During the 2012 season we had excellent stretches of fishing in Boston Harbor. The last few years have each had their own individual personalities, and this one was no different.
The striper fishing was a little more variable than usual. While there were many large bass in the harbor, not with the consistency we have come to expect, particularly as we approached the fall
season. While it's never exactly clear why fishing takes the turns it does, no doubt untimely weather and large scale bait patterns in Massachusetts waters can have profound effects.
The harbor takes, but it also always gives back. Bait was mostly prevelant, and so were other game fish species.
Herring was abundant as was mackerel which was available until the end of July, unusually long into the season. These bait fish were often necessary
to get some attention from the linesiders. There were times when the stripers would target mackerel almost exclusively, making them very difficult to tempt with
artificial lures - the captains favorite. Pogies made their appearance in significant numbers in August and continued into September. The pogies take up residence in favorite spots and stay
for long periods of time. Unfortunately, on many mornings we would find a seiner netting thousands of these large bait fish. Despite this, pods would still roam the harbor but in fewer numbers.
This year, live pogies, undoubtedly a favorite snack for a large striper, was no guarantee of catching one.
Cory Natcher had booked a trip for himself and his girlfriend Brittany. Both were visiting the area from Ohio where they fish various lakes around their town, mostly for bass, and blugills. Cory works for the fire department and Brittany was finishing her degree to become a teacher, but today were ready for some Boston Harbor fishing. As had been the case in the recent days, our plan was to hunt the likely spots in the inner harbor. Our first stop was the Sugar Bowl for a quick lesson on harbor jigs and topwater lures. Failing to muster any signs of fish on our lures or the fishfinder we headed into Dorchester Bay where a couple other charter boats were scanning the area. A few hovering birds gave us hope so we forced ourselves to be patient which often pays off, but not today. Our next stop at a sandbar in Quincy produced some better fortune as Cory hooked a fish that gave him a real battle. Hooked in the shallows this fish fought harder than larger fish hooked in deeper water. After a few minutes a very respectable Boston striper was landed, and Cory was very pleased. We managed a few more hits until it was time to try a new spot. By now the breeze had picked up which ofter depresses the fishing. After a few more areas, and mostly followers it was time to call it a day and head back to dock
Onboard today were four interns from Brigham and Womans Hospital: John, Paul, Amit, and Barry. Given the stage of the tide and the relatively calm conditions, the table was set for some early morning shallow water fishing. Our first stop in Quincy Bay began with a quick lesson on top water fishing. While the conditions were near ideal, the fishing was not; we fished the area quite hard but could not raise any fish. In fact, we were joined by a couple other charter boats that experience similar results. It was time to move on taking a spin around the harbor through Hingham and a couple stops at Long Island and Dorchester. In Dorchester, John was the first to hook up. Unfortunatelly after battling the striper for awhile, it spit the hook. A couple more stops at rock piles and sand bars in Quincy resulted in similar frustrating results - it was time to switch gears. The crew decided to target flounder instead. Go Fish had been quite successful at flounder fishing the previous days so the captain fully expected the group to hook up and indeed they did at the first spot we tried. First fish was a skate, followed by a black sea bass, and then some flounder as well. All took their turn landing fish which ended the day on a good note.
Tom Grant with his son William, had invited his friend Mike and his son Alex for a fishing trip in the harbor. First stop for the day would be the channels around the airport that had been productive the previous day. Indeed the fish were still there as the fishfinder lit up, but the fish mostly dispersed after the first pass. Patience was rewarded on this day however, as a nice 32 inch, 13 lb. striper was hooked, battled, and kept for dinner. June had been slower than normal for striper fishing due to a Noreaster earlier in month and never quite recovered. After trying a few more spots it was time to switch to flounder fishing again. This time it took some time to find the right structure, but once we did the action was really good. Skates are quite abundant at the moment, but we were able to hook at least as many flounder. While the boys had taken turns reeling in the striper, now Mike was doing the lions share - he had a knack for this subtle style of fishing. Over a couple hours we boated over a dozen fish and kept four of the flounder. Mike, a native of England considered skate somewhat of a delicacy so we kept four of them as well. We also boated a crab. The boys and the whole crew enjoyed the active fishing towards the end. The rain in the morning had stopped just in time for the charter and we had absolutely calm seas and sun on what turned out to be a lovely day in the harbor.
The day was set for fishing with kids. On board was youth counselor Christian from The Fishing Academy, along with three youngsters, James, Jillian, and Gabe, all under 12. The plan for the day was simple - we were going to scan the harbor for striper action and then settle in for some flounder fishing before the tide went slack. As we had a fairly late start to collect all the kids we missed some top water action out at the North Channel. We hung out for a bit to see if the fish would come back up, but the action was spotty at best so I decided it was time for "plan B" - with kids especially, it's important to get something going. By this time in the season I have usually developed my favorite spots in the harbor to find flounder and this payed off quite well. Gabe was the first to hook up, and indeed it was a flounder, and a keeper. The action turned out to be quite good and consistent. The kids took turns reeling in flounder and skates. As we were fishing in a tournament with many other boats involved the size of the fish mattered. It turned out the day was generally quite slow for fishing. James landed a 14 inch flounder which measured in as the largest for the day until just before the end when a 21 inch doormat was brought in! All in all, the group did very will, with eight flounders between them, the most for any single boat. More importantly the kids had enjoyed a great day of fishing, stayed in the boat, and hooked only the fish!
Doug Narup had booked a trip for his family, including his teenage son and daughter. The family fishes on their freshwater bass boat but not in saltwater too often. Given the conditions the plan was to make the first stop in the shallows, which really paid off today. The fish were clearly in the area as we could see swirls in the water as we retreived our topwater lures. Both the girls had their lures bit in two in rapid succession - a sure indication we had bluefish at hand. In the meantime Paul had also hooked up as he worked his lure. I was not paying close attention as I was busy changing some of the leaders to wire, but either Paul was taking his fine time or this was a big fish. After a lengthy fight, Paul brought a hefty 38 inch 19 pound bass to the boat, which was kept for dinner. In the meantime Doug had a near take and there were more bit off lures around the boat. We worked the shallows for a good while and then Doug hit paydirt with a keeper size striper of his own, but nothing like Paul's. It was a great start, and as the action faded it was time to search the harbor. As we saw nothing in the inner harbor we motored past the channel which was also devoid of fish and decided to take a look around Revere beach. Today this did not pay off, and after a few minutes of blind casting returned and found a school of bird working bait by the channel merge area. These fish were not as finicky as some of the recent fish, however they would still often chase but not commit to the lures. Rachel hooked a fish but it spit the hook immediately. Doug was next and managed to reel his fish to within a few feet of the boat. The challenge was now that the entire harbor fleet had converged on this lonely school. The pressure was intense as was the boat traffic. It was time to search again, but with the tide reaching the high mark the fish had spread out. A few pockets of fish were tracked but not hooked. The captain decided to end the day they way it started - in the shallows - which once again proved to be a good idea. Before long we had another bite off and then Rachel hooked a bluefish and managed to bring it to the boat. Most anglers were still using flouro leaders as I suspected there were still bass in the area. Then Rachel hooked another bluefish, and Paul hooked a small striper. Paul gets the award for smallest and largest striper of the day. A very enjoyable day fishing Boston Harbor.
Paul Church knows how to time his fishing trips. Last year was a winner, and as the previous day had been great I had high hopes for this day as well. Joining him this time was his newphew Ty and friend Luis. The plan was to start in the shallows that had been so productive the previous day. Today the fish were not to be found, it's funny how that works, sometimes the fish come back to the same place at the same stage of the tide, and sometimes they just don't - though we did fish the area pretty hard. The next stop was Hull Gut. There were a couple boats and a few birds would make a sortie from the Peddock rocks occassionally. Some promising signs but not too much going on. Nevertheless we fished it which proved to be a good decision. Paul was the first to hook up with a near keeper, and he then hooked up a couple more times. He was dominating the action, and Ty was beginning to hate his uncle. A couple times fish would actually break water, but they would last only a few seconds on the surface. There were many more below. Ty was the next to reel in a fish - all so far on jigs, nothing went for our surface lures. Eventually the action died and I wanted to try take a look around the Channel which had produced the previous day. We were two for two: there were already birds, fish, and half a dozen boats engaged. Soon the boats grew to a fleet which is always a bit of a challenge. The action was non-stop for three hours. We had to stop for a few minutes to let Queen Mary II pass, and while she steamed right over the schools they did not seem to mind much. All were taking turns hooking up, with Luis now entering the game and landing the largest fish so far, a couple in the 32-33 inch range. The action was non-stop for about three hours. Occassionally the fish would go down but we would hang out and our patience was rewarded. When our jigs did not work I sent down a rigged mackarel which did the trick, and Ty soon reeled in a large striper. I would rig this up occassionally and Ty especially seemed to enjoy this kind of fishing and was soon doing his own rigging. After the channel action died eventually we moved on and found a few hovering birds and fish by Rainsford. Ty had rigged up a mackerel and landed another keeper size fish. Pictures were taken of the fish they kept - they had hooked dozens. Great trip - capped by several sightings of the Blue Angels above, not to mention QM II.
Bob Shorter, the clubhouse manager at Nashawtuc country club had planned a trip for his 6 year old son Zach. Given the short nature of the trip I had adjusted the start time so that it would coincide with the incoming tide. Typically I would fish the end of the outgoing, but as we were only going to be out there four hours I wanted some good tide movement for at least part of the trip. Our first stop in the shallow waters of Quincy Bay did not prove fruitful, nor did the deeper channels around the airport - although we found quite a lot of marking fish. Flounder fishing had been a bit slow as of late, nevertheless I wanted to see if we could get Zach hooked up on the outside of Deer Island - that way I could keep a lookout over the North Channel which had been pretty active lately. Sure enough, before we could rig up for flounder I spotted some birds and decided to take a closer look and as we approached we saw some breaking fish. A bit finicky as they had been recently but soon enough Zach was reeling in a striper hooked on a custom jig. It was a real fight, but Zach was a trooper it took some time but he muscled it in. This one was just under keeper size but the next one was over and we kept it for the grill. Bob, who fished and hunts all over the place, was next to hook up. The action held up really well, and the crew repeatedly had tight lines to hard fighting linesiders, and one was kept for the clubhouse cook. A slow start with a great finish. What beats a great day fishing with your son?
J.T. had put together a foursome including himself, Jerry, David Patrick, and Caleb. Caleb, a Canadian had actually been married on Thompson Island. J.T. was the fisherman along with Jerry; the rest had quite limited fishing experience. Given the tide, the captain decided to forgo the shallows and intead made a couple pit stops at rock piles and then toured the harbor. While nothing was happening in the North Channel I decided to stay in the area and trolled for a bit. It did not take long for some bird action to start. Schools were sparse and very fast moving, most of the time birds were just hovering. The first to get hooked up was Jerry, who ultimately landed a striper. We fished a variety of jigs, today the Storms outfished the custom jigs that I typically use. Essentially the game was to follow the birds. While relatively slow, the action continued and there was constant hope. After awhile Jerry hooked up on a larger fish which pullled him around the boat a few times. This one was perfect size for the grill to make fish tacos and possibly some sushi. When there was a break in the action we trolled rappalas and even some dead mackerel. When the action died down completely I decided to take a look in Quincy Bay as low was approaching. We found a few fish, all of the blues variety mostly striking short on our soft plastic offerings; and before we could switch to hard plastic poppers or plugs on wire, they were gone. After a few more near misses the action slowed and I decided to take another look in channel. We had some more takers but none were hooked. Essentially we had made the most of the opportunites and the guys had enjoyed a nice day fishing in the harbor.
Kids day. Tons of kids in two shifts. Onboard was a counselor along with Haden, Eamond, Kaitlin, Jack, and Leighton. Captain was on the water at 5:15 to hunt for mackerel. On some of the recent days, an early start had been required to obtain this prized live bait. Today was not the day however, as I found the first mackerel at around 8:00. I guess you can never really know for sure. In any event, with the baitwell full, it was time to pick up the first crew. The inner harbor and surrounding islands did not reveal anything as we cruised around the harbor. However around Hull we found some occassional diving birds, with many more content to just float on the water. They were there for a reason of course, and I decided to troll around, mostly with the live mackerel; in part because this is always a productive way to fish if there are any stripers in the area, but also because it's especially practical with kids too young to cast effectively. We were getting consistent hookups. Most of our difficulty was keeping the fish hooked. The kids were taking turns reeling in the fish as they were on the larger size, and a few mangaged to escape as the rod was being handed off. Despite this several fish were landed, with all the kids participating. Clearly there had been fish around for much of the day in this area, but not much surface activity or birds to signal there presence.
It would be a downtown pickup for the Nabors: Melody, Marty, Morgan, and Jay on vacation in Boston. I went out early and headed out to the ledges to locate some mackerel. With a bit of patience I was able to load up the livewells and felt well prepared for the trip. I did not see much on my way to the inner harbor for the pickup, and scanned some more with the crew. on boardI had heard there was some action up North earlier but it was done by now; so I settled on the waters that had been productive the last few days. I wanted to give the crew an opportunity casting artificials and it did not take long for Jay to hook up on a nice size striper using a custom jig the captain uses a lot. The fish fought hard and long, and eventually was reeled in and was measured just over 31 inches - a very good start. Casting became less productive and we switched to using the mackerel in the livewells. The next fish was reeled in by Morgan and was a little smaller, just around keeper size. By now a couple other boats had joined the action, and one of the fellow charter captains indicated there was some action outside. Around Toddy Rock, there were a few diving birds, and a ton of boats. There were a few chances to hook breaking fish but you needed to be in the right place at the right time and the schools were moving very fast and it was virtually impossible to stay with them. Ultimately I decided to go back to where we were earlier and our fish were still there. There is a lesson here somewhere. On our first drift Melody hooked up on a large fish and passed the rod over to Morgan to reel in. The fish pulled him around the boat a few times - I had to remind him to keep a tight line at all times - stripers have a tendancy of slipping the hook on any slack. As the fish was sighted it was clear this was the fish of the day. After a few pictures with the 35+ inch striper, it was returned to grow even bigger. We had several more hookups, including one hooked deep that seemed quite large. The hook pulled on this one after a short fight so we never found out how large it was. The Nabors were visiting Boston from Oklahoma, had seen the Red Sox, and now had enjoyed some great fishing in Boston Harbor.
It had been a tough week or so for fishing, so I did not have very high expectations for the group of kids onboard today. Today we were going to do mostly trolling and a little Black Sea Bass fishing. At the bottom of the tide we were also facing slack in about an hour so we did our best trolling tubes in a couple spots between Spectacle Island and Governors Flats. We manged to hook a striper but there were not many signs of life. Moving to Quincy Bay, we trolled up a small bluefish on a plug, and then hooked a much larger fish. The line actually broke, which I really can't recall happening before - possibly the drag malfunctioned. By now the tide had shifted to incomming and I wanted to take another try a Sea Bass. This time we succeeded a little better and were able to entice a few from the depths. If nothing else we had collected three different kinds of fish using several different techniques.
On board was Jason Weeks, along with close friends Phil, Jose, and Ken. Plan was to be on water before dawn and we were in time to see a nice sunrise in Boston Harbor. Our first stop in the shallows was a great way to warm up. It became evident that there were fish interested as we had some initial strikes. The crew was fishing topwater soft plastic lures and having some difficulty timing the hook set. With time, as all the lures were bitten in half in short order it was clear we had blues on hand, and that turned out to be the case. Changing to smaller jerk bait we started to hook up quite regularly with all anglers boating at least one bluefish. The crew decided to keep three to settle the debate over how good they could make them taste. While the action continued the skipper wanted to take a look at a few other areas that had shown activity on the previous day. Hull Bay contained a few boats chasing pogies, to use live bait to attract stripers. This had been a rewarding approach lately but the pogies seemed quite thin today so snagging could take quite awhile.
Onboard today were Bob Lobel, his son Bob and daughter Savanah, as well as his grandson Jennings. This would be Jennings and Savanah's first salt water fishing trip. A cool morning greeted us and so did some schools of pogies in the river. The pods were small and quite concentrated - a perfect set up for snagging which we did. Bob Jr. quickly learned the technique. We loaded up the livewell with half a dozen to use as the day progressed. Given the tide I wanted to start the day with some Sea Bass. It's always hard to resist scanning for stripers first thing, but today our plan worked well as we hooked up quite consistently. The first to do so was Savanah, followed soon by Jennings. We missed a few as well. Sea Bass are relatively small, but have tough mouths that require a firm hook set. Bob Jr. also hooked a couple, including one on a jigging spoon. After half a dozen sea bass, including a season tying 4 lb. by Bob (senior), Savanah hooked up on a fish that was clearly more than a sea bass and had the rod bent nearly 180 degrees as she was trying to fight the fish from a sitting position - not the optimal way to apply pressure unfortunately. We lost the fish after a good long battle without being able to see it but it was no doubt a nice sized striper. It was now time to find some new grounds to try the pogies. Stops were made at Bass Triangle and some ledges in Quincy Bay. We hooked a striper casting but there were no taker on the live lined pogies. We tried the shallows and then returned for a bit of sea bass fishing where Bob (senior) once again hooked up on a good sized sea bass. It had been a nice day of Boston Harbor fishing: calm, sunny, and good company. The striper action was less than stellar as it had been the case the last week or so. Plenty of bait, but not many linesiders in the harbor for the moment.
Aboard today were Joe Kynoch, his brother Bob, Joe's son Nick and his girlfriend Helena. While the forecast had preducted 10 mph winds as we launched before dawn, the harbor was still as could be. As soon as we entered the river off the marina we saw pods of bunker. I introduced the crew to snagging and we boated a half dozen. Our real goal was to see if there were any stripers on these fish by slowly retreiving and dropping the snagged bait. No stripers were hooked, although we did get couple near miss bite offs by bluefish. The other day it had not been possible to retrieve a pogie without it being attacked by large stripers. The plan was to scan the harbor and then head North where most of the fish had been last couple days early in the morning. By Western Way where some boats where snagging pogies and we found a few breaking fish by Spectacle and Bob managed to hooked a nice fish. At the same time Nick also had a hook up. Bob fought his fish and reeled it in to record his first Boston Harbor keeper. Nick managed to get his fish close to the boat before it slipped the hook. It was too late to head up North so we roaming the area and managed to snag some pogies but nothing else. As conditions were great for topwater we stopped in the shallows of Quincy Bay and found that there were smallish blue fish around. They would pounce on our top water plastic lures and generally destroy our tackle. Bob, Joe, and Nick all landed at least one. Next stop was to scan Rainsford area and then up to Nantasket to troll tubes and pogies. I decided to check out the Gut and just inside Hull Bay. We trolled a bit and had what was a strong hookup - but as quickly as the fish struck it was lost. The area was filled with charter boats yo-yoing and drifting with chunk bait, but not with any apparent success. We returned to the shallows and our bluefish were still there and eagerly devoured our topwater lures. On the way back to dock we stopped at my favorite spot for Black Sea Bass. Helena was the first to hook up, followed by another one landed by Nick. The party had completed the Harbor Slam.
Ross and Rebecca Yapp had chartered a trip for them selves and Revecca's parents Mark and Liz. All were quite new to spin casting so the early part of the trip would include some basic lessons. Ross and Rebecca had lived a few years but were just about to return to their native England. The plan for the day was quite simple - head North. Pods of bass had infested the waters of Nahant Bay for a few weeks. You could never be sure if they would show up, and mostly they only made a short appearance very early in the day. As I wanted to pick up the crew downtown before dawn, I navigated the harbor in the dark. Apart from a short burst - and the first striper landed by Mark, the fish did not show up, perhaps due to the slack tide coinciding with the morning hours. We decided to troll the shoreline area over structure that had been very rewarding the previous day, but alas the fish were not home. A fellow captain informed us that there was a bite in Lynn and sure enough we found numerous very fast moving pods of stripers that took some work to stay on top of but took our lures readily. The crew found the much calmer water a relief as the local area provided lee. With some practice under their belt, the crew were all getting better at casting and were able to cast a bit further. All took their turn hooking and landing fish, and on occassion we even had a double hook up. A few smallish bluefish were also landed. We actually left before the fish as it was time to return to dock.
Kevin Connolly, sales manager at Greater Media, had chartered Go Fish for members of his staff: national manager Brian, and travel manager Dave. Kevin's goal was to get Brian and Dave exposed to saltwater fishing. Once onboard it became clear that Brian and Dave had tried a lot of shore fishing and knew most of the places it could be done around the harbor. They were a bit new to the light tackle spin gear I prefer to use, so a few lessons were in order as well. The goal for the day would be to get up North as quickly as possible. We were in time to find birds and fish breaking around the rocks. In this situation it was necessary to avoid rocks yet get as close as possible, requiring full concentration. Kevin was first to hook up, and Dave followed up soon thereafter. We followed the birds around the rocks for awhile but with the slackening tide the action died off. Today, it would have been better if we had arrived even earlier. A couple small schools were located in the Bay and this time Brian hooked up. We trolled structure for awhile to see if the fish would come up again, but they did not, though we did get land another fish on our trolling rig. Next I wanted try Lynn but this day there were no visible schools and blind casting the eel grass did not pay off. By now the winds had picked up considerably and we worked our way back to the harbor in the chop. The crew did not mind, they were all in good spirits from the morning action. I wanted to give sea bass a try but the timing was not great as the current was very strong and so for the first time in several weeks none were hooked. After some more trolling along Nantasket Roads it was decided to finish the day off casting in structure. Easing the boat up to a partially exposed ledge, the captain instructed the crew to cast into the turbulent water. After a couple drifts Kevin had a hookup, and this time the fish was bigger. After an enjoyable fight, a 33 inch striper was hefted into the boat, which the crew decided to keep for the grill. It was a great way to end the trip.
Inka Rogne had chartered a trip for her husband, Jan, as well as her daughter, Tia. Mostly the trip was for Tia. They, and other members of her extended family have fished onboard Go Fish for several years. The captain had informed them of the tenuous nature of the fishing as of late. While there were few fish in the harbor itself we have had good luck heading North. On many days the rocky shorelines held tons of school stripers herding peanut bunker. While rain was in store, the forecast for the wind was reasonable, so the decision was made to give the day a chance. We immediately headed out of the harbor and north to our target area, and as we did so the rain began. We found some working birds, the tell tale sign of fish chasing bait, but for some reason