Terry Nugent is one of the best sportfishing guides on Cape Cod, MA, which many consider the heartland of American saltwater fishing. I was looking for a return to New England this fall, complete with some fishing for the big, namesake, coldwater Cod, so it was natural for me to give Terry a call. Unfortunately, Terry’s striper report was not positive; it seemed that the fall migration was scattered and weak, and the chance of a big bass was slim. We discussed all sorts of other options based on my dates, and settled on a trip to Cashes Ledge, about 80 miles offshore. The plan was to do a show about vertical jigging for all sorts of bottom fish, while hoping for one of the truly epic deep-water cod and haddock that can be found in the colder waters off New England. Cashes Ledge has been closed to commercial fishing for 15 years, and the reports coming from there this fall were of fish much larger than those being taken closer to land. This whole idea sounded fine to me, as I love dropping butterfly jigs to the bottom, never knowing just what is going to bite.
- Travel : EASY
- Lodging : Lots to chose from
- Food : Great restaurants
- Charter Captains : riptidecharters.com – there are many from small skiffs to large center console and sportfish boats
As the dates of the trip got closer, I began nervously watching the weather. I could see that things were deteriorating fast, and that the window for this trip was closing. I decided to get things moving. When I arrived on the Cape it was blowing 25, and Terry and I agreed that an offshore trip was not possible. With nowhere else to turn, we turned to plan C: an inshore striper show, which I was not all that excited about. Having just come off a show filming stripers, I could not imagine how we could possibly make this show different. And then Terry’s genius idea… we’d simply catch bigger ones, and do it at night!!!
Terry is a seasoned and very versatile angler. He had no problems shifting plans to put us on the big bass, but there was absolutely no time to lose. He wanted to go right away. Our crew had been traveling all day; it was 6:00 pm and Terry wanted us ready for a 9:00 pm departure. It was clear to the entire crew that there was no option, so I got all of my tackle together while Tim and Dan assembled their cameras, mics and lights. After we’d managed a quick bite to eat, we met Terry at the Marina.
There were reports of some big bass to the south and just off the beach, but Terry wanted to check a few other spots on the way. I threw gear at some rock piles and the mouth of some small tidal rivers as Terry drove slowly, watching his Raymarine sounder. We weren’t seeing much. We kept working our way steadily down the beach until midnight, when we finally hit the jackpot.
T[pull_quote_center]he sounder lit up, and it was absolutely loaded with fish.[/pull_quote_center]
The sounder lit up, and it was absolutely loaded with fish. On the first pass Terry hooked a 30-pounder on a live eel. After a few photos we swung back around and followed the same track. Just like that we were on again. The night bite was on, and we were in the thick of it!! Now filming at night is not very easy; we are forced to slow everything way down, and take our time in order to capture all that is going on in the darkness. The problem is, when I’m getting bit it’s hard for me to think about cameras. I just wanted to stay hooked up and land as many big bass as I could, but Tim, my producer, kept me on task. Fortunately, on the next drift I got the big one. We taped it at 52 inches; a true Cape Cod Monster taken under the night sky. With that colossal fish, we wrapped up the night session and headed back to the hotel for some sleep. Without a doubt we’d be coming back the following night to see if we could get the fish again, only on lures.
The next morning, the wind was still blowing hard, and our options were limited. We found a few cutsbetween small islands that were loaded with schooling stripers and bluefish. The Yo-Zuri Mag Darter was without a doubt the lure of the day. The erratic action and rattles of that lure made itirresistible, and we racked up a good number of fish. Any angler can cast the Yo-Zuri a mile, so very few fish were ever out of range. Despite our success through the day, I could not stop thinking about another night session and a return visit to the land of the big boys. After catching dozens of smaller fish, we packed it up early and go get some rest before another moonlight session.
We decided to get out alittle earlier in hopes of finding some big fish on the surface, but through dusk they never showed. The weather was deteriorating fast, with wind blowing even harder than it had the night before. We moved down the beach to the area where we’d found the fish, and sure enough, we located them on the sounder. We started working the area with lures from both Yo-zuri and Hogy. I cast for a couple hours but just couldn’t get bit. Terry switched us both over to live eels; we made a couple dozen more drifts and just couldn’t make it happen. The fish were there but we couldn’t get bit with lures or with live bait. It was all pretty frustrating. A few other boats showed up while we were fishing, and over the radio we determined that they were not getting any action either. The tide was not going to switch for another few hours, and though the big bass would probably bite on the change, we were pretty worn down. We’dbeen going hard for a couple days, and though Tim said he was willing to stay out, he also admitted he had plenty for the show. As much as I hated to leave, we all had early flights the next morning, and I for one was looking forward to getting back in my bed. The messages from home said that my girls had big plans waiting for me upon my return, and I could tell by their tone I’d better rest up. We reeled up, stowed gear, and left the rest of the striped giants alone for the night. But one thing is for certain: I can’t wait to get myself back to Terry Nugent’s Cape Cod!