Prelude: Annisquam Project [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Prelude: Annisquam Project

08-05-2001, 09:58 AM
I only had a half day on Sat this weekend so decided to scout Annisquam and Wingaersheek on either side of the Annisquam River. Here's my report:

The commute: during off hours it's half the time to the other cape for me... a little over an hour. Unfortunately most of the time there is congestion heading north on 128, including noon on a Saturday. I can imagine it being bad on a hot weekend or an after work thing. Best to target early mornings or late nights and find a place to crash. Still the ride goes quick.

That part of the north shore has a certain quintessential (there's that word again) New England feel to it, I think you know what I mean. It's the rocky structures strewn in with the sand, and the water has a more Maine-like emerald tone to it whereas the Cape waters look a little more carribean at times. When you add the home strucutures and prominent grass marshes, it just looks different.

I headed up the east side of the Annisquam looking for boat launches, and first found an abandoned private marina off Wheeler St. I pulled down the drive toward the water, hit the emerg. brake on the steep ramp, and stepped out. Bait was everywhere, a mix of silversides and juvie herring up to 4 inches long. I could see deep into the water but saw no bass, then the rocky point to the left exploded with fat schoolie bass. I stumbled back to grab the rod out of the holder and proceeded to nail a few north shore schoolies from the refurbished end dock. It was fun to catch the old familiar striped guys in new water, or at least water I had not fished since I can remember. My truck door was left open and I had not donned my waders yet, so I had to chuckle. That was entertaining, now to figure this place out.

I didn't feel comfortable about this private marina setup but if it was all there was, so be it. I drove further along, poking down every side street until suddenly appeared the old familiar brown STATE RAMP sign. It was a beautiful public launch at the end of CORLISS street (APPLE street is easier) off WHeeler on the East side of the river. Great ramp, lots of parking but tidal. If you don't get there when there's water you'll be dragging the yak to the channel. Apparently the fishing can be good during this time - when the channel is the only thing left fro the ebb. Kind of like the spring clave HQ channel. Anyway, awesome public free launch and parking spot about mid-river on the east side.

But what about getting closer to Wingaersheek? That big opening where the atlantic surges in and out of the Annisquam over the knee deep sand bar, the deep cuts and rocks along the way, and the sandy shore where you could easily pull up the yaks to walk the beach were the gem of this stretch as far as I could tell.

I kept going all the way to Annisquam Village, and Laneville, searching and found nothing workable. It was getting close to 3pm so I headed back to 128 to try the other side, the west side.

I was tempted to stuff my face at Lobsta Land, but my curiosity was too strong so I headed up the road toward Wingaersheek. Along the way, there were three good launch spots - one for the lower river, one tucked away that no one would suspect, and most importantly another brown STATE RAMP sign and facility on the Jones River directly across from the red private marina (you could see it albeit distant) on the west side, inside the Jones River which is also a tidal ramp.

There were dozens of yakker's at Jones, this is a large facility and can handle lots of vehicles. One crew was enjoying refreshments and dinner on a gas grill at the lot - great scenery, looked like a winner to me.

I marked this one as a winner, tidal considerations not withstanding, and headed up to Wingaesheek to fish it on foot. I wanted to scope out what I could of one of the prime destinations for the yak trip. They wanted $20 at the gate for parking so I saked when they leave - they said "we're out of here at 4pm and the cops lock the gate between 8:30 and 9:00 pm".

08-05-2001, 09:58 AM
I came back at 4pm. The water was not that familiar gender-bender cold, in fact it was very nice. You could have swum in it for hours instead of the usual ten seconds. This was outgoing still so that might have had something to do with it. I was able to walk out almost a mile on the bar, way out by the bouys near Annisquam light. Thinking this would be better on the flood, I worked my way all the way into the head of the Jones River inside the Annisquam, picking up a few strong 20-24" schoolies along the way particularly where the concentration of bait got think.

People were clamming sweet white softshells along the way. Another nice thing we should consider for the outing.

The tide went slack and things got b-o-r-i-n-g. I took the time to walk all the way out the the end of the bar again. This is a total of 4 miles walking now (probably). I waited patiently for the tide to flood, and finally as that low angle glow of the setting sun painted the beautiful Annisquam scene, the flood began and brought a flow of hard fighting stripers across the flat. I has switched to a deep eel by then, and they were pouncing on it. I never saw a sand eel, just silversides and herring, but I guess they have seen enough in their day to want it. I was using a small silverside pattern earlier amidst the millions of silversides and that wasn't working.

Eventually, it was getting close to dark and I realized that the chance of finding a Chatham-style cow were remote with me being limited in knowledge of the area, so I decided to head out. As I was leaving the lot, the police were heading in - undoubtedly to lock the gate. It was 8:30pm, something to note.

In my opinion - the area is a yakker's dream. The only downsides are tidal effect of launches, boat traffic and those damn jetskis. The inside is threaded with a myriad of channels and there is tons of bait. I had no problem finding schoolies on the first try on foot but I would like to find the big girl hangouts. I think it will take yaks and rafts to make that assessment.

When the fish are in the vicinity, I would imagine they make a hard run into this estuary and it would be a bonanza. A criticial component will be to target the river when the fish are in the area. I did not get the impression that the kind of resident population that say Monomoy has, but who knows I am only judging by a short study from the shoreline.

We might uncover a cow hangout, this area definitely has the square area, food, conditions, and is a beautiful place to flyfish.

08-05-2001, 10:47 AM

Great report! I'm printing out what you wrote & I'm going to compare it to some maps. I should have some time to do some driving today. I guess high tide should be around 1300. I'll try to pick up where you left off, if I can figure it out. Drop me an email at home ( if you want me to head in a particular direction. GregO.

08-05-2001, 12:34 PM
GregO -

I would say that the only really great area to fish on foot would be the Wingaersheek Beach area when there is strong current, preferably the flood (based on the number of fish I hooked).

The outer bar would be great sight fishing, but the retreat back to shore has some very deep holes to watch for near the rocks. Play it safe and head back a little early. We're talking about a bar that nearly reaches the other side... it's huge and shallow. The fish came over it good on the flood last night.

If you are going out in the boat, I would say scope out everything!

08-05-2001, 04:19 PM

Sounds like you had fun in my old stomping grounds. The only reason I never speak up about Gloucester and the North Shore is that I moved "out of town" in 1990! Kind of makes any info that I have "out of date". Spent my first 25+ years in Lanesville.

You should have stopped at JT Farnham's in Essex and had a bowl of Manhattan Scallop Chowder. YUM!!

Oh Dad did pretty well last week on stripers after he dug his "mess" of clams for the week.


08-05-2001, 10:29 PM
That's a excellent report and it seems like you got a ton of information on two short outings... I will make some treks up there in September and October and that information will be invaluable. I will do some walking before I bring the yak to make some of my own observations as well.

08-06-2001, 08:25 AM

About a half hour after I posted, the weather went from Crappy to Beautifull. This made it a "beach day" & probably a traffic nightmare, so I decided to bag it. Wasted the day away at the in-laws pool staying cool & watching the Bo-Sox followed by a nice dinner at the Naked Fish.

Also, I did the pre-dawn assault Sat. Morning on the North & South ends of PI; two twinkeys to show for it!

08-06-2001, 08:55 AM
Sounds like a fun day of scouting. Wish I could have been there.

08-06-2001, 02:46 PM
All the above sounds likie a very good reason to "hunt" in our own back yards
Juro, Doug, whomever. Name the roads being traveled here, give a couple landmarks, please, as any time I have to drive up there it's always from point A to point B with no daydreaming in between.

08-06-2001, 06:01 PM
The only place that I can recall that has a place to park without hassles was the boat ramp at Jones Creek off of Concord Street. (Like I said 10 year old info.)
Other places you used to be able to put in were off of Washington St. at the Goose Cove bridge and the road that goes down to the river behind the Addison Gilbert Hospital.
With a high tide you could put in at the Mill River near Capt. Hook's. But the place is nothing but mud flats at low.
You can even go down to Lane's Cove in Lanesville. Launch out of the cove and explore the rocky shoreline.
Last but not least...there used to be parking for one or two cars at Annisquam light...I'm sure that is resident only these days.

09-06-2001, 01:26 PM
I missed this post while on vacation in Me.!
Wow, pretty far from Monomoy. This kind of effort is what we need to unlock the No. Shore mystery for the non bait fisherman.
Good job Juro and sorry for missing it. Look at the names on the responses-good crew. I'll join you on some fall recon too.