Pro Tips to Turn Fishing into Catching

By Captain Ralph Wilkins 

Finally, spring has arrived. Many of us have already been eating fresh fish for dinner so congrats on your early season catch. For the others, there may be motor problems, transmission issues, family issues, or possibly a new job with less time to fish?

While fishing is a top priority for many of us writing and reading the magazine, life occasionally throws challenges at us when we proceed to get our boats in the water and get fishing. But eventually, the circle of life will have you fisherman back out fishing and bending a rod! Good luck turning those wrenches and please keep smiling!

The ground fishing was fast and furious on the FV Odysea’s first trip of the year out on Jeffreys Ledge. It was non-stop action on small cod and haddock. Many shorts were reeled up the 170 feet of water and released successfully and enough keepers were caught to make the trips worthwhile. Just a reminder to all anglers that keeper size is now 21 inches on Cod and Haddock with 9 fish Cod and 3 fish Haddock catch limits. North of Cape Cod, please check the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries website for specific details as well as all the recreational size limits.

We tried various jigs and teasers first thing in the morning but the fish didn’t seem interested. But once we anchored and started baiting up with the clam bellies we brought with us, the rods started to bendconsistently.Ithinkwiththefishin the mud at this time of year, it seemed they were more interested in the clam bellies than chasing baits simulated by jigging. Once more sand eels move in and the fish start chasing them, I believe that will change and the jigging will be the method of choice.

The following week we mixed it up a bit and fished East of Stellwagen Bank after a report from Greg Sears at Mass Bay Guides that there was a better ratio of keeper to shorts where he was fishing. Greg, on “For Tuna,” reported a couple of limited out days. Congrats to Greg and his team! He has a classy operation with his three boats chartering daily out of Scituate. My trip up the entire length of Stellwagen indicates the stage is set for a good fishing season; there were significant readings along the bottom and many gigantic plumes of bait off and on the entire trip from P-town to Gloucester.

With tuna season just around the corner, we still have very cold water and thus cold temps. There are reports of some warm eddys moving into the canyons already, so It won’t be long now till the Penn Internationals are loaded aboard our ships and headed to sea to do battle with various species of Tuna. Don’t forget to send your pics and reports to ODYSEATUNA@!

Ralph’s Crew Reports: After a long hard winter, spring has finally sprung. The Flounder fishing started off slow with cold water temps, but by the first week of May the winter Flounder was on fire with a lot of jumbos up to 3 lbs coming over the rails. The Bass fishing is red hot right now on bunker, both chunking and live-lining. It is no problem limiting out on Bass. The fish are nice sized, averaging 12 to 25 lbs. The yellow-eyes demons (Blues) have shown up as of yesterday and are eating everything in sight.  – CAPTAIN STEVE, LADY M CHARTERS 


Captain Ralph FEATURED photo3Captain Ralph Joins Tim Keer and Elizabeth for a day out on Jeffrey’s Bank.

Captain Ralph Photo1Rubin Oliveria caught this haddock while out with Captain Ralph.

Captain Ralph Wilkins HeadshotRalph Wilkins is a contributing editor for Coastal Angler Magazine. Wilkins is captain of the Odysea and popular cast member of National Geographic Channel’s hit television show Wicked Tuna. Email Captain Ralph at ralphjwilkins@, visit his website at odyseatuna. com, and be sure to like “Captain Ralph Wilkins” on Facebook.