It only takes a few hours nosing around in a plastic sit on top kayak or fiberglass seakayak, killing off time from work, to discover what the Inuits and Northern Californians have long known: that kayaks are effective boats for saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing.
You’re also likely to discover something saltwater fishermen in Massachusetts have known for a nearly a decade and a half: that one of the Eastern Seaboard’s highly-regard inshore gamefish, the striped bass, has made a remarkable comeback after nearly two decades of declining population, loss of broodstock and overfishing by poorly-regulated commercial and recreational fisheries.
What’s not surprising is how many fish, striped bass and bluefish in particular, even the moderately skilled angler can catch while kayak fishing. Some take the pursuit seriously, going the whole route when they fish and rigging their kayaks with gear that ranges from drift anchors to fishfinders to gps units strapped to mounts in the cockpit.
But let’s focus on striped bass. They can be caught anywhere in coastal New England, and in Massachusetts, in particular, if you’re lucky enough to live near the coast here. There’s Loblolly cove in Gloucester; the mouth of the Annisquam River; Woods Hole’s turbulent tidal bottleneck; Bay View in Lanesville; Sandy Bay, Rockport; the Misery Islands, Manchester; Newburyport; Duxbury; Minot’s Light off Scituate and Cohasset; Marblehead; Buzzard’s Bay; all of Cape Cod. One can catch striped bass from a kayak in all of these areas. Methods range from trolling and chum-and-chunking; spincasting; tube-and-worm trolling; jigging and flyfishing.
One area worth fishing for striped bass from a kayak, particularly during the months of September and October, is the tidal rip, frequented by diving, screeching seabirds, off Deer Island in Boston Harbor. The area is known for more than just the ordinary fall fun schools of undersized fish: fishing deeper in the water column with herring chunks is a good method here for catching striped bass that are a full foot longer, if not more, than the current 28″ keeper minimum. Fish in the 40″-plus range are not rare.
Another area worth fishing for smaller but more numerous fish are the fringes of the high-speed Hingham catamaran commuter channel just off Long Island and Spectacle Islands in the lower southern half of Boston Harbor. Another area, further southwest, are the waters of Moon Island, off the Boston Fire Department’s training facility. And still yet another worthy area, particularly if you are a tube-and-worm striped bass fisherman, are the waters that surround Lovell’s Island, also in Boston Harbor.