Over the past two seasons Chatham has held one of the largest bio-masses of striped bass Cape Cod fishermen have ever seen.
It is hard to say why these enormous schools of striped bass have chosen Chatham over other Cape Cod striped bass fishing hot spots. There has been an absurd amount of bait present off Chatham in recent years, however there has been plenty of bait in other Cape Cod locations as well.
It seems that certain Cape Cod fishing spots produce abnormally well for streaks of a season or two. Then after a year or two of incredible fishing, the spot dies down a bit. Then another striper hot spot experiences an influx of striped bass with little or no warning.
Four or five years ago this same striper phenomena occurred at Provincetown. For an entire summer huge schools of stripers stacked up like cord wood on the drop-off west of the Bath House and Race Point. The bass were so thick that they threw off the accuracy of fish-finder readings.
I vividly recall my sonar telling me we were in 10 feet of water when we were actually in over 30 feet. The bass were so thick, the sonar had mistaken the fish for the sea floor. Now that’s a lot of bass!
The summertime fishing at Provincetown has since not been as productive as that one special year. Will the same thing happen to Chatham during 2012? Only time will tell, however it is likely that at some point other Cape Cod fishing areas will light up as the Chatham bio-masses of striped bass infiltrate new areas.
Until that happens, Chatham fishermen have a lot to be happy about. Millions of sand eels have kept the bass and tuna happy over the past two years. This past fall the school tuna fishing off Chatham was nothing short of remarkable, with some captains recording double digit hook ups on multiple outings.
Often times these bluefins were located incredibly close to shore. I am sure more than one angler hooked up with a tuna while bass fishing during 2011.
These sand eels attract a lot of attention from top predators and for good reason. These are not your typical 3-4 inch long baby sand lances. These sand eels are monstrous, Sharpie marker thick goliaths.
This makes for great top-water action during the early mornings. I didn’t really participate in the bite during 2011 however from what I heard the top-water action was often times downright nutty. Catching 20 or 30 keepers on plugs in a matter of just a couple of hours was not uncommon.
After the morning top-water bite settled down, most folks switch to wire line jigging or vertical jigging with diamond jigs. Both methods work, however be prepared to sweat it out with the wire unless you want to invest in electric reels. Keeping those jigs bouncing right along the bottom is key, which usually means a lot of wire is necessary to do the job properly.
Chatham may sound like an angler’s paradise however there are a few drawbacks to fishing the area.
Seals have managed to successfully decimate the shore bound anglers chances of getting in on the action. Surfcasting the outer cape has become progressively more difficult as seals scare bass away from their near-shore haunts.
Dogfish are also a big time nuisance. Millions upon millions of dogs invade Chatham (as well as most Cape Cod fishing areas) throughout the fishing season. Be prepared to deal with at least a few doggies if you switch to live eels or vertical jigging. Be sure to watch out for their spines.
The dogfish spine will easily penetrate your skin and cause your blood to gush uncontrollably. I was hit with a dogfish spine a few years ago and within an instant the punctured area swelled up to the size of golf ball and squirted blood like there was no tomorrow!
Access is also difficult and at times dangerous. The parking at Ryder’s Cove can be a challenge to say the least, and the standing waves at Chatham inlet can be daunting at times. The long jaunt around Monomoy can be difficult due to miles of rips, shoals and dense fog. Be aware that you are fishing the open ocean and that seas can build quickly and without warning.
But on a nice day fishing off Chatham is an experience unlike any other.
Tight lines and take care,
Ryan[ois skin="Newsletter Skin"]