catch and release- please!

Fishing Report: 6-7-2013
The overall striper fishing was very good from last weekend through this week. Good numbers of stripers were available from Cape Ann to Plum Island and the Merrimack. The Cape Ann backwaters were chock full of very small schoolies, 7 to 11 inches in length and I landed about 20 in an hour at Little River on Wednesday late afternoon. I'm assuming that these stripers are from the 2011 year class and made the swim up from the Chesapeake spawning areas. Eric L. also found them there on Tuesday and as well landed a nice fluke on a fly. The Annisquam also fished well at the north end during the early part of the week with good numbers of keeper sized fish in the mix.



Another bright spot is the oceanside surf fishing is also picking up as Steve P. landed a nice fatty using a new Ocean Saltwater Lures Sandeel Plug;

Brian O'C did OK at the Essex backwaters. He also pointed out that tons of baitfish are beginning to drop back creating a food glut so the stripers are well fed and not so aggressive but will eat with angler persistence.

Up at Plum Island, Capt Al did well with his client Paul D landing quite few nice keeper fish and numerous schoolies last Sunday.


The cold front that moved through on Monday put the brakes on a bit on what had been a consistent striper bite as John C. and I found on Tuesday. We only managed half dozen schoolies before the N/W wind made for lousy flats drifts and nasty fly casting. I got out again on Thursday to scout the river mouth and flats and found lot's of stripers but many had lock jaw as I had countless follows and refusals. I suspect that the tons of bait in the river and river mouth are keeping the stripers well fed and less likely to crash an artificial bait. Even the guys drifting live macks at the river mouth were not getting too many takes either. But all in all, I did manage a dozen schoolies on flies and one nice striper that couldn't resist an MD Sandeel in shallow water.

I expect the heavy rain this weekend will most certainly negatively impact the Cape Ann backwaters and quite possibly lead to stained water out on the flats. May be best to fish the oceanside beaches.

Fishing Report: 5-24-2013
Sorry about the weekly fishing report being late, as I'm just back from Abaco, Bahamas (@ 1 this morning) hunting bonefish and tangling with big 'Cudas, huge Mutton Snappers, and the shark that ate half of the biggest bonefish of a lifetime; estimated at 34 inches and 12 pounds!


Abaco Fishing

Capt Al reported that the Merrimac and Joppa were alive all of last weekend as solid numbers of stripers were chasing tons of herring. The guys that got out to fish were well rewarded as stripers pushing 40 inches were mixed in with schoolie sized fish. Flies and soft plastics were the hot baits. Meanwhile, Cape Ann enjoyed some very good backwater fishing at the Candy House, Jones Creek and at the Essex Greenbelt areas. Most of the stripers were schoolies, but few fish in the mid 30 range were also taken. Steve P. was taking his fish with the jumping minnow, skitter pops and plastics on a jig head. Brian also did OK with fish at Crane but the Essex backwaters slowed as the rains fouled the water quality, best baits were topwater JM's and the MD sandeel.


Video from Brianmoc featuring Matt A. two weeks past


Rocco with a nice Essex backwater striper
Fishing Report: 5-17-2013
With warming temperatures finally here, the striper migration continues to build in both size and numbers throughout the greater Cape Ann area and to the north at Plum Island and the Merrimack estuary. The stripers are ranging in size from as small as 10 inches to some over 30 inches. The stripers are hitting just about any type of bait including flies, metals, jigs, soft plastics, swimming plugs and topwater twitch baits. The Little River at the Candy House has been producing stripers throughout the tide cycle, but best at the tide top and drop. The Essex River backwaters are also producing stripers for those who know their way around. There is tons of bait in the area that include herring, peanut bunker, alewife in the backwaters. Some squid and mackerel are also showing up in Gloucester Harbor. And by all reports, the fishing should steadily improve throughout the remainder of the month as lots of positive reports continue to come in from many locations to the south of Cape Ann. Stripers are also showing in good numbers at the mouth of the Merrimack and are also pushing upstream in hot pursuit of herring and shad; I won't be surprised if they begin to be caught at the Great Stone Dam in Lawrence. Also the shad run is off the charts excellent with more and more fish entering the river; I heard one report of catching as many as 20 fish per hour just below the dam at Lawrence.

If you haven't already heard, the past week has produced a few fifty plus pound stripers at RI and New Jersey. If you are a FB fan, be sure and "like" the On The Water page for daily fishing posts.


14 incher eating a 5 inch fly


Brad S. with a keeper sized striper (taken on a Jumping Minnow)


Joey G. with his first fly caught striper
5-3-2013
The shad bite is hot now with solid numbers showing up at Rocks Village, North Andover and the Stone Dam at Lawrence. A gold willow leaf spoon dropped below an 1/4 ounce egg sinker/swivel with a 18 to 24 inch leader is the ticket. Double rigged shad darts are also working...remember no lead is allowed, steel or Tungsten sinkers are acceptable.

Schoolie stripers are beginning to show up at Beverley and I have heard of schoolies showing in the Cape Ann backwaters, so this weekend we should be catching some stripers.

The offshore groundfish bite is hot out at Tillie's and the S/W corner of Jefferies with Cod, Haddock, Cusk and pollock in the mix.


Johnny L with his first of the season Shad!

4-25-2013
American are beginning to make their way up the Merrimack River and fish are being taken at Rocks Village, West Newbury, and upriver at the Stone Dam. We're not talking big numbers yet and all of the fish taken have been smallish bucks. The warmer stretch of weather and the moon tides should provide for better shad fishing through the weekend and beyond.

The groundfish season has opened and the cod bite at Jefferies and Tillie's has been quite good although the fish running on the small size, 20-30 inches. Limit is 9 per day at minimum length at 19 inches.

As of today and as far as I know, no migratory stripers have been caught at Cape Ann or Plum Island, but I will give it a go early next week and let you know!