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Schoolies and Keepers at Sagamore Beach

 

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I began fishing Sagamore Beach when I was around 10 years old.  When I was 12 my family moved to a house located walking distance from Saggy Beach.  Needless to say from that day onward I spent a great deal of time combing the beachfront.

Sagamore Beach is definitely not a well known striped bass hot spot.  One or two guys fishing along the entire beach is a "crowd."  Most folks choose to fish Scusset Beach to the east, or concentrate their efforts at the Cape Cod Canal.

This is one beac h where a lack of angler activity has no correlation to the abundance of fish.  Growing up I would typically be the only person fishing the beach, however on a good day I would catch 20 or more schoolies with a small keeper bass or two mixed in.  It was pretty darn good fishing, especially considering some of the best surfcasting occurred during the middle of July, when many shore bound spots dry up.

Sagamore Beach is unique in that it features three different environments.  A small boulder field is strewn out to the west.  To the east is a long stretch of sandbars.  The in between area is usually a mix of both sandbars and small rocks.  Winter storms change the dynamics of the beach each year-keeping things interesting for the fishermen and the fish.

sagamore beach

Much of Sagamore Beach contains rocky areas seperated by sandbars, troughs and tidal pools.

Each area of the beach warrants a different technique, and each section of the beach also fishes differently depending on the season.

In the spring, I have had my best success concentrating around the jetties.  The jetties extend a few hundred yards to the east and west of the public section of the beach.  Small shad bodies and curly tail grubs rigged on small leadheads work well during the month of May on early season schoolie bass.  I've always done best fishing off the tip of each jetty during high tide.

Cocentrate on working the blue water (deep rocky bottom), as opposed to the green water (shallow sandbars).  There are many small fish that like to hang around the weedbeds and small rocks off the jetties, which in turn attract schoolie stripers.  Some seasons large schools of sandeels set up shop close to shore.  When this happens white curly tail grubs fished with a RedGill teaser becomes the "go-to" combo.

sagamore beach

A nice view west from atop Pike's Peak. The boulder field is located directly below and west of Pike's. Ellisville Harbor and Center Hill Point can be seen in the distance.

As spring gives way to summer, the boulder field to the west typically outfishes the jetties.  If you plan on catching striped bass around the boulders, then you better be ready to get wet!

The best tide for this area is the first two hours of the incoming.  During this tide the boulder field is completely exposed.  Big boulders seperate sandbars from tidal pools.  Weed beds extend out from the shore.  Crabs, sand eels, the occasional lobster and various bait fish call this area home.  Schoolie stripers and small keepers willingly invade the boulder field with the incoming tide at their back.

The most productive technique for this area is to wade around the rocks and cast small slug-go's or other weightless soft plastics.  This is very exciting fishing.  Many times I've watched as surprisingly big bass swirl on a slug-go as it passes around a big boulder.  It's as if the bass just slowly cruise around the rocks, looking for something to gobble up.

I remember many mornings during the middle of the summer when low tide happened right at sunrise.  As the sun peaked over the horizon I would find myself in the midst of the boulder field, surrounded by bass slurpring down sand eels.  One summer I had a stretch of 14 straight days that I caught at least ten bass from this stretch of water.  A low tide coupled with fog makes this fishing experience even better.

The sandbars to the east towards Scusset Beach have always fished better for me in the fall.  Of course this could be because I generally concentrate on the jetties during the spring and the boulder field during the summer.  Nevertheless the sandbars can produce big bass 20 pounds and up for chunkers during October, and also play host to some of the most incredible fall blitzes Cape Cod has to offer.

About 10 years ago Sagamore Beach had an incredible run of peanut bunker during September and October.  Millions of baby pogies traveled along the beach in tightly packed schools each morning and afternoon.  Thousands of bass and bluefish capitalized on this amazing feeding opportunity.

On some days, when viewed from a distance, Sagamore Beach appeared to be moving.  Thousands upon thousands of baby pogies would be forced up onto the sand by the hordes of predators that fed in less than 2 feet of water.  Entire schools of pogies would be helplessly bouncing around on the beach-it was an amazing sight and an awesome live bait fishing opportunity.  I would often fill my bathing suit pockets with pogies and live line them to bass in waist deep water.

This sort of fishing hasn't happened for a few seasons now.  Sure Saggy Beach is granted with an occasional bass blitz, but nothing to the magnitude of 10 years ago.  I accredit this to the lack of baby pogies traveling down the beach in the fall.  If the pogies come back in strong numbers, then I'd expect this fishery to make a comeback as well.

In the meantime the sandbars between Sagamore and Scusset Beach still produce bass especially during October and November.  If you are looking for a big fish, then hit this area up after a day or two of an onshore breeze.  As long as the weed isn't too bad, a chunk of pogie or mackerel fished along the bottom has the potential to produce bass well into the 30 pound range.

Once November rolls around most of the Bay's beaches cease to produce any sort of reliable striper opportunities.  However this is not the case for the Saggy Beach sandbars.  Schoolies, that I presume will eventually make their way through the Canal, will sometimes venture into this area for a quick end of the season meal.  The spring time tactics I use around the jetties has produced well around the sandbars as late as Thanksgiving.  I've never caught a bass from this area during December, however I would not be surprised if the occasional straggler wanders through here during the 12th month of the year.

My father and I have seen freshly dead schoolie bass on the beach while jogging this area during December.  Maybe these fish stuck around too long, and then died when the water temperature dipped down, and ended up washing up on the beach.  Either way the fish were there surprisingly late in the season.

Saggy Beach is a great place to fish.  Some of my best fishing memories have been formed while running up and down this small stretch of sand, rocks and boulders chasing birds and bass.  If you are planning a Cape Cod surfcasting trip, consider squeezing in a little time for Saggy Beach before heading back up route 3 or 495.

Tight lines and good luck!

As always, comments are appreciated and encouraged!

Captain Ryan

  1. Hey Doug,

    No problem, it’s the least I can do. Glad to hear you are heading to Saggy for vacation. It’s a great place and is where I grew up!

    I think a real nice place to take the fly rod would be the Ellisville area, which is just to the north of Sagamore Beach.

    There is an awesome nature trail that leads down to the beach. At the beach, take a right and walk all the way down towards the rock jetty. There’s a good rip that forms by the jetty on the outgoing tide and an inlet with a fast moving current nearby.

    I saw bass along the beach before the jetty and also on the opposite side of the inlet last weekend. There were also birds working offshore…seemed like a good amount of life in the area.

    I’d recommend something that mimics a sand eels or a baby pogie.

    I hope that helps! Gluck and keep me posted on how you do.

    Thanks for checking out the blog,

    Ryan

    Reply
  2. Ryan, thanks for the nice writing. On my way to Saggy for family vacation and was looking for some hints. Spend my time fly fishing in Utah/Idaho so this will be a great adventure for me. Thanks.

    Reply

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