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Hot Spots


Last year we greeted September with less-than-high expectations, and perhaps a bit of anxiety, as summer wound down.
By Jamie Golden

The hope was for something of a fall run of big striped bass, but based on recent history the chances of this materializing in the Bay State was unlikely. Some set their sights on chasing funny fish, hunting false albacore along the Southside. Not a bad choice considering the fast action seen in the years just prior; but alas, conditions never developed to bring these tropical visitors close enough for a real shot at anything other than a dream of a silver ghost.

And so as September faded into October, the colors of autumn signaled another saltwater season was soon to be etched in the logs of fishing trips bygone. But I wasn’t going to close this chapter without a few more entries. September had been relatively dismal; and while some guys were thinking trout ponds or tree stands, I wasn’t ready to stow my surf rods for the year. No, I had a hotspot in my pocket, one that has produced year after year and after good seasons, bad seasons, warm spells, and cold. October was upon us and that meant it was time to check out the Provincetown Jetty for a shot at some monster bluefish.

The Provincetown jetty, otherwise known as the West End Breakwater, is located just about as far down Route 6 on Cape Cod as possible, at the tip of Provincetown, Massachusetts. And October is the perfect time to make the trek. Gone are the tourists and scantily-clad eccentricities of the summer season, replaced with the artists and fishermen you’d expect to find in this place of beauty, which is one of the most picturesque seaside locales in the Northeast. The color of P-Town remains, though, with weekends seeing couples seeking a romantic getaway; but the locals bring a sense a relief to the air and the whole village seems relaxed along Commercial Street, all the way to its end, where it meets Province Lands Road.

Here, at the tip of the world, the 1-1/2-mile jetty sprawls across Provincetown Harbor to the true tip of the Cape. West End Light greets those who make the walk across the mostly flat and easily traversed jetty. Long Point, just past West End, beckons those beach-goers and anglers who are up for a long walk. And then there is blue. The blue of the tidal pools, reflecting the hues splashed across the sky. And the blue lighting up the flanks of what just might be the season’s biggest choppers.

The first time I actually discovered this fishery, it was more of an accident than anything else. I had been visiting my sister in Truro in late October, equipped with my surf gear, with late season stripers in mind. But the outer beaches had been less than fruitful that year so the following morning I took a drive into town to grab a coffee and read the paper alongside the jetty. Eventually I took a walk out onto the jetty and saw the blood and then more signs of what appeared to look like the remnants of a blitz. This being almost Halloween, there were no tackle shops to drop in for a report; but I knew as the tide came up later in the day, I’d be back. When I returned, I found that I wasn’t the only surfcaster in town. Although the lack of recreational fishermen was surprising, the few salty dogs who were there informed me that this was a seasonal occurrence as big choppers, and occasionally a large bass or two, strap on the feedbag at high tide, trapping baitfish against the jetty. The big fish were fattening up for their trip south, and the following few hours saw double-digit bluefish destroying my topwater plugs. Ten- to 15-pounders were the tale of the tape, but I saw at least one that was in the upper teens. And that’s how this October hotspot ended up in my pocket.

Fast forward to last October where I previously noted a dismal September. The week after Columbus Day I recorded similar action as to that of my first trip, and, I might add, many years in between. However, it was more of a nor’easter than Indian summer and heavy gear was the call of the day. I came equipped with multiple topwater plugs, but the heavier pencil poppers, like the Left Hook pilgrims, cut through the wind with a cutting precision. At one point it was either a fish or a swing and a miss on every cast, and I was maybe one of four anglers in on the bite. And at a mile and a half long, there is room to spread out. I found that if there was a lull in the action, just wait it out and the fish would run the jetty before I had the chance to actually make my move.

If you decide to give the jetty a try this month, plan on arriving at least two hours before high tide, with an hour or so following slack. Gear-wise, depending on wind, a 9-foot rod will get the job done, but a 10-footer will cover the bases. And forget the wire, to increase your hookups, and give yourself a shot at a possible bass, use 40- to 50-pound mono leaders. A bag of topwaters is all you’ll need, but please crush those barbs. If you’re releasing fish it makes a huge difference, and the way things are going, coming down with a case of the “blues” just might be the only game in town in a few years.

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