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Nathan Smith 05-23-2000 11:17 AM

I am going to try PI tonight, where have people be having the best luck? The Jettie the Bar, Joppa?

juro 05-23-2000 12:22 PM

PI's been good all-around... but if you get a low tide in the morning or evening definitely hit the stretch from the charter boats to the bar, with emphasis on the deep trench to the right of the docks, the first spit upriver from the bar, and the deeper holes around the bar.

Some nice fish have come from the jetty, although I have never made it down that far this year due to plenty of fish being around! Fish the fly deep and slow. Try to catch a crab if you aren't hitting any fish, take my word for it.

Past years I've pulled some good fish out if the deep hole at the base of the south jetty, and out of the first cove upstream from the jetty (look out for the concrete blocks). I think the beachfront is still a little cold compared to the river so the fish are definitely in the river.

The trend has been that the fish back down at the bottom of the tide to the trench from the basin to the bar. Emphasis on the upper end BTW, not the bar as in past years. The exception was the wild keeper night last wednesday after the lightning storm. During the low, the fish are in that trench thick. Once the tide floods again the fish resume their wanderings around the delta and the fishing is hit or miss.

If you end up fishing the early outgoing, I'd go to Salisbury and fish deep and slow in the seams forming off the pick, jetties and rock formations from the boat launch to the north jetty. Stop and throw a fly off the grass bank just down from the boat launch, sometimes there are nice fish dropping from the creek or just feeding at that spot. The mussel bars above the jetties compresses the current and holds fish often too.

I am unable to get out there tonight but let me know when you are going again.


Nathan Smith 05-23-2000 12:42 PM

Charter Boats? Which One? The one but the PI Beach Access or Higher up by Newburyport? The only place I have ever fished there is the beach on Plum Is. from that Bar right infront of you as you walk on the beach to the south jettie. Also are the places you are talking about accessible by foot?

ssully 05-23-2000 03:45 PM


Go to the last parking lot by the the old Coast Guard Station the Captains Lady charter boats are right there. Start fishing an hour before LT next to the boats. You can move downriver towards the jetties about half way you see the elbow(begining of the sandbar)good spot. But watch it wading there's a nasty current and a quick drop off with lottsa holes to step into. BE extra careful after dark and get the hell off the sandbar when the tide turns in.

juro 05-23-2000 08:03 PM

Sorry just got home... the boats are right in front to the left from the parking lot as Sully says. These are kinda his "home waters" so he can probably fill you in on some hotspots.

Going from left to right:

a) basin opening / mussel beds

Tricky wading, the mussels are goopy and don't provide good footing on certain tides. I catch fish here at slack tides, and when the water is dumping out of the basin at the beginning of the outgoing spring/fall. Not the best spot but good to get away from the hordes. Recommended for low slack this time of year, keep the fly off the bottom (snaggy).

b) to the right of the boat docks

Aside from a couple of snags and the current potentially swinging the fly under the boat and/or docks, a really good spot at low tide. If you can stand at the pilings and let the fly swing toward the boats you'll have no problem and find a bunch of fish. The current eddies to the left even on the outgoing just before the slack therefore it fishes with the swing away from the pilings on both sides of the low.

c) the bend

Just past the boat docks there are two docks that are dry at low. Starting there, the channel is right at your feet (per Sully's warning). Using sinking lines and weighed flies like the deep eel (clouser type) you can find a lot of fish cruising the dropoff very close to shore during the tide change. I consider the bend from the dry docks to the rip just upstream from the bar. It is characterized by the deep channel at your feet at low tide. Fish slow and deep. "Fish for crabs" is the anecdote I use.

d) the spit above the bar

Just before the bar, there is a spit that trails out into mid-river with the channel edge. This pocket holds a lot of fish, often as they back down with the tide. This is where the 30+ inch fish were caught on flies Wednesday after the lightning storm.

e) The bar

There is a ever-changing sand bar that protrudes out into the river just after the bend and spit. Traditionally, this bar has been a hotspot. I have not seen the level of attention given to this bar by the fishermen or the fish this year. This could change anytime... once again, I have done best keeping the sand eel fly on the sand in the lee side of the current.

f) The cove

I don't know if this is the correct name or not but there is a slow inside channel that stretches from the bar to the south jetty. Sometimes when the current is right the fish converge in this spot to feed on baitfish. Typically over the last few years I've noticed that when the bait goes into this trench, the fish are right in there with them. Look for terns as opposed to those small gulls. The small gulls pick up bait you can't even see but the terns come out with a sand eel moustache. Better yet big gulls hovering over big bait being blasted (herring, tinker, etc).

g) south jetty

There used to be a couple of concrete squares that the fish sat behind mid-outgoing just up from the base of the jetty. I have had a lot of fun 'painting' these blocks to tease the fish laying in their wake.

The base of the jetty has a very deep hole. I have been able to tease up some big fish from this hole but the sinking lines needed often snag on the rocks that line this hole. I would target this stuff either carefully during moving current or during the slack when they are apt to move further for a good looking fly (surface, etc)

The jetty itself... I don't like fishing rocks unless the tide is high enough to make the fish easy to land, and the bad rocks are covered with water.

h) beachfront

I don't often get this far from the CG lot, but have fished the rockpiles and jetties at a 45 degree angle from the shore on each side. When there is horizontal flow, there is a good seam and fish rove actively in this zone once the river gets too warm and the ocean warms closer to the preferred temps.

You can also access the beachfront from lots along the road on the way to the lot (ie: church, etc)

There are some choice rocks to target from the first lot at the left hand turn near surfland.

i) salisbury

I have good luck on the state beach side during the early outgoing, and sometimes the incoming. I start by throwing a fly off the grass bank near the launch, then hitting the seam off the pick if not crowded, working to the left and hitting every seam slow and deep. Both sides of a rockpile hold fish, the compression and the lee. One day down by the north jetty in a non-descript spot the herring came to my feet and would not leave even when I kicked my feet. I soon found out why, large bass came in and hit them. I had a sand eel on and the feast was over before I could switch. The herring sounded like they were hit with tennis rackets out of the water.

Then there's the refuge....

doogue 05-23-2000 09:17 PM

Hello Everybody.

I am planning on fishing Plum Island tomorrow night. If anyone wants to join me then drop a note to I drive a maroon Subaru Outback (NH plates) and I will be wearing brown neoprene waders and a blue/gray fishing vest. At night I will have my headlamp on. I will be flyfishing. It will be my first time fishing PI because I usually spend my time at Joppa. Juro's posts have been extremely helpful. Thank you Juro.

I also think that some of you might benefit from a nice satellite photo of the Plum Island area. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. You can clearly see the charter, the jetties, the sandbar etc.

Here is the URL where you can find those satellite photos: ight=500&image=257950&layer=ortho&zoom=10&old_zoom =10&width=400&height=400&middlex=200&middley=200&x =316&y=204\

Yes, enter the whole ugly thing. If it doesn't work then go to for a satellite photo of the entire Massachusetts coastline. Zoom in on Plum Island and find what you are looking for. This MIT site can be really helpful for finding good places to fish.

I hope that this helps you all find some good fish.

If you are at PI feel free to approach me tomorrow night (I will be there from 7 PM to 11 PM or so) so we can chat. I would like to assocaite some names with some faces on this board.

Have a good one.


juro 05-24-2000 07:36 AM

Hi Mike -

10:30-ish low tide at the mouth... dark at around 8:30-ish...

Make hay while the sun shines, I'd say and do not wade past your shins from the boats to the bar once the lights get dim.

From 7-dark I would fish a bright sand eel pattern right on the sand, from dark till you leave I would fish a black clouser style fly (somewhat large) with emphasis on the edge of the dropoff - crawling the fly up the edge onto the shelf while the current is running. Most hits will occur on the edge of the drop as the fly comes up onto the shelf.

Once the tide goes slack, I'd get close to the boats and the lights and fish flies with good profiles and presence mid-depth with snappy short strips. You often see the fish cruising past under the lights.

You'll have a good moon and it's supposed to clear around 9pm... we'll see. The fish could pull into the pocket above the spit, push the bait into the trench, who knows! I'd poke around to increase the odds of finding the action.

If you get a cross-wind, cast backwards or lefty - the most dangerous time to risk casting with the wind on the casting shoulder is in the dark. Just ask my brother the eye surgeon!

Can't meet you up there tonight, gotta take my best friend to dinner - it's my anniversary!

juro 05-24-2000 08:16 AM


Boy Mike - nice link! You're right it shows all the details... and zooms in too.

Makes me wonder if the backside of the basin offers any good opportunities away from the crowds...

Lefty 05-24-2000 09:21 AM

See the whole thing at: <a href="" target="_blank"><!--auto--></a><!--auto-->

Sully showed me this site last year. The cape is cool too and you can shift it over to a topo once you're where you need to be.

Yo Sully, they found our secret weapon.


doogue 05-24-2000 11:38 AM


Thanks for making those links so much easier to see and understand. And Juro, thanks for the added advice. I hope that the crowds aren't too thick tonight but I suspect that they will be. Maybe I will be motivated to take my kayak down next week as a vehicle to escape the crowds.

I'll post my results tonight.


ssully 05-24-2000 11:52 AM


You mean they discovered sluggos? OH NO!

juro 05-24-2000 11:59 AM

Mike -

I'm sure others will say this too but, the currents are such that a 'yak would have restricted use. Being out in the main Merrimac current would be a no-no, but exploring up inside the Blacks creek (salisbury boat launch) around the top of the tide would be pleasant and productive. Also, I've seen the fish and birds explode at the outlet of the next creek upstream from the boat launch (see aerial) at the start of the outgoing. This would be a short little paddle and you could fish form shore from the bank across from the launch. The basin itself might be fun on a full tide.

Good luck,

StriperTom 05-24-2000 03:26 PM

Just to add to the good information in the above posts, I have a section of my website set up as a Plum Island 'tour'..

Other than a novelty, it shows you pictures of what different parts of PI look like, which are accessed by the same aerial photo that is shown above.

Check it out, along with the usual 'guy holding fish' pictures :)

-- Tom

doogue 05-24-2000 11:05 PM


I did hit PI tonight. Started off fishing to the right of the drawbridge on the way to PI (to the right as you are driving to PI from Joppa). Picked up three micros there (first striper of the year!) and then moved on to the Coast Guard station. Parked and walked to a spot just to the right of the dock/pier that is just downstream from the Charter Boats. Saw a spin fisherman pick up one 20 inch fish. Then my luck improved. I picked up maybe 14 or 15 fish. Maybe 5 of those were over 20 inches and none of them over 24. Still, I had a blast. Nobody around me (and there were plenty of people) was catching that many fish but for a few other fly guys who were adjacent to me. We were all fishing clousers (mostly chartreuse but I picked up a few on a black one as the sun went down).

Then I headed to the sandbar. Picked up one but the mung was just thick enough to warrant my calling it a night. And it was a good night.

Thanks to all that helped me out with the PI advice.


juro 05-25-2000 07:19 AM

Tom -

I really enjoyed your site... I'm working on a page called "recommended reading" and would like to link it if you don't mind. There are a lot of way cool member sites to link as well as some really important stuff to stay tuned into regarding the environment, organizations to support, etc.

So tell me about that seal... did you feed it or did it think your wader leg was a hot babe seal?

Mike -

Sounds to me like you had a very pleasant night on the water! Hope to run into you up there one of these days, I drive a green Toyota pickup and wear tan breathable waders with scuba boots... everything else I wear varies from day to day, even my stripping basket and choice of rods.

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