by Jerry Vovcsko
According to a story in today's Boston Globe, almost 50 years and more than $25 million after it began the federal government is giving up on restocking the Connecticut River with Atlantic salmon. This year only 54 fish returned to the river from their ocean sojourn and fisheries officials feel the one to two million dollars spent annually on re-establishing the salmon could better be used to enhance other sea-going species such as shad or river herring.
Originally the Connecticut was seeded with salmon bred from the Penobscot River in Maine and by the early seventies the first salmon began returning from the sea. By 1981 there was an established run of 529 fish but it's been downhill since then and where prior to 1991 scientists calculated a return of ten salmon returning for every then thousand fish that swam out to sea, since 1991 the return is less than one per ten thousand.
Scientists say they remain uncertain about what is happening in the ocean but know it is affecting Atlantic salmon the world over. The possibilities include: rising water temperatures or acidification from climate change, -freshwater flowing into the sea from melting polar caps, or changes in food supply or predators. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials are also looking at coastal estuaries to see where fish are being lost and why. Here's hoping they get it figured out because it would be a shame to lose these magnificent wild fish if there's any chance of saving the species.
Water temperatures in Vineyard Sound continue to rise and stripers become more difficult to find, especially in the shallower areas such as around Popponesset or South Cape beaches. A better approach is to check out areas where tide and currents keep the water in motion – Nobska Point and the Elizabeth Island chain are a couple of good places. The Cape Cod Canal with its sluicing tidal shifts is another. The back side beaches between P'town and Chatham have been fairly productive recently with Race Point offering decent late evening opportunities for the surf casting crowd and Ballston as well as Head of the Meadow beaches in Truro doing decent striper business as well.
Problem is the Truro beaches have had their share of seals in residence and surfcasters know how frustrating it is to hook up with a big bass only to end up with half a fish that a seal munched on before it could be landed. Combine that with shifting winds beginning to blow the shoreline full of seaweed and assorted mung and frustration levels begin to rise along with air temperatures that have soared into the 90s lately.
More and more bonito have been filtering into Vineyard Sound the past week or so and they are showing up in such locations as Woods Hole, the Middleground and Lucas Shoal. The nice thing about fishing the Middleground is the presence of stripers, fluke and bluefish as well as recently arrived bonito; if one's not hitting, there's a good chance of picking up one of the other species and as often as not the same lure works on any or all…especially if the lure of choice is a jig, plastic bait or combo.
In Cape Cod Bay Billingsgate continues to produce keeper size stripers and the edge of the Brewster Flats is worth a look especially if the tide begins ebbing around dusk carrying baitfish off the flats to where the bass like to lurk looking for that free meal delivered to them like at some marine buffet line. O the whole, though, fishing is slower than it has been earlier and the next question to be pondered is: Will the fall migration begin at the usual time or will the stripers stick around longer stretching the season out beyond what we're used to? Sure hope it's the latter, but we got going early this year so no complaints are in order just yet. Me? I'm heading back out again early next week but the weather folk say there may be thunder storms passing though toward the weekend so I'll plan to stick closer to shore than usual and I'll definitely keep an eye on any clouds building up during the day. Tight lines.