by Jerry Vovccsko
Check out the Associated Press story about a Connecticut angler who holds the current striper record at 81+ pound…too bad the story is rife with silly remarks by the reporter who obviously knew nothing about striped bass or fishing for that matter. Forty-four inch record for length? Stocking streams??C'mon.....
A few evenings back 29 year old Justin Sprague hopped on his bike and headed down for a ride along the Cape Cod Canal. He hadn't intended to do any fishing but seeing a bunch of fishermen hard at it along the Canal he decided to go home and grab his gear. When he got back he picked a spot known to Canal regulars as Murderer's Row. He'd been casting for about fifteen minutes with no luck and then spotted a tail breaking the surface. He thought it was a shark and flipped a cast in that direction and found himself hooked up, not with a shark, but with a real rarity around these parts: A white Marlin!
His first reaction when he figured out what he'd hooked into was "Holy S-word!"
After being hooked under its mouth, the fish began jumping out of the water "just like you see on TV," Sprague said. Two nearby fisherman came by to help and combining their efforts the men eventually pulled the fish up onto the rip rap. The fish was "a good 6 feet long" and weighed at least 60 pounds, Sprague said. The fishermen tried to revive the fish after catching it, but were unable to.
Anglers who land billfish — such as a white marlin — must report it within 24 hours and there's a minimum size restriction of 66 inches, according to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries division. Confusion over the legality of his catch was part of the reason why Sprague ended up giving it to the two men who helped him pull it ashore, he said.
"I was on my 10-speed. I didn't even have pliers," he said of how ill-equipped he was to deal with the fish, and said his catch wasn't so much the work of a skilled fisherman, but being at the right place at the right time.
"I never really have good luck fishing," he said.
Yeah, well, I wouldn't mind not-having-any luck like that myself.
In my last column I mentioned the shark turning up in the doorway of a Nantucket pub. Looks like a copycat "sharker" was on the loose in the New York subway last week. New York City's transit authority says a conductor found a small dead shark aboard a subway train in Queens on Wednesday. Apparently fearing that "Jaws" might be lurking nearby, the conductor asked passengers to leave the car and closed it off. The train continued to the end of the line, and there a supervisor placed the shark in a garbage bag and put it in the trash. Photos on a New York blog show the shark with a cigarette in its mouth and a can of Red Bull nearby.
Transit officials are aware of the photos but are making no effort to find the person who posted them, saying they have ‘‘better things to do.'
Yessir, never a dull moment in the Big Apple.
Locally, striper fishing has slowed a tad as water temperatures hover in the seventies and the low-hanging fruit has already been picked clean. Now it takes some savvy and experience to hook up with Morone saxatilis (In my mind they'll always be "Roccus") and that probably eliminates a large segment of visiting anglers. Nevertheless, there are bass around and they can be caught. A few important considerations when it comes to methods:
1) Some of these bass have traded in their usual haunts for deeper water. Swimming plugs that dig deep will bring results when the shallow running favorites go fishless.
2) Fish moving water! Rips are good lurking places and stripers will hang around waiting for the current to bring bat past them. Why exert themselves when the rip-buffet-line will bring food to them? Criss- cross working rips with casts be sure to get lures up into the place where the rip begins.
3) With warmer waters around it becomes even more important to get out there just before first light as it's the best time to tangle with stripers on the feed. Top water lures will do the trick although later in the day deep runners are far more effective. Besides early morning activity, next best is dusk into the night hours. Drifting chunk baits, live eels or herring in fishy-looking places is a good way to find where the bass are doing business.
4) Slow it down, folks. No point in making a good sized striper exert itself any more than need be to catch up with bait or lure. Make it easy for the fish to dine on your offering and there's a better chance of hooking up.
Bluefish are another matter altogether and they like the warm temperatures. Pods of blues continue to cruise Nantucket Sound and when you catch one you'll generally take more of that size as they tend to school up in roughly the same size class. Some false albacore are beginning to filter into the Sound and the Lackey's Bay mouth is one of the first locations where they show up. I've had pretty good luck tossing metal slabs – Kastmasters, Hopkins Lures, Deadly Dicks – until I locate a school and then working that spot. If they disappear, stay put, they'll circle around and return nearby…keep your head on a swivel until they show up once more and cast a little beyond the school and work back through it for best results.
One lucky gent landed a 900+ pound Bluefin east of Chatham…didn't think there were too many in that size class still left so it's good to hear there are still some around. The Japanese covet these fish for their rare-beefsteak-like flesh and it's tempting to target fish that can bring thousands at the dock from waiting fish buyers. But it also takes a long time to grow a Bluefin to that size and there may come a time where the huge "horse-mackerels" slide into the mists of extinction as some management people are concerned might happen.
We're not too far from the start of fall migration and fishing will definitely ramp up then before it's time to store the gear away. Hard to believe we're less than three weeks out from Labor Day weekend but there it is. I see Red Sox owner John Henry has bought the Boston Globe
and Amazon titan Jeff Bezos is acquiring the Washington Post. Wonder what it feels like to sit down and write a check for $70 million as John Henry will be doing? Me, I'm a little nervous writing a check for $7 if it's near the end of the month and my math is a little shaky when it comes to balancing the checkbook.
Okay, that's it for now. There's more fishing to do and time's running out. I'll have more in another week or so…tight lines.