There are not too many ways to say it, but fishing is excellent right now. Simply excellent. If you are up here for the week, please make sure to find a way to get out on the water. We can not say it enough. This is the best bass fishing in years and the bluefish are coming in thicker and we even saw another bonito today…. Honestly. please find a way to get on the water, whether it be from beach or boat. You won’t regret it. For sepcifics, stop into the shop as for where to go. Go wet a line!
It is with a heavy heart that I write this fishing report as one of our fishing community is still on the high seas fishing. I will not recap what happened, but the entire fishing community and island has been saddened all week with the disappearance of Vitaly Filiutovich. As with all moments of sadness, there are many ways we can handle it and we hope that rather than hide and be scared of the “what ifs”, that the Nantucket community will pick up their rod, grab their kids and get out and go fishing.
It is the end of June and all of us who live here are exhausted from making this island perfect for ourselves and those who call Nantucket home in the summer. Those coming to visit us are exhausted from the stresses and toil of the real world, school and all of life’s stresses. It is a perfect moment for the ENTIRE Nantucket community to count their blessings for how fortunate we are and to forget about the to do lists and to find time for what matters most…. family, friends and…fishing.
As you have read in the reports all season long we are having the best striper season in memory. This is largely because of the large amount of bait in the water. Now one might ask, we have been hearing about bait being overfished for years, why is it now so solid? The big reason is the squid laid their mops early and many of eggs were able to hatch before the squid boats got to them and thus our water now has immature and mature squid in it, which is a striped basses dream. Our water also has some herring, as well as mature and the first signs of immature sand eels. An early Spring helped our baitfish and both fishermen and stripers are benefiting.
Our fishery is also starting to fill in with Bluefish, Fluke and SeaBass. I would not say these fish are thick yet, but they are coming and the fluke in particular are getting more and more abundant by the day and are definitely worth fishing for.
From the beach, the southeast side has a lot of fish, but also a lot of weed. Most of the fishing right now is focused on the south shore from Tom Nevers to Cisco. Throughout the whole stretch fish any spot that looks fishy. What does that mean, well, wherever there is a shallow spot or white water, fish on the down-tide side of that shallow spot. If this doesn’t make sense, come in and ask…. But there are lots of fish and they are still aggressive. These fish are attacking bombers as well as soft plastics.
From the boat, the western edges are still producing as are the southeastern edges. Both have a ton of fish and are loaded with life. As discussed with a friend this week, there is “an explosion of life” out there. There have even been a few whales spotted on the south side. Great Point has been producing as well, which is exciting. It has not been hot and heavy, but it is producing. bluefish and bass. Sankaty has also been good to fishermen who are fsihing down deep. Those looking to push to cape cod, there are also bass up at hankerchief shoal.
As you go fish this coming week, please make sure to stay safe. We hope everyone takes this week to relax, celebrate and be thankful for what they have and where we live and please donate some positive thoughts to our fellow fisherman Vitaly.
We always look forward to the middle of June, specifically June 15th as this is the date when stripers typically start coming into their full glory. Well goodness me, these fish have outperformed so far this year and are here and are active. The island is now officially surrounded with fish being caught off the south shore and east side as well as the harbor and the north shore. If you take a boat around the island you will find piles of birds every couple of miles and under those birds are sand eels and squid and stripers and some blues chasing them around.
If you are not here and love stripers, find a way to get here and if you are here and are working too hard, take the time off!
As for where to go: If you are in a boat, just drive around the island. The western edges have fish, miacomet rip has fish, old man has fish, sankaty has fish and great point has fish. Great point is not as consistent as the southern edges, but there are fish there. And likely, on your way anywhere, you will see piles of birds on bait…Fish these as well. If you are fishing in an edge, you are going to want to fish something with a higher profile, a Squid fly pattern, 9-10 inch Hogy or Albie Snax or Sluggo. Try and leave the treble hooks at home as the single hooks work and are way better for the fish. if you are fishing birds, go for a low profile lure such as a small hogy paddletail or a deadly dick, something that mimics the sand eels. ***Remember, the reason the bass are so active in the rips this time of year is because they are chasing the squid, but in the open water, they can not catch the squid so they are after the sand eels.
If you are a beach fishermen, you are in luck as daily we are hearing people catch multiple fish in an outing. Again, the south shore has been hot. Cisco/Nobadeer and Sconset are the two access points we would push you too. As for what people are using, its is a mixed bag, but small weighted soft plastics have been key. Bombers work as well, but can cause some serious damage. Also, don’t be afraid to throw something on the surface such as an Atom Popper.
As for size of these fish, we are hearing of some fish in the mid to high 30’s being caught, which is awesome, but most of the fish people are catching are schoolies. As many of you have heard, this winter striped bass were deemed to be “overfished” which is a technical term meaning that fish are not reproducing at a fast enough rate to replace the amount of fish being extracted from the fishery. The simple explanation is that for years we have been over-harvesting the breeding fish To the naked eye, it seems that the Striper population is incredibly healthy, but the problem is that we do not have enough big fish to reproduce. We have heard from regulators that they plan on adjusting regulation in the Fall, until then, it is up to anglers to fish in a way that reduces mortality and to be thoughtful about keeping fish.
None of the above is meant to discourage fishing, more to be mindful while doing so. We have an incredibly special fishery that it is up to us to maintain. Keep fishing and tell us the stories.
We love Spring Fishing, We love Spring Fishing, We love Spring Fishing! You just never know what you are going to get. Just last evening I got texts/emails from 4 different friends telling me of them catching fish at Dusk. This got me fired up for fishing today. A slow start led to a strong finish and we had an awesome day catching stripers in the sun on the surface. Than the greatest gift of all, I am greeted at the dock by my wife and son and I say we are going to catch James a fish. Well an hour later, three fish on the line and 7 fish missed we still have the skunk on the boat but boy are we laughing and having fun.
I share all of the above, because what makes Spring so much fun is the unpredictability. Some days are awesome, some are ok, but you are always moving and hunting and no matter the results with the fish so close to shore, the fishing scene is always gorgeous and worthwhile.
As for Locations: we are starting to hear of stripers being caught on the South Shore and Low Beach even produced a #releaser on Wednesday evening. We have yet to hear the South Shore get hot and heavy, but this sounds like the start of it. Both harbors are still producing very well, especially in the evening hours. It is hard to point to specific location as most of the shorelines have fish, anglers must be willing to walk them and work them. If possible this weekend, we heavily suggest trying to get out to coatue and work both the bends and the exterior shoreline.
As for size, fish are all over the place. The smallest fish I caught today was 16 and the largest 27. It is awesome not knowing what you are going to get, hence the unpredictability of Spring.
As for what is working: Most anglers are still fishing soft plastics heavily and these are working, but anglers moving on to poppers, walk the dog lures and stickbaits/twitchbaits are getting rewarded. Stickbaits/twitchbaits stay below the surface and dance up and down with a twitch of the rod, much like a soft plastic. Walk the Dogs and poppers are just fun, especially in the evening when fish are active and hunting the surface. It is easy to be a one trick pony, but we highly suggest varying up a lure and its color if fishing slows up.
As for the flies, this is the time of year to throw a fly rod if you have one. The fish are in the shallows and they are active feeding on smaller bait. If you target a sunny day and you find the sand on the points of coatue and eel point you can certainly sight fish, but fishermen are mostly blind casting in 2-3 feet of water and are doing very well. This time of year, you don't need to go fancy, clousers are king. White and olive and if you want some fanciness chartreuse.
Also remember in the Spring, in the shallow water, you rarely want to have a consistent retrieve. Twitch the rod tip, reel more slowly than you are accustomed to and let a lure “die” for a second or two and when you do this, you will often get a hit. This is true for both fly and spin.
Now that the advice is over, go fish, please. Keepers(releasers) and shorts are being caught, fish are active and moving and whether you catch a fish, miss a hit or enjoy the sunset, we can just about guarantee your time on the water will be worth it.
We love Spring on this island for so many reasons, none the least of which is the awesome skinny water fishing, and this Spring has yet to disappoint us, in fact it has been just the opposite, awesome. Most of the fish are concentrated on the north shore and the harbors, which is typical for this time of year, but what has been different is how long the big bait has stayed around. Both harbors and the north shore are loaded with Mackerel. This has made a difference thus far as usually the fish come to our shoreline this time of year to rest, warm up and feed some. The fish this spring are feeding heavily and already showing some girth.
In the last two days we have heard confirmed reports of Keepers being caught. Wednesday during the day John Colten go the first and Capt. Cam followed up in the afternoon and than last night a bunch more were reported including a 36 inch bomb!! We have caught plenty of fish in the 25-27 inch range as well, so we have some size around.
As to where to fish, there is no secret spot. Both Madaket and the main harbor have been producing as has the north shore. Do make sure you know what the tide is as many spots in the harbor only fish well around the high tide, while some only fish well around the low. Bottom line, the fish need 2-3 feet to feel comfotable, but much more than that, they can struggle pinning bait. So our recommendation is to fish mid to high tide ad find a shoreline that you know and are comfortable with and make sure to work the stretch to its entirety. Do not stand in one place. We learned this advice from the late David Goodman years ago, always be moving and exploring.
The last comment is what to fish…this is always the question. With heavy amounts of mackerel around we are pushing anglers to higher profile lures such as the sebile, the waxwing, or a larger stickbait. Anything with a lip will dig too deep and not have enough action. Believe me, we love soft baits: sluggos and albie snax, but right now, higher profile baits seem to be outproducing the soft baits. ALSO, if you find some flat water, go to the surface, something that will push water. You will love the hits you get.
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!
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.
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.
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.