This holiday weekend is filled with everyone wanting “one last summer weekend on the boat”, even though some of the best fishing is yet to come. Boston Harbor absolutely reflected both cases this past weekend. First the number of boats… between all of the regular city traffic with ferries, barges, tankers, and tugs that was already enough, but then add in the 40-50 boats around Deer Island causing a commotion. There was a lot of moving parts on the surface, but also a lot of fish below to be caught.
Heading out mid morning each day we were doing the same thing everyone else was, searching for a pogy school to get some bait. It did not take long to find a few schools inside of Deer Island and within 30 mins we had our fill. Given the number of boats on the Deer Island Flats and around the rip, we ventured a little deeper into the harbor towards South Boston to find our fish.
With a 40lb wire leader (in case of Bluefish) using two circle hooks, one in the nose and one in the tail, we slow trolled two pogies around other nearby schools. While approaching a school we would plan how to troll near it so that our bait would seem as if it was venturing out of the school to attract a near by Striped Bass. While you pass the school you can use your fish finder to see if you mark any Stripers or Bluefish stalking the bait. If you are able to mark a few fish, it will help you narrow down where your bait needs to be.
This weekend we were only able to attract Striped Bass to our baits, which will at first push your live bait to the surface. You will start to see the bait swim a bit harder, and its tail will leave a wake on the surface. This is a classic Striper hunting strategy and it only becomes more fun from there. Anytime now the Striper will attack from below until it is able to grab the pogy. Since we are fishing with a circle hook in its tail we instantly set the hook to avoid any deep damage to the fish. This should result in a hook set in the lip, and offer the chance for a very healthy release. We had luck all weekend when we found our own water and schools of pogies to work. The best action we found was on the side of the deep Boston Harbor channels that had bait schools near.
Two years ago this kind of action lasted into the first couple weeks into October so do not think its over quite yet. Get out there when you can, use your fish finder to find a pogy school holding Bass and Blues, have patience, and set the hook when you have the opportunity.