Dock Talk: 2012 Buzzards Bay & Islands Spring Recap
Capt. Corey Pietraszek provides a detailed recap of what was an incredible spring season of fishing in Buzzards Bay, the Elizabeth Islands and off Martha’s Vineyard. Let’s hope it continues!
The season is flying by. Spring has already come and gone, and if you didn’t book a trip with PNP you missed out on some amazing action.
Things kicked off right on schedule around May 8, with huge schools of striped bass appearing literally overnight. On most trips, my anglers were greeted with double-digit-sized fish—and big numbers of them. This lasted for a good part of May, with very consistent topwater and fly-rod action throughout Buzzards Bay.
In addition to the great striper fishing, bottom fishing for black sea bass also started with a bang. Not only were the sea bass large (in the 3- to 5-pound class), the numbers were out of control. On most trips we limited out within a few hours of leaving the dock, only to free up a little time so we could toss lures to schooling stripers.
Plug ‘N Play had very special day in late May with clients Mark Smith and Chip Johnston, frequent fliers with PNP Charters. We had been working a school of bass in an area for most of the morning in the fog. About 4 hours into the trip, the fog lifted, allowing visibility of well over 3 miles. And there, on the very edge of the visibility, we noticed what appeared to be a feeding whale. Since neither Mark nor Chip had ever seen a whale up close before, I decided to motor over and take a look.
As we approached, I realized that what we thought was a whale was actually a school of bluefin tuna! I informed my sports that while our gear was far from adequate for these fish, they were welcome to take a few casts. You never know, right?
Before I could rethink my offer, Chip had hooked a 165-pound bluefin on a topwater plug. His gear consisted of a Loomis 844 Pro Blue rod and a Spheros 5000 spinning reel with maybe 200 yards of 40-pound Power Pro, so we were off to the races! Game on!
It was pure chaos for 45 minutes before things settled down. At this point we were all taking turns either driving the boat or trying to fight this critter on an outfit that was far too light for the job. The battle see-sawed for about an hour more before I could see color and felt like we had some kind of a chance of landing the fish.
But how to land it? Because we weren’t prepared for tuna fishing, I had no gaff, fighting belts, harnesses, etc., so we had to get creative. More often than not, these fish are lost right at the boat due to a tired line, a loose hook or the fish’s tail hitting the leader, so I figured we had one shot at success.
Working like a well-oiled machine, we timed the spins in the fight and got the fish’s head near the surface. Once I had a shot, I was going to try and tail-rope the fish using a dock line. If I succeeded, I would then grab its lip with the 60-pound Boga Grip.
Well, that plan was quickly scrapped, because once I touched the leader the middle hook on the Sea Pup lure pulled out. I thought for sure the fish was gone for good as it surged off, but miraculously the remaining hook held.
After a few more minutes we got its head to the surface again. The fish was tired at this point, judging by the tail beats and how it moved through the water on each spin. It was cooked, and was going to give us one more chance at landing it with the Boga Grip.
I made a quick shot and locked the device around the fish’s lower jaw. Thank God I was spot-on, because at this point the tuna went completely nuts, almost ripping my arm off. Mark opened the back door and with one good pull I slid the beast into the Contender. At this point we all just about fell on the deck in exhaustion.
I’ve had some memorable days on the water, with all kinds of species, but I’ll never forget that one! I could understand losing the fish given the odds against us, but after seeing how hard Mark and Chip were working and how effective we functioned as a team, I really wanted to land the fish. What an amazing feat with any tackle, never mind bass gear, and truly the catch of a lifetime for many. Great job guys!
After that wild trip, things began to heat up again with striped bass. The first few weeks of June are typically when we start to see the bigger bass—anywhere between 20 and 40 pounds—moving through the area in waves. These fish are schooled up, but not under birds, as the smaller fish usually are. They are really just moving through, using the structure as a holding point and feeding at key times during the tide. Different tides yielded different results, but the usual spots had life and it was a June to remember.
During this period we had what I absolutely love: grey and grumpy conditions thanks to a lingering nor’easter. The rain and wind generated the perfect conditions for spring bass fishing. This weather pattern lasted for about 7 days and the fishing was amazing the whole time. We had some days when my sports would release well over 30-plus fish per trip, with the average size being 40” or better. The fish were all taken during the day on topwater lures or fly rods. You can’t beat that!
Another memorable trip involved Rick Hersom and Harvey Simon. Together we witnessed something I’ve never seen before—and probably never will again.
We left the dock early so we could reach the grounds around fish light. After a leisurely run, we were greeted by birds working over fish. I quickly noticed that the birds weren’t terns, but herring gulls. When I see gulls working fish and no terns in the area, that means one thing—big bait, and that’s always a good thing.
Suddenly, the screen lit up and the water around us began to boil with bass from 20 pounds all the way to 40 or 50 pounds feeding on small whiting (a type of hake) they had pushed to the surface. It was a freak show!
In the next 2 hours, Rick and Harvey landed well over 25 fish, the largest close to 40 pounds. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was snapping pictures of fish, landing fish, trying to take video … pure chaos.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and once the tide slowed and the sun got high, it was over. “Epic” doesn’t begin to describe the blitz, and I know Rick and Harvey will never forget that day. I won’t either.
That’s just a sample of the past few months we’ve had here at PNP Charters. July and August also produce great fishing, of course, and I’m looking forward to the summer as we transition to hot mornings of tossing big flies and plugs into the rocks in search of bass versus chasing bird piles and schooled fish.
If you’re interested in booking some time with us, call or shoot me an email and I’ll get something in the books. We still have some prime dates open, but once the pictures and reports of bigger fish start getting posted, those dates will fill fast.
Here’s wishing you tight lines and a fun and safe Fourth of July!