Our inshore Striped Bass fishery is peaking right now. It’s really good. I don’t like to exaggerate and say you’ll catch tons of fish everytime you hit the water, but our fishery is about as consistent as you get. These next two weeks are always the most productive for Bass, so make some free time and go enjoy your time on the water.
Our Striped Bass fishing has improved over previous years for several reasons. When we look at a Striped Bass Stock we have to make sure we look at both the demand and the supply of the fish. There is no doubt that the fish are in high demand as they are the most targeted inshore specie up and down the east coast. Regulators have done an ok job managing the demand side with commercial and recreational quotas that could be adjusted more, but they are being managed. What is important for regulators to remember is that they are not regulating a consistently reproducing fish. Some years conditions are excellent and reproduction rates are high and some years they are not. We are fortunate to be in a positive trend from a supply side as we have had 3 strong year classes in the last 6 years. Those fishing the harbors are catching lots of schoolies which are the 2-3 year old fish or in the 12-20 inch range. This correlates with the strong 2014 and 2015 year classes. The class that we are most excited about though is the 2011 class. This group of fish came North and surrounded the island in droves last summer as anglers were regularly catching 25-28 inch fish and they hung around for a lot of the summer. These fish are back and are all over Nantucket Sound, have pushed along the South Shore and are in the western edges off of Nantucket. In short time they will push to Great Point and the eastern edges as well. It is incredibly important as a community that we push hard to manage the demand side and only keep fish now and again so that our kids can have the same fishery or better than we have.
The other important reason why our fishery has been more consistent is that we have not seen as much pressure from the Squid Fleet south of the Island. They have definitely made their presence made and as recreational anglers, we wish they would not be there at all, but there are fewer boats this year than years past. In the short term, this has dramatically improved our fishery. Simply, fewer boats fishing the squid, means more bait gets through. If more bait gets through, more fish eat more bait and more anglers catch more fish. Bait is king in any fishery which is why we have been fighting so hard to protect our inshore waters. While we have seen fewer squid boats this year, it’s still early and the boats that have been there may have already inflicted their damage. Our big concern is that those boats might be destroying the habitat and the reproduction cycle of the squid. If we see an abundance of squid again in the offshore rips in a few weeks, it will mean that the lower pressure on the bait has had a significant impact on the fishery. We shall see, but for now, our fishery is quite strong.
Bass fishing in harbor has been consistent all season. The biggest change in the last 10 days has been the size of the fish. We are seeing plenty of keeper caught throughout the harbor. While the harbor is 64 degrees, there are plenty of deep holes with colder water, so fish are happy hunting in the warmer water and settling back to the cooler water. Our biggest change is that the North Shore is slowing down a bit. It could be that there are not the deeper water holes like we see in the harbor. Those targeting fish on the north shore in the evenings or at night are still seeing bent rods, but the day bite is not what it was. In general though, the South Shore is likely the most consistent bass fishery. We are still seeing temps in the high fifty’s, which is perfect for Bass. We are seeing fish caught all day and into the night. The evening to night will produce the most fish and as the water warms up, this will continue to prove true.
ANd while most of this report is focused on bass, don’t forget about the bluefish. Fishing on the southeast corner of the island has been excellent for blues. All the way from sankaty around the corner to tom nevers these fish are being caught from the beach and the boat. While this time of year we like to see anglers focus on catching Bass, you can’t ignore the value of bending a rod.
With the ocean water warming up a bit and tons of bait in our fishery, we are seeing the rips starting to hold fish. This will only get better in the next couple of weeks and is the natural transition in our fishery. So Dad’s, if you get some free time on Sunday and want to get out in the boat, go enjoy yourselves, because Bass fishing is great right now! Happy Father’s Day and tight lines.