Cod fishing has slowed off Montauk, so the Viking Superstar www.vikingfleet.com has moved to Quincy Massachusetts for the beginning of the Stellwagon Bank season.
When we called Joe Morris he had just returned to Lewes Harbor Bait and Tackle after spending three months fishing in the Florida Keys. "Fishing was good in the Keys," Joe reported, "but its little slow around here." As the water temperatures warm, Joe has already had reports of tog on the nearshore wrecks. Tog fishing will really fire up as the water temperature rises with the bite moving from ocean wrecks to artificial reefs in Delaware Bay. Tog are notoriously finicky, so an angler should carry a variety of baits including blue crab, green crab, sand flea, spider crab, and chowder clam. Since tog live in heavy structure, the best bet is to use a single hook dropper rig with a 3/0 to 5/0 baitholder hook and 80 pound fluorocarbon leader. We caught up with Captain John Nedelka at www.karensueboat.com for the most recent tog report. While he caught nothing last week, this week was a different story. "We had 9 keepers between 9 and 11 pounds," he said. Ofcourse, John would not hint at his location, but he did say that he was fishing in 80 to 90 feet of water. Not only have the tog shown up, but so has the bait. John found green crabs and clams were most popular with the tog.
New England is awaking from a cold winter and anglers are ready to hit the water. Luckily, the fish are ready to hit the hook and fishing season is starting out strong. Bruce at Canal Bait and Tackle in Mashpee, MA reported beautiful haddock on Georges Bank. He said that skippers are finding the fish on the East Bank in 150 to 200 feet of water. The fish are hitting fresh clam baited on a bottomrig armed with two 6/0 hooks. "They're catching good numbers of fish over the 19 inch keeper size," Bruce said. He also told us that winter flounder fishing is picking up at the east end of the canal. "Most guys are using a piece of clam on a long-shank No. 8 hook," Bruce said.
Farther south, Captain Bill Regan at Hot Reels www.hotreelsfishing.com out of Cape Cod is anxious to get back offshore. "Cod fishing has been incredible," he says, "but the wind has been blowing 45 knots for the last week." Once the conditions improve, Bill will head to the northwest corner of Stellwagon Bank in 260 to 300 feet of water. To score the biggest cod, Bill swears by Shimano's Butterfly Jigs. "We fished them side-by-side with Diamond Jigs and the Butterfly system won out 2 to 1." Event though the minimum size for cod is 24 inches, Bill has set a boat limit at 30 inches. "We have no problem catching a limit of fish over 30 inches," he says.
The cod bite has started to sputter in the Northeast, but indications are that the bite is firing up again and anglers are in for some good fishing this weekend. The Captain Francis Fleet www.francesfleet.com out of Galilee, Rhode Island has been on the fish every day this week. While the action was excellent last Saturday, the fish had turned off earlier in the week. By midweek, however, the cod were hungry again and anglers were bringing in coolers of fish up to 15 pounds. According to the skippers, there are plenty of fish on the grounds, but some days they bite and some days they don't.
Friday the Thirteenth will mean bad luck for the fish this week. Captain Michael Potts on Bluefin IV www.bluefiniv.com dropped us an email to let us know that the cod bite is still going strong off Block Island. He said that anglers continue to score double headers of fish up to 20 pounds mixed with pollock up to 10 pounds. He told us that they are getting more bites, but that many of the fish are below the 21-inch minimum size limit.
Captain John Nedelka took his boat Karen Sue www.karensueboat.com on an exploratory expedition in search of tog this week. "All we found was cold water," he reported. John expects the bite to heat up as the water warms. "We're looking for 42.5 degrees on the bottom," he said. To read the water temp on the wreck, John uses a unique high/low thermometer that he attaches to the line coming from a boat road and drops to the bottom. "In 90 feet we had 43 on the surface and 38 at the bottom," he said. John expects the water to get right in the next couple of weeks. "The latest I've ever seen it recover is mid March," he says. When the tog finally wake up, John says that they'll be looking for soft baits. "Early in the season, I've had real good success with a piece of surf clam," he tells us. John uses a 3/0 Mustad hook on a single dropper bottom rig. While anglers wait for the tog bite to start, John told us that his dockmate on Wide Open has been running to the edge of the Washington Canyon and scoring limits of black sea bass up to 7 pounds. -Ric Burnley
Word of a hot cod bite off Block Island has lured anglers from as far away as Brielle, New Jersey. This week the Jamaica II www.jamaicaii.com will be sailing around the tip of Montauk in search of big cod. Since the Montauk boats are booked solid through the weekend, the Jersey fleet may be the only open boats. Earlier in the week, the crew loaded up on sea bass, porgy, ling, and Pollock closer to home. The boat is fishing Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. -Ric Burnley
Oh my cod! What a year for codfishing on the Northeast. Captain Michael Potts on the Bluefin IV www.bluefiniv.com told us that this season has been the best in years. He said that the fish were easy to find a few miles SE of Block Island in 100 to 150 feet of water. His anglers were dropping 6 ounce Diamond jigs followed by a couple of curly-tailed teasers. "There is a huge body of fish in there," he said. A recent bout of bad weather has kept the boats off the water, but Mike was looking forward to a pleasant weather and good fishing. "The bite should last through April," he said. - Ric Burnley