Scorton Ledge is one of the most well known fishing locations on the Cape. Almost everyone who wets a line in Cape Cod Bay has at least heard of the Ledge. So far in 2011 the Ledge has already coughed up another 50 pound bass to one fortunate angler.
If history repeats itself, those two 50 pound bass are just the tip of the iceberg. As mentioned before, just about everyone who fishes Cape Cod Bay knows the Ledge produces nice bass. It certainly is no secret. However there are many questions as to the reason behind Scorton's phenomenal fishing.
Why is the Ledge such a productive area? What attracts the enormous schools of big bass each summer? How come trolling tubes works so well? Are there other methods that work too? Why do bass stack up on the Ledge during the late summer and early fall? The list of unanswered questions continues. A general understanding of the Ledge will, however, at least improve your chances of being there when the fishing is hot. There does seem to be certain criteria to a successful Scorton fishing trip.
It's my understanding that the Ledge is more like a hump than an actual ledge. On a full moon low tide, the depth on top of the Ledge may be a mere 10 feet. I'm not a geologist, but it would make sense to say that the Ledge may of been formed by glaciers. Much of Cape Cod's landscape was shaped by glaciers advancing and retreating thousands of years ago. From what I've gathered, the Ledge has a muddy bottom that is strewn with large boulders. I have even marked boulders on my sonar that have risen 10 feet from the bottom. The structure makes it a fantastic area for sea bass and lobster. During the summer, the Ledge is covered with lobster pots. Drastic depth changes, a fleet of boats, and tons of lobster pots make Scorton a difficult place to fish-especially for Ledge virgins.
The trick to beating the fleet to the bite lies in an angler's ability to predict when the bass will appear on the Ledge. From my experience, spring-time fishing at Scorton is more consistent than during the summer and fall. Sometimes in the spring it is possible to pick a few fish off the Ledge before heading off to more productive areas. The bass don't seem to "stack" up on the Ledge as often at this time of the season. However this luxury of finding at least a fish or two on the Ledge fades as summer approaches. Last summer we did not catch a single bass on the Ledge during the month of July.
Towards the end of summer, things start improving again at Scorton. The bass' behavior seems to change as summer gives way to fall. At this time of the year, bass will often "stack up" on the Ledge. An entire school of stripers will appear out of nowhere, and remain on the Ledge for a tide, day or week at a time. This usually occurs after three or four days of a brisk onshore breeze. It is a bit of a mystery as to why bass stack up during and after an onshore wind. Some fishermen believe bait gets "blown" onto the Ledge. The bait in turn convinces large schools of bass to stack up at Scorton. Some theories point towards the actual creek itself as the determining factor. We may never know for sure the actual reason behind a Scorton Ledge bass blitz.
I believe bass congregate at the Ledge for a much different reason-to feed on the plethora of sandworms that call the Ledge home. Sandworms prefer muddy sediment, much like the Ledge's. Sea bass (not striped bass) also love to eat sandworms. Throughout the season, the Ledge is often covered by sea bass. Because sandworms are a staple part of a sea bass' diet, the presence of so many sea bass on the Ledge indicates there is a strong possibility that the Ledge is also home to thousands of sandworms.
If bass are focused on sandworms while at the Ledge, then this could explain why tube and worm rigs work so well. Sandworms can grow to be as long as four feet and are often red or orange in color. It'd be easy to conclude that bass at the Ledge mistake tubes for big sandworms. The bass' tendency to move closer to shore during late summer and fall, coupled with strong onshore winds draw bass to the Ledge. Three or four days of a strong northwest wind will "kick up" the Ledge's muddy bottom. All this motion in the ocean disturbs the sandworms that are usually hunkered down in the mud. Exposed sandworms make an easy meal for striped bass.
It is my understanding that sandworms usually spawn during the spring, however I am not going to disregard the possibility that a spawn also occurs on the Ledge late in the summer-around the same time that Cape Cod experiences brisk northwest winds. When spawning, mature male and female sandworms leave their muddy boroughs. Male worms surround females, hoping for a chance to reproduce. Worm spawns can occur on an enormous scale, with thousands of worms participating in a single spawn.
Huge Scorton Ledge sandworm spawns could help to explain why bass stack up on the Ledge. If a brisk onshore breeze triggers a spawn, it could be the reason why a huge school of bass magically shows up on the Ledge, when one day prior not a single fish could be found. Sandworm spawns could also help explain why bass prefer a tube and worm rig at the Ledge. On most trips, the fish refuse to hit anything but a properly trolled tube.