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Late Summer Fishing Boston Harbor for Striped Bass

Jon Macnally

Back on Saturday August 18th, myself and a group of friends fished out of Charlestown Marina on my boat the Galway Girl.  

We met at the boat at 4:30 am to see if we could fool any striped bass. 

The plan was to comb over a few areas in search of mackerel, and then use the macks as live bait. However, I packed frozen pogies and frozen mackerel just in case we couldn't locate any live stuff.

It was lightly raining and a bit foggy in the early morning hours. I feel these low light conditions are perfect for a morning of fishing on Boston Harbor.

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Boat Fishing Boston Harbor 

Due to the lack of visibility, we cruised the harbor and checked the fish finder for bait instead of heading further offshore. Despite the fog, the Boston skyline was incredible!

After exploring the nooks and crannies of the harbor, I decided to make our way through the fog to the BG buoy in hopes of jigging up some live mackerel. Fortunately in no time at all, we were pulling mackerel over the gunnel.

In about five minutes, we had approximately 15 mackerel in the live well. To speed up the bait collection process, we chummed small pieces of pogie before dropping our sabiki rigs down. 

After we filled the live well, we headed closer to shore in search of hungry striped bass. 

Thankfully we had an outgoing tide. We set up shop in a spot where the water rips around a rock pile. The stripers in this spot lay on the bottom on the far side of the rip, ready to ambush unsuspecting baitfish as they get swept by in the current. 


Chumming and Chunking

We live-lined mackerel for about an hour without any luck. We then changed tactics, and tossed out a chunk of mackerel closer to the rocks.

I also began chumming small pieces of mackerel to see if I could coax the fish close to the boat. 

No less than 15 minutes later, we had a strike on the freshly chunked mackerel! We rigged two additional rods with mackerel chunks soon after. 

My friends Kyle and Brian both managed to land "keeper-size" striped bass within just minutes of one another!

We kept chumming and chunking and pulling in both schoolies and "keeper" stripers on mackerel. Surprisingly, we didn't get any bites on the live baits.

We then noticed that instead of swimming freely, the live mackerel would swim straight to into seaweed to avoid becoming prey. Perhaps next time we'll use balloons or large bobbers to keep them swimming on the surface.

In total we landed about fifteen fish, and kept three for a clam boil we planned later that evening. Best of all, this was Kyle’s first time ever catching a keeper-size striped bass - and he managed to land two of them!


Fresh Fish for a Feast

On the way home we pulled into James Hook Lobster Co. by boat (there’s a dock you can pull up to) and grabbed lobsters, steamers, clams and shrimp for the feast.

We made it home safely, filleted the fish, and had a nice clam boil in Charlestown.

The combination of chunks and live baits has worked for us many other times in Boston Harbor. Finding the bait and a good rip with large rocks is key - as this is where fish will be hiding.

If you don't have a boat, then you can take a ferry to the islands of Boston Harbor, and use the same tactics.

Good luck and see you on the water!

What do you think?

Let me know by commenting below.

  1. Going to Boston harbor Navy Yard tonight going to fish for strippers l think I will bottom fishing any other suggestions

    Reply
  2. Going to navy Yard Boston harbor Friday night for strippers are the strippers on the bottom anyone no

    Reply
    1. I’m not familiar with that area Bobby, but I would imagine a live eel or a fresh chunk of pogie fished along the bottom would work well. Gluck!

      Reply
  3. Are there stripers still in Boston harbor at the Navy Yard in Charlestown

    Reply
    1. I’m not familiar with the Navy Yard area Bobby, however I know there have been a lot of big fish in Boston Harbor this summer. I would think you’d have a decent chance. Gluck if you go! 👍

      Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing, Jon. Feel free to give “Stand Fast” a holler on 16 if you’re ever out there on a Monday.

    Reply

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