Stage Harbor/Oyster River Thoughts [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Stage Harbor/Oyster River Thoughts

12-10-2010, 08:12 AM
So while sitting around having some rum almost as old as I am the other day, I was thinking about fishing in Stage Harbor and Oyster River. I have caught fish in both bodies of water but never with any regularity. I keep the boat in Stage and see tons of pogies but not tons of bass/blues although I do hear about them. given the relative depth of Stage I would think it would hold fish especially in late May/early June. That main channel gets a lot of traffic but early in the morning could be good. I never put much effort into fishing it because I'm usually steaming right over it on the way to greener pastures. The Stage inlet definitely holds fish before the boats put them down as do the rivers in the spring but I was just thinking about the harbor itself, from the inlet back to the beach on the causeway.

12-10-2010, 09:15 AM
That whole area produces a lot of big bass for chunkers drifting deep throughout the year especially during the quiet hours and there is a contingent of night fishermen who crush big bass on swimmers. I usually fish by sight during summer but in fall I've joined the inlet night guys and landed (or hooked and lost) some of the biggest bass of the year on 'chicken flies'. I should spend more time researching that as there are a lot of 40+ inch bass in there in fall when the pogies have taken residence.

As far as the area around the inlet I've done well at the confluence of Oyster River but like you say not with consistency, and sometimes they strafe the quahog flats to the east but not always.

The most consistent event I've seen since the southway closure has been that they run certain lanes when the tide moves. Good for 5-10 'keeper' sized fish within a 2-3 hour span then it goes quiet.

Fish tend to run around a lot in that area during the tide changes to feed which makes them catchable from shore.

If you find where they are staging during slack tides it would be like hitting the jackpot. Before the Southway closed I had several staging holes in my back pocket and dead low could be the best fishing of the day when they holed up like that.

How good is your fish finder? :)

12-10-2010, 12:17 PM
I've rarely fished that spot at night so maybe I need to try that more. My fishfinder's pretty good and I've found some pretty deep areas back by the fish pier and Stage Harbor Yacht club. There are some spots where it's 20 or more feet deep. I'd like to try there really early one morning. That rip on the Morris island side of the inlet is nice too because it goes from 17 or so feet to 8 pretty quickly. Back by the drawbridge I've had good luck on foot as well as some other spots but they're definitely moving through. I'll get a couple at a time then nothing.

12-10-2010, 01:08 PM
I was catching blue crabs up inside above the bridge and had some big bass come looking for my discards mid-day, mid-summer low tide. Also a sea turtle in there this summer - surprised the crap out of me!

12-10-2010, 01:23 PM
wow a turtle would surprise me there. There were a ton of blue crabs in there this summer. In the tub too.

12-10-2010, 01:33 PM
this is basically what I do during the off season, sit around and second guess everything I did all season haha. I'll be analyzing spots all winter until the stripers and shad are the potomac, then I'll fish them for a month and a half and then it's back to fishing the cape!

12-10-2010, 02:08 PM
Next year will be a very different season for me. I will be exploring new areas in the rowing dory I built this summer.

12-10-2010, 04:16 PM

I kept my boat in Stage Harbor for about 4 years and have docked it in Outermost Harbor for the last 4 years. As Juro commented there are plenty of bass around most years and I have personaly witnessed a number of 20 lb + bass landed by boats fishing live bunker in daylight. I have not witnessed anyone landing large bass on artificial lures during daylight hours.

Stage Harbor was always loaded with schoolies in May and June. But the last two years have been much less productive, at least in my experience. Where I had caught a dozen or more fish in a couple of hours the past two years only yielded a few. I had my best results by concentrating on the shallow areas on both sides of the harbor.

A couple of years ago I was standing at the top of the gangway talking to a friend when we spotted a large bass, mid thirty inch range, stalking a small school of adult pogies. We watched that bass following the pogies as they circled around a small area. Rather than rush the school, the bass tried to cutout a single pogie. He almost succeeded a couple of times but on each occasion the pogie managed to reach the safety of the school as the bass tried to rush him. I finally had to leave so I don't know if the bass ever succeeded. Lesson learned, if you see a school of agitated pogies on the move concentrate your efforts at the back end of the school.

Thinking about new things to try or new areas to fish is a great way to spend the winter.


12-11-2010, 12:09 PM
An observation per the blue crabs this year - whatever triggers them to exit the estuary is sudden and pervasive. It seemed one day I was passing up dozens of big fall jimmys to hold out for freshly molted softshells and the next day there's not one crab in a mile of wading. The commercial clammers I talk to said the same thing, gone like someone hit a light switch.

So I did some research and they indeed leave and head for deep water, mostly burying themselves in hibernation for the winter out there in open water. They come back into the estuaries in spring. My guess is that they ride an ebb tide out when the water hits a certain temperature and their tolerance seems to be very low for anything beyond the cutoff.

I've got to think there is a massive striper feed session at the mouth when this happens out there by the lighthouse.

12-12-2010, 08:11 PM
Next year will be a very different season for me. I will be exploring new areas in the rowing dory I built this summer.
What type of dory did you build- do you have any pictures? Ron

12-13-2010, 07:58 AM
That's interesting what you said about the bass chasing pogies. I've had similar experiences where I was standing at the dock in Oyster River talking with someone and saw big bass come up on pogies rigth in front of me. I've actually seen this a couple times in the fall but I've never had an effective way to fish Oyster river. I guess wading the town landing is the best bet but I usually head for other areas when wading.

Juro, can't wait to see you rowing around the harbor this spring. That could be a great way to sneak up on fish. Down in DC, where I work, I rent rowboats in the spring (march, April, May) on the river to fish for the migrating shad and stripers and it's a very enjoyable experience.

12-13-2010, 08:34 AM
A Gloucester light 17' - I'll post some pics after work. Can't wait... I am especially thrilled to explore the virgin flats created by the new break on North Island, reminiscent of the 'Mecca' which I used to row out on a pontoon boat - and yes there were just as many Great Whites then as there are now :D

12-13-2010, 03:19 PM
That sounds pretty awesome Juro. Can't wait to see pictures.

12-13-2010, 08:26 PM
I'm pretty green when it comes to Chatham/Monomoy. My wife and I try to get up for a few days during the year. I'm up there enogh to know it is a jewel to fish but I just don't know the area that well. One area I try to fish when I do get up is stage harbor. I've consistently caught fish there. Nothing big, just some shorts, although I do remember one time when I was casting a fly to swing a fly through a rip current when I lined a fish. Well, it sounded like someone dropped a car in the water. Scared the crap out of me and my wife...

12-14-2010, 10:36 AM
Over the years I have had a lot of success in stage harbor and just outside of it. I've done a lot of exploring inside and have discovered a few spots that have produced for me. I prefer the outgoing, but have had some success on the incoming when I go far back in the harbor. There have been some great days when the inlet was full of pogies. Must admit though that this year it wasn't as reliable as it had been in the past. I hope that is not a trend.


12-14-2010, 02:32 PM
yeah the pogies love to camp out at the mouth of stage which is fantastic. back up inside the harbor, I've had good luck but only early in the season.