by Jerry Vovcsko
Finally, we can allow that winter is in the rearview mirror and the 2015 striped bass season is under way in Cape Cod waters. The fishy migrants are showing up in numbers in such places as the herring run at the Cape Cod Canal, along the south facing beaches in Nantucket Sound and even in select places in Cape Cod Bay. Yep, the stripers are among us and season's under way.
Most of the bass getting caught at the herring run have been in schoolie size but there have been some keepers mixed in. The water temperatures in both Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay finally crept up into the low to mid-fifties and that means it won't be long before we'll be tying into newly arriving bluefish. This is maybe the best time of the year so far as fishing is concerned.
Problem is anglers have been getting stiff competition from the ever-increasing seal population that's taken up permanent residence in Cape waters.
In the Chatham area seals are ubiquitous to the point that they've established the waters around Chatham as a fast-food stop for great white sharks. These days Nantucket Sound is home to a fleet of commercial squid boats and the tasty calamari critters can be found swarming around docks and piers. The pilings under the docks in Woods Hole are squid magnets and night fishing there is fine sport for folks casting squid "plugs" into the shadowy places under the lights.
South Cape Beach, Popponesset an Succonesset beaches feature squadrons of surf casters firing metal lures into the Sound hoping for a keeper bass to grab their lure before a schoolie picks it up. This accumulation of surf anglers is a regular feature of early spring striper season and the warm shallow areas produce good results for those with the patience to keep firing Kastmasters, Hopkins and Deadly Dick metals seaward.
Right now stripers are establishing residency all along the Elizabeth Islands.
These early visitors will vigorously smack swimming plugs as well as jig and plastic combos with enthusiasm and I have always had good success over the years with an old-school five and a quarter inch black-back sinking Rebel. The trick is to get close enough in to reach the edge of the shoreline with a cast. Bouncing the plug on the rocks and dragging it into the water is a particularly effective technique along the islands odd as that might seem. Try it, it works.
And here's an announcement from the folks at Division of Marine Fisheries regarding new haddock regulations. For some reason when I first read through the announcement I was reminded of my first look at a calculus textbook back in high school. Say what?
On Friday, May 1, new federal recreational rules for Gulf of Maine (GOM) haddock took effect which differ from Massachusetts recreational rules for GOM haddock.
The Division of Marine Fisheries is undertaking rule-making to mirror the federal possession and size limits, but in the meantime there will be a discrepancy. This notice serves to clarify how the combination of state and federal recreational rules will be enforced in Massachusetts.
Gulf of Maine Haddock Recreational Rules Federal Rules
Effective May 1, 2015 Massachusetts Rules
Until Further Notice
3 fish (per person per day)
17" minimum size
Open May 1–Aug. 31, Nov. 1–Feb. 28/29
21" minimum size
(Outside the GOM, state and haddock rules are the same: 18", unlimited possession, open year-round.)
How these rules apply depends on both the type of permit held and area of fishing:
A private recreational angler fishing in state waters only and landing in Massachusetts is bound by the state rules.
A private recreational angler fishing entirely or in part in federal waters and landing in Massachusetts is bound by a combination of the most restrictive rules: 3 fish and 21" minimum size. The angler cannot catch or possess GOM haddock from federal waters during March, April, September, and October.
A state-permitted for-hire vessel fishing only in state waters and landing in Massachusetts is bound by the state rules.
A dual-permitted (state and federal) for-hire vessel fishing in state or federal waters and landing in Massachusetts is bound by a combination of the most restrictive rules: 3 fish and 21" minimum size. The vessel cannot catch or possess GOM haddock from state or federal waters during March, April, September, and October.
The Division is currently accepting public comment and will be holding a public hearing on Thursday, May 28 on changing the state GOM haddock recreational rules. For more information on how to submit comment or the timing of the public hearing, refer to our previous Advisory.
And here's wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. Enjoy your Day and here's hoping you have yourselves a well-earned rest!