May 17th Fishing Report

The last few weeks of fishing have been really fun. Classic early season fishing but really fun! What we mean by classic early season is that most of the fish are still small and scattered, but what is so much fun is that almost daily the fishery is changing. New/larger fish are arriving daily and one day you fish a spot that you know should hold fish and nothing and a few days later, the fish are there. It has also helped that we have been FINALLY! blessed with some sunshine the last few days, which has awakened the bait and gotten the fish more active.

Fish are being reported all over the North Shore from Tuckernuck to Madaket to Dionis into the Harbor. There really is not one spot right now, but your best bet if wading is to find a shoreline you can walk and walk a couple of hundred yards working every inch. When you find a specific spot that seems fishy hold there for a few casts. Over the Winter, most of our shorelines change, even the north shore, so people’s go to spots adjust.

As to what lure to fish, fish have been fairly aggressive and not picky, that said, fish to the conditions. If the water is smooth and not much wind, surface lures have been working well, and if there is some disturbance, such as wind, fish below the surface. Many will use weighted soft plastics or ron z’s below the surface, personally I have been big into stick baits this year.

There are still Mackerel and herring about, around the boat basin, in the mooring field and out front off the jetties. If you are looking to bend a rod, this has been a lot of fun.

If you are here just for the weekend, go get involved! With some good weather this weekend the fish ar bound to get more and more active!

May 12th Fishing Report

It has been two weeks since the first fish was caught on island and while the average size remains small, the fishery has really begun to fill up and get interesting. In the last three days striped bass have been caught on the North Shore, in Madaket Harbor, around Tuckernuck and off of Brant Point. There was even an epic bass blitz in the mooring field off the boat basin.

On top of the bass, anglers have been catching mackerel off of the docks at the boat basin and just outside the Jetties. And perhaps the most exciting catch of the last few days was a gorgeous weakfish caught by Alex Rezendes.

Bottom line, the excitement right now is so infectious. Two weeks ago we were getting texts and phone calls every day from anglers, now we are getting them every hour.

As to what to use, there are no secrets out there, Albie Snax still seem to be the most popular, but many anglers are using small poppers and the hot new lures this year are stick-baits that act just like Albie Snax below the surface but are a hard bait. This time of year, always have your favorite lure ready to go, but with the clarity of the water and the active fish, this is when you start playing with new lures so you have options when fish start getting picky.

Big Conservation move by Virginia...

This Winter the Striped Bass fishery was officially deemed “overfished” along the eastern seaboard. In short, what this means, is that that the raw amount of fish are below the pre-determined threshold and that fish have been taken out of the fishery at a faster rate than they have been put back in. There are obviously many causes to a fish population falling, the primary of which is over-harvesting the large fish. Striped Bass mature where they can start spawning when they are roughly 4 years old or 28 inches. At this point the female fish continue to grow and the male fish growth process slows down, so most of the large fish (over 34 inches) harvested are female fish.

Virginia in a great move, closed the trophy season for Striped Bass. This is an incredible decision when the typically slow to move Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board said they would wait another harvest season, until the Fall, to make a decision on new regulations. Well done Virginia for going above and beyond! Read the Article

So this move highlights an interesting relationship between the federal and state governments on managing fish. States are responsible for waters within 3 miles of the coast while the federal government is responsible for waters outside of 3 miles. Famously, since the early 80’s the federal government has kept targeting bass in federal waters illegal. But the states take their lead on regulations typically from the ASBMB. Typically the ASBMB lays out a quota for all Atlantic states and divides that quota per state, based on a variety of factors and than the states implement how they want to manage their fisheries to achieve that quota. For instance, Mass has a bag limit of 1 fish per person over 28 inches recreationally while Connecticut has a slot limit. Most states commercial fishermen are allowed to target a limited number of big fish, in Mass that number is 34 inches.

There is certainly a debate out there looking forward what the right management tool is, which is probably why the ASBMB is dragging its feet. Some say close the fishery to harvest, some say implement just a slot limit, while others say keep just the trophy and allow all the fish to reach maturity.

The other conversation that should NOT be ignored though is the role that the lack of bait plays. It is no secret that scarcity in bait is a serious issue looking forward. Less bait, the the harder it is to feed and as history tells us, less reproduction. Herring, Bunker, while technically not overfished are heavily pressured to a point where there have been changes in quotas to try and stay above the threshold. Squid on the whole is healthy, but what is unhealthy is the localized depletion of the squid.

This article is not meant to scare anyone, more to create awareness. It will be important looking forward, that we not only look to release the fish we catch, but we focus on mortality of our catches and make adjustments to our techniques to reduce mortality rates.

Striped Bass are overfished

Hello Fishermen and Friends!

As the sun gets higher and fishing is starting to get on all of our minds we wanted to pass on a bit of a scary discovery, but one that many saw coming. At the meeting in early February of the Striped Bass Management Board it was announced that Striped Bass are officially being overfished and that the stock is declining and if the regulations are not changed, that the decline is expected to continue.

The findings came from the 2018 Benchmark Striped Bass Stock Assessmentfrom which the management board based its official statement. Yes, "overfished" is a technical term.

What is most interesting is that on Nantucket we would all agree last year that we had a great Striped Bass year, so this might seem out of left field. The reality though is that in the last eight years there have been three strong year classes and the fish that we are seeing between 15-30 inches are part of these year classes.

The issue is that very few fish between 32-42 inches are being caught. For the first time in a long time commercial fishermen did not catch their quota. The fear here is that with so few breeders that it will be difficult to rebuild the population in the coming years if regulations are not adjusted. In short, too many breeding fish are dying at the hands or recreational and commercial fishermen as well as by-catch to the trawlers. The spawning can not keep up with the death rate.

The board will be studying the data closely in the next few months and it is thought potential regulations could be adjusted by the Fall of 2019 for the 2020 season. Until then, we all must do our part and release as many fish as we can, while being mindful to using single hooks or at the least, pinch our barbs.It is very interesting that 9% of fish released are thought to die, so we must do our part to lower that number.

The resources below provide more information.