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Is It All Over? | November 11 Report

cape cod dolphins

The 2012 fishing season was incredible. Even dolphins showed up in areas where you normally just don't see dolphins.  Photo courtesy of Paul Morgan.

Earlier last week bass above the 20 pound mark were still being taken at the Cape Cod Canal.  While big bass in November are not unheard of, good action on big fish in November off Cape Cod is certainly pretty rare.

Take last year for example.  The 2011 season as a whole was much slower than usual for me.  On the majority of my 2011 trips, I really had to put some serious time and effort into catching just a handful or so of big bass.

In 2011, it seemed like most of the striped bass had migrated south by around the middle of October.  At least that's what I observed.

However 2012 has been much, much different.  This past season was by far the most productive striped bass season I've ever had.  A lot of folks from various Cape Cod areas all the way out to Nantucket have agreed. 2012 was definitely a good year for Cape Cod striper fishing.

Thus I don't think it's terribly surprising that big keepers were being caught in the Canal right up until the middle of last week.  Who knows, maybe there are still a few in there, and/or a few more yet to come.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

I do think we may be in for a good winter season of hold over striped bass fishing.  Certain years small schools of small stripers decide to spend the winter hunkered down in Cape Cod's many estuaries.  Believe it or not, it is possible to catch 20 or more stripers during January if you happen to hit the right spot at the right time.

I haven't caught a winter striper on Cape Cod in a few years.  With the way the 2012 season has been going, I believe this winter could produce at least a few hold over fish.  As mentioned above, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Peace and Quiet | Cape Cod Canal November 9

cape cod canal striped bass

I hate to admit it, but I may have to wait until 2013 to see another nice striper like this one...

I fished the Canal Friday night for a few hours before my hands began to freeze.  It was absolutely gorgeous out.  A crisp and clear November night that just can't be beat.

I saw one lone head lamp way across on the other side of the Ditch around 9 pm   That was it as far as signs of life, aside from the rats that were scurrying around in the rocks.

There is one particular rock at the Canal that I've enjoyed some good fishing success while standing on over the years.  With it being quite possibly one of my last Canal fishing trips of the season, I figured Friday night would be a good time to give that old lucky rock a visit.

There could still be a few big bass like this one lurking in the Canal. However I think most of us will have to wait until next season to catch a lunker.

The Canal is unique in the respect that one rock can trigger a bucket load of nice memories.  My first fish hooked while standing on this rock happened back in high school.  I'd say I was 17, probably fishing on a Saturday night while most kids were out goofing around.  Don't get me wrong, I did my fair share of "goofing around" as a teenager - just not during the fishing season!

I remember that night well because I hooked up with a half dozen or so monster bass-all hooked using a jig fished right along the bottom.  Unfortunately I only landed one of the fish, a chunky 28 pounder.  The other 5 buried themselves down in the rips, snapping my line on boulders each and every time.

Since then I've realized that in this one particular spot, I must put the screws to the fish immediately after hooking up.  In other words, a tighter than usual drag is a must in order to prevent the bass from burying itself in the rocks.

So with all this mind I lobbed a cast out into the dark abyss of the Ditch this past Friday night.  The Canal was glass calm and I watched as small bait fish touched the surface with their noses all around me.  The place felt fishy.

However it wasn't.  I fished for a while, making casts and jigging the bottom until the tide began to slow.  No bites and no signs of life.

Keep in mind that I only fished that one area, so who knows what may of been happening in other stretches of the Canal.

My buddy Mazzola headed out in his boat Saturday morning and reported that the Canal had a murkiness to it.  According to Mazzola, the biomass of sea herring that had been holding off the East End of the Canal was nowhere to be found.  Same story with the mackerel - not a fish in sight.

I think last week's Nor' Easter stirred things around a bit.   Maybe the sea herring and mackerel pushed farther offshore, and the bass decided that it was now time to make a move south into Buzzard's Bay and beyond.  Of course this is all just speculation.

This week I'll be crossing my fingers that the 2012 season has one more surprise left for you and I.  One more nice push of big fish would be incredible.  With the way this season has been, I would not be the least bit surprised.

If we don't get another push of big bass, I'll be gearing up to hit the estuaries for a chance at a hold over striper.  Maybe I'll even try some freshwater.

Good luck this week if you are able to get out!

Take care and tight lines,


P.S. - I'll be sending out a survey to all members, as well as everyone who is on the MFCC newsletter email list.  If you aren't on the MFCC newsletter email list, then definitely sign up by entering your name and email over on the right hand side of this page.

The survey will be asking you to fill me in on what YOU would like to see on the MFCC blog.  So keep an eye out for the survey in your email inbox this week.  Looking forward to hearing your feedback!


by Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins grew up on the beach, and has been fishing since he was 5. Ryan has great family, friends and fishing experiences to be grateful for. Just being there is enough...catching a few fish is always a bonus!

  1. My 2012 was not as productive as I would have liked. I was contemplating giving up my membership to Freedom Boat Club, my method of choice for boat fishing. I am going to give it better planning for 2013, and try to improve my “luck”. The fall runs in the local creeks has been great fun, with a fresh water rod and 20+ inch stripers. It too, has slowed, but I always have a rod ready in the car.

    I look forward to increasing my success-rate in 2013, thanks for the info.


    1. Hey Dave,

      I hear ya. My tough year was 2011. I had incredibly high hopes for an awesome season, and it just didn’t happen for me.

      Good news is things change really quick with regards to fishing Cape Cod, and 2012 ended up being the best I have ever experienced. Of course who knows what 2013 will bring….

      Great to hear that you are going to give it another go in 2013. I have a feeling that your “luck” will indeed improve.

      No problem on the info and let me know next season if I can help in any particular way.

      Take care and have a great Thanksgiving!


  2. Thank you for all your post..reading them keeps the fire inside to chase them one more time. We mostly fish in ri areas but will venture to other areas for better results. I was wondering if the mackerel are in the east end in great numbers and worth a trip to jig them and liveliness them for bass or chunk them out further for cod? Any comment would be greatly appreciated… Regards Jon (one more cast)

    1. Morning Jon,

      No problem at all, it’s the least I can do. Thank you for giving these posts a read. I agree, it does help keep the fire burning!

      As of Saturday of this past weekend there were no mackerel off the East End. I have not heard anything since and I have not been out myself. Usually November is pretty good for mackerel off the East End, but I think the crazy rough seas we’ve had recently has made things difficult for the mackerel fleet.

      The bass bite seems to have pretty much ended. I’m sure some lucky angler who is reading this comment is still catching a few, however for the most part things have really quieted down. I have not heard anything about cod either.

      I would not recommend banking on live lining mackerel for bass right now. However May will be here soon, which is the best time for live lining macks around the Canal.

      Hope that helps!

      Anything happening down in the RI area?



      1. Good evening Ryan,
        Thanks for the heads up on the mackerel. I had some news the macks were stacked in front of green harbor area and thought the east end was the same.
        If you are looking for togs and jumbo seabass then ri is the place.. Block island has been hot.
        Waiting for the water to settled from the past storm to venture out further to chase cod. Ri has a 10 fish limit for cod currently..
        Did you joined the commercial madness in Chatham this year.. Had a first experience this year and could not believe how money can drive sane to insane.. Love the diamond jigging on light set up for 30 pound bass but lost a lot of fish to other boats props..
        Ryan do you enjoy eating the bounty of sea or just release? Always looking for a new recipes on the fresh catch..

        Thanks again and hopeful Tuesday will be my day to be on the water.. Jon

        1. Morning Jon,

          No problem on the mackerel. Of course by now they could of moved back in, but last I heard it was slow off the East End. Maybe someone will read this comment and chime in with a more recent report – however I don’t think many folks have been heading out on the water as of late.

          Thanks for the tips on Block Island. That sounds like a bunch of fun. I’d be interested in hearing how you make out with the cod if you end up getting out.

          I did not join the commercial madness at Chatham this year. Crazy how many fish have showed up down that way the past few seasons. I would expect some changes to the commercial bass season coming for 2013. I remember years when the season lasted into September, but with the Chatham thing going on we are lucky to get 3 full weeks.

          I do a lot of catch and release, however I do sell bass during the commercial season and love keeping a few for the grill. I also enjoy digging my own sea clams and snorkeling for lobsters. Lots of fun and great way to spend a summer evening.

          Good luck on Tuesday if you go and keep me/us posted!



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