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Capt. Skip Montello (email)
(508)395-5871 Rockport
Capt. Al Montello
(978)363-5786 W. Newbury
Guide Steve Papows (call Skip)
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Friday Report 10-10-2014
The striper fishing is beginning to wind down as most of the schoolies seemed to have moved out of Plum Island sound and out to the bay. We had schoolie action out along the rock-fronts and coves along Rockport earlier this week. others have reported good feeds off Wingaersheek Beach the past two mornings with a bunch of schoolies moving through the Annisquam and out into Gloucester Harbor. Reports from the Merrimack indicate a lot of bait present but no stripers. Your best bet is to get out along the Manchester beaches this weekend as the schoolies are moving quickly south. Water temps are down in the mid 50's as of this morning. The local tuna boats are getting tuna just off Rockport at the S/W corner of Jefferies.

This is most likely the final Friday Report of the season, but don't go away just yet....I'm heading to Key West for a few days next week and hope to get tight to a tarpon or two. We're also heading out to Western NY later in the month. Stay Well, Stay Tight!

Friday Report 10-3-2014
This past week has not been friendly to boat and surf anglers alike with big surf and large waves driven by a relentless northeast wind. However, the latest reports indicate that Plum Island sound to Steep Hill still have good numbers of feeding schoolies present. The N/E winds should be lying down and shifting to the west later in the weekend so boat fishing and surf fishing should once again be manageable. Gloucester harbor has also showed some action this past week with schoolies chasing baitfish behind 10 Pound Island and at Niles beach. Water temps are holding in the upper 50's and the abundant bait should keep the action going for at least another week or two, maybe more. See below a short video shot last Monday before the weather came in. The Ocean Lures Surface Swimming Baitfish is still the hot topwater go to plug.

Friday Report 9-26-2014
The striper fishing this past week was "on again, off again", but was very good when it was on. The surf gang did well a few mornings at the rock-fronts along Gloucester's back shore with some 40 + inch stripers taking topwater plugs at first light.

Lot's of schoolies chasing bait in Plum Island sound and within the Annisquam backwaters. The oceanside bait is coming and going with the stripers. If you want to get in on the bite this weekend head out to Middle Ground in Plum Island sound and watch the birds, they'll lead the way. Soft plastics, flies and topwater plugs will get it done.

Friday Report 9-19-2014
Here and just about gone this week. The big first push of south travelling stripers is now history as many anglers were left scratching their heads this past week wondering if we'll see another push. It's all going to depend on the schools of baitfish as most of the bait we saw a week or so ago has also departed. However, most of the locals agree that we are seeing a gap in the migration and we can look forward to more stripers coming and going over the next few weeks (fingers crossed) so long as the bait comes this way. In years past we have had gaps but we also had a solid population of resident fish to keep us happy between blitzes, but their numbers have been significantly reduced through lack of catch and release by rec and comm anglers. It's time to think "TBTK... Too Big To Keep" ! In the meantime, good numbers of stripers and bait are still present in the backwaters of Plum Island and Ipswich so we should see another push real soon as the recent colder weather has begun to drop water temps. Practice CPR!
Friday Report 9-12-2014
Good news! The fall migration is underway at Cape Ann, lot's of baitfish and mixed sized schools of stripers in hot pursuit. The surf guys have had several good days this past week catching (and releasing) some real big cows up to 49 inches on topwater plugs. Several boat anglers have done well throughout the daylight hours chasing down fast moving schools of stripers up and down the Cape Ann rock fronts from Rockport clear down to Manchester. The baitfish include mackerel, silver sides and sandeels. I had several quality stripers slamming flies and soft plastics Friday morning. I found fish working under birds from Straitsmouth to the Gloucester backshore. The persistent on-shore winds have created a significant swell so great care must be taken as the stripers are pushing the bait tight to the rocks. I don't know how long we'll have with these stripers as water temps are dropping quickly and they are on the move - so now is the time to get out.

Friday Reports
Sorry guys for the lack of reports the past two months. The fishing over that period has been very slow and really not worth reporting on. But with the summer pattern beginning to transition to an early fall pattern, I will resume weekly reports when the local fishing shows any signs of migration.

Opportunity for Angler Input on Two Recreational Fisheries Issues. Your opinions matter! Below are two important issues for Massachusetts recreational fisheries for which public comment is being sought. MarineFisheries encourages you to get involved in the management of YOUR recreational saltwater fisheries by providing your views. The public meeting is scheduled for 9-2-2014 at 6PM at the Mass. Marine Fisheries Office located at 30 Emerson Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930, (978) 282-0308. Please join the meeting and voice your opinion.

1) Striped Bass Management Measures in 2015 The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission – which coordinates management of shared fisheries resources along the Atlantic Coast – is accepting public comment on proposed revisions to the interstate management plan for Atlantic striped bass. Draft Addendum IV proposes reducing fishing mortality because even though overfishing is not occurring, spawning stock biomass has been steadily declining below the target level since 2006 and is projected to fall below the threshold level due to a series of years with poor juvenile production. While recreational harvest of striped bass in Massachusetts has not changed appreciably with the decline in the stock, recreational catch (including both harvested and released fish) has fallen by roughly 75% since 2006, a trend anglers like you have likely noticed. In response, the draft addendum offers a range of management options to reduce both commercial and recreational harvest throughout the striped bass’ range beginning in 2015. Specific options under consideration include various bag and size limit combinations for the recreational fishery and quota reductions for the commercial fishery. Please read the addendum for more information.

2) National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy NOAA Fisheries ( is developing a national policy on saltwater recreational fisheries to outline a set of principles to guide the agency’s management actions and decisions over the long term. The new policy will make clear the values NOAA Fisheries will keep in mind when implementing the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the legislation that governs fisheries management in federal waters. The policy will also serve as the underpinning to the agency’s recreational fishing Action Agenda. NOAA Fisheries would like to know your thoughts on what should be in the policy. Comments will be accepted through September 12. Click here for more information, including how to submit comments.

Friday Report 7-18-2014
I wish I had a better report....but I don't. The Cape Ann bite is well off of what it should be with regard to numbers. But if you put in the time, especially before sun up, you will have a shot at some keeper sized fish along the beaches and rock fronts. Steve and Brian continue to grab some nice fish for their efforts at various locations, no single area has been hot or better than another, just put in the time and move to other spots after a few casts. Commercial guys are taking some bigger fish out in the deeper water at Halibut and off the groaner in Gloucester, but even their trip numbers are down. Gloucester Harbor is showing an occasional morning and late afternoon surface feed near Wonson Cove and off Niles Beach. There has also been a pretty squid bite near the State Pier. Local water temps continue cold at around 52 degrees so that may be a contributing factor to why bluefish have yet to show.

The Merrimack and Plum Island beach continue to be the most consistent bite to be found. Plenty of bait is keeping the stripers in place. The night flats fishing has also improved with quality fish being had drifting live eels on the tide drop. That's it! CPR please!

Friday Report 7-11-2014
The Cape Ann bite has slowed significantly with the best action happening early morning. A very few larger bass are being had on live macks in Gloucester Harbor at the usual spots and along the backside of Thacher in Rockport. It's going to be a long summer especially since we're not seeing bluefish as yet. Brian and others reported a slowdown in and around Crane, Sandy Point and the Ipswich River mouth as well. As a side note the commercial gang are also finding few keeper sized bass and the catch quota is well below expected.

However, the Merrimack continues to enjoy the company of lot's of stripers, albeit that the actual bite is on again and off again. The bass need only open their mouths to feed with tons of sandeels to munch on. Again, best time to get a tight line is at first light or otherwise you will have to run and gun out along the beach front for the sporadic feeding blitzes under the birds. I have no word on the Joppa night fishing.

Friday Report 7-4-2014
Steve and Brian have been out and about just about every morning over the past week and they are picking some stripers here and there. Brian been fishing near the Essex River mouth and has been into stripers most every morning, not big fish or big numbers. Steve has done well fishing early at the local beaches, again not anything special with numbers or size. You're gonna be working hard for a few fish!

I got out only once last week and had some fairly good action early morning up on Joppa and later at the river mouth, but again we worked hard as the Merrimack stripers are well fed as tons of sandeels provide much competition and many refusals of flies, soft stuff and topwaters. The boats dragging live macks are picking some quality stripers, especially early at the river mouth. I haven't heard of any consistent night action on Joppa but that should be changing soon with the moon tides. Happy 4th!

Friday Report 6-27-2014
The Cape Ann waters have been relatively quiet all week along the shore while some boat anglers dragging live bait have done better with larger stripers. It's going to be a long summer for shore bound surf guys with too few quality stripers to chase their topwater plugs. Most of the action has been in the deeper water in the usual spots off Gloucester and Rockport. Ipswich Bay has been on again off again, inside and outside, over the past week with a mix of schoolies and some fish around 40 inches.

The Merrimack and flats continue to fish well, again with a mix of small schoolies and some quality keepah quality fish. We have been taking most our stripers on flies and soft plastics with other anglers doing well with cut and live bait. We are also starting to see some drop back herring beginning their return to the salt. The river mouth and nearby sand bars both north and south of the river mouth are hosting tons of sandeels so the stripers are well fed and can become picky after brief all out blitzes. I expect more stripers to arrive and hang for a while as the table is set and the ocean water holding in the upper 50's. Big tides coming up and they should produce some quality night fishing inside and outside.

Jona with one of several quality stripers fly caught last Monday

Alicia (her first keepah by way of the fly!) and Bob (dad's Father's Day Gift) with a few of their super Friday morning at the river mouth.
Friday Report 6-20-2014
With the big initial push of migration fish all but over, the catch numbers have dropped significantly from just a week ago. The huge school of the 2011 year class schoolies have now dispersed up and down the north coast leaving behind a void of continuous light tackle action. The light tackle angling has become quite challenging for anglers tossing flies or lures, we are working hard for a few takes from the remaining stripers as the fierce competitive feeding behavior of a week ago has waned. The bait anglers on the other hand are still catching (and keeping) a fair number of quality stripers, far too many to sustain a reasonable bite through the summer. I wish some anglers would become more educated about the long term value of catch and release instead of catch and kill, oh well! The mackerel live liners and chunk bait anglers are enjoying a steady bite at the river mouth while anchored up boats on Joppa, pitching chum with their chunks, are limiting out quickly.

The Cape Ann and Ipswich Bay bite has also declined this past week as reported by Brian O'C and Steve P. who have fished the beachfronts and backwaters most everyday this past week. But again the bait anglers are taking quite a few big stripers from boats and shore locations within Gloucester Harbor. The good weather this weekend will see a huge number of anglers at the Merrimack and around Cape Ann so you won't be alone. CPR!

Bill F. with a nice light tackle striper, CPR'd
Friday Report 6-13-2014
The striper fishing at the Merrimack River remained very strong all week . The morning bite was exceptional each day with stripers pushing sandeels and small herring up river to the 11 green can for an hour or so. The early morning rising tide produced the best action as the dropping tide was impacted by the bright sun and Gin clear water on Joppa. We had some good results out at the river mouth and upstream in the backwater around Deer Island. On Friday I had Den Kelly aboard tagging stripers and along with Murray from the west coast, they landed at least 50 stripers, tagging 37 . The stripers ranged from 16 to 35 inches. Best bet baits were soft plastics, weighed and un-weighed in white or olive, sandeel and baitfish patterned flies and topwater plugs like the OL surface swimming herring, the MD sandeel and the Rapala -Xwalk .

The Cape Ann bite slowed as the week went on and especially after the mid week cold front shifted the wind direction. The Annisquam backwater has become inundated with biting midge flies so be sure you got wind before heading out on the marsh. Brian O'c reported slow fishing at Crane and Castle Neck and as well, the bugs were the worst he has seen in years.

Rick W. above sent this pic of a nice one he got from his kayak
Den Kelly tagging a schoolie
Friday Report 6-7-2014
Stripers and more stripers everywhere, from Cape Ann to Saco, ME. The mix now includes some fish to over 40 inches...sorry no pics, but Steve P. landed three 40+ from the beach this morning using the Ocean Lures Surface Swimming Herring (he'd kill me if I said what beach). We had excellent fishing all week on Joppa with a good mix of schoolies to mid 30 inch stripers. We did better tossing sandeel flies than with soft plastics. Should be good coming week of fishing. Backwaters are full of no-seeums so bring the repellent!

Guy with a nice 34 incher taken on his own tied fly ( with Capt Al)
Friday Report 5-30-2014
This past week of striper fishing found tons of small schoolie bass (with an occasional keeper sized mixed in) throughout the Cape Ann backwaters and a few large pods gorging on small sandeels at area beachfronts. The same was true for Plum Island Sound at the Rowley and Parker River mouths. I also got out twice and fished the Merrimack from Joppa to several upriver spots as far up as the Whittier Bridge. I'm sure the stripers have moved all the way to the dam at Lawrence. Both sides of the tide top fished well with the drop giving up more hits. We were successful with weighted white soft plastics including Hogy, FinS and RonZ tails on jig heads. Best flies were baitfish streamers with lots of white and olive. Along the beachfronts we were happy to get most of our hits with topwater JM's in bone.
Below: Matt A. with very first striper on the fly, my small keeper sized Merrimack striper taken on soft plastic and Steve P. with a nice beachfront striper taken on a JM.
Practice CPR, Catch, Photo, Release----Please!

No Kill!
Friday Report 5-16-2014
The long and short of it this week is SLOW for stripers and very good for Shad. I put in 6 hours this week tossing jigs, soft plastics and flies at the Candy House with only 1 schoolie landed. Interestingly, there is a good supply of baitfish in the general area, but not many stripers to be had. I have heard of some keeper sized stripers just to the south so maybe this week we'll start seeing more and bigger fish at Cape Ann. Brian Moc has also noted the presence of bait but few stripers as well. Water temps have been rising and that should help attract more fish.

The shad bite continues very good from Rocks Village to the Lawrence dam. Also there are some keeper sized stripers in the mix at the dam (not sure if they fresh or holdovers).

My boat goes in today and I hope to get out and about on the Merrimack next week.

Final Report 2013
The 2013 Young of the Year (YOY) data has finally been released and it's not great but better than many were fearing since the 2012 YOY was less than 1.0
Here is the report; Click Here

No Kill!

North Coast Angler